I’ve written about Sky Island and its government before, but not so much specifically about the Boolooroo, the main villain in L. Frank Baum’s Sky Island. “Boolooroo” is actually the title for the King of the Blue Country, but this particular character is never called by any other name, even though he’s no longer Boolooroo by the end of the story.
He’s a thoroughly nasty sort who keeps slaves, tries to rule past his term limit, is prone to frequent outbursts, and invented a form of punishment called patching. This involves cutting two people in half (no one in the Blue Country can die until they’ve lived 600 years, so this doesn’t kill them), and then sticking each half of one person to half of the other person.
I guess all of the people who get patched have fairly similar body sizes, or I don’t know that this could work. Regardless, a patched person is essentially of two minds about everything.
The Boolooroo has six daughters, named Cerulia, Turquoise, Sapphire, Azure, Cobalt, and Indigo. They’re known collectively as the Six Snubnosed Princesses, and their father insists that a snub nose is a mark of beauty. I guess every culture has its own standards. The princesses are all pretty much alike in personality, being perhaps even more stuck-up and violent than their dear old dad. John R. Neill also draws them all looking alike, although Baum specifies that Indigo is somewhat darker in complexion than the others, as befits her name. Each princess has a pet, with Cerulia’s being a peacock that meows like a cat, Turquoise’s a rabbit that roars like a lion, Sapphire’s a parrot that barks like a dog and speaks fluent English besides, Azure’s a cat that sings like a bird, Cobalt’s a lamb that chatters like a monkey, and Indigo’s a dog that crows like a rooster. All of the princesses are abusive to their pets, so when Trot temporarily serves as the girls’ maid and actually treats them nicely, they take an immediate liking to her. In fact, Sapphire’s parrot accompanies Trot, Cap’n Bill, and Button-Bright in their flight from the Blue Country. When they return to the Earth, the parrot decides to remain with Rosalie, the newly appointed Queen of the Pink Country.
The Boolooroo’s wife and princesses’ mother is still around, but she’s one card short of a full deck. And I mean that literally, because she spends all her time playing solitaire with a deck that’s missing one card. Hence, she’s very uninvolved in the story, and likely in the lives of her family members as well.
When the Boolooroo is overthrown, he and his family are turned out of the palace and sent to live in a cabin at the edge of the Blue City. The former ruler claims that he’ll reform, but he doesn’t strike me as the trustworthy sort, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to find him causing trouble again later on. This is just what happens in Camilla Townsend’s “The Blue Raindrops of Oz,” a short story that appears in the 1984 Oziana. After discovering some magic in his cabin’s attic, he sets out to conquer Sky Island. While the story has him defeated and turned into a statue, it also suggests that he will be changed back. Having him try something else, and perhaps even taking him off Sky Island at least temporarily, could make for some fun plot ideas. I have a story in mind that would probably feature at least a cameo by the former Boolooroo, but I have so much else to write before even thinking of getting started on that one.
Incidentally, I discovered through a Google search that “Boolooroo” is a place in New South Wales, Australia. You know, of all Baumian names, that’s about the last one I would have expected to refer to something in the real world. Next you’ll be telling me there’s an African village called “Yookoohoo.”