October 20th, 2009

Woozy

Spot Change We Can Believe In

When dealing with the big cats of Oz, I've already written posts about the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, and Gugu the Leopard. So who's left? Well, in Rachel Cosgrove's The Hidden Valley of Oz, we're introduced to a leopard who can change his spots. This is, of course, a joke on an old expression that can actually be found in the Bible. In Jeremiah 13:3, we read, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" The leopard is not accompanied by a skin-changing Ethiopian, but he IS able to change his spots into many different patterns, often reflecting his mood or what he's talking about at the time. He makes his first appearance when Jam is on his way back to the Hidden Valley with the Ozian celebrities, and the group is journeying through a forest in the Winkie Country. The Leopard reveals that he's an outcast, but the celebrities befriend him, and Jam gives him the nickname "Spots." (Despite this, however, Jack Snow simply lists him under "Leopard" in Who's Who in Oz.) Not surprisingly, he ends up living in the Emerald City. I'm not sure he appears in Rachel's other full-length Oz novel, Wicked Witch (if he does, it's just a bit part), but he does play a major role in her short story "Spots in Oz." This tale involves a Winkie boy mixing up a magic spot remover that works too well, and leaves Spots temporarily blank.

Here's a picture of Spots, drawn by Shawn Maldonado.