Nathan (vovat) wrote,
Nathan
vovat

Life in the Oogaboonies

First of all, happy birthday to goldenmoonbear!



For my Oz post today, I'm going to take a look at Oogaboo, a small valley nestled in the mountains in the northwestern (not southwestern, as I originally wrote) corner of Oz. While Oogaboo is officially a kingdom, it's a tiny one. At the beginning of Tik-Tok of Oz, the population is given as eighteen men, twenty-seven women, and forty-four children. All of the men are named Jo, with their surnames being the crop in which they specialize. While a few of them grow normal items like apples and plums, others farm anything from ice cream cones to sandwiches to banjos. The kingdom is ruled by the Soforth family, whom I've guessed might have been named because they were the ones who handled all of the crops not covered by the others. After King Jol Jemkiph Soforth left Oogaboo, later followed by his wife, their daughter Ann became Queen. Part of the plot of Tik-Tok involves how Ann, being dissatisfied with her own kingdom, set out to conquer the world with an army comprised of the few men in Oogaboo (aside from Jo Candy, who absolutely refused to enlist). Not surprisingly, she didn't succeed, but she and her army DID play a role in conquering Ruggedo, and were allowed to take some of the wealth of the Nome Kingdom home with them. I'm not entirely sure what good the jewels would have done in what basically seems to be a closed, self-sufficient economy, but I suppose we can't underestimate the appeal of shiny objects. Also, Jo Files, the only Oogabooite who decided to become a private soldier instead of an officer, met his wife Ozga, the former Rose Princess, while on the Queen's foolish mission.



Despite the lack of size and prestige for Oogaboo, its location in the very corner of the land makes it a convenient landmark, and I can recall references in Tin Woodman, Glinda, and Gnome King to locations being identified relative to the small valley kingdom. It even appears on the maps in Gregory Maguire's Wicked series, although he changed the spelling to "Ugabu." There are also several apocryphal books and stories that feature Oogaboo prominently. In "Nero Zeero, Snoz of Oz," Queen Ann marries the title character, the king of the nearby valley of Snozland, where the people believe that intelligence is relative to nose size. Karyl Carlson and Eric Gjovaag's Queen Ann has the Queen search for her parents, and gives some interesting additional details about the kingdom, as well as bringing in some of the children as significant characters. Kids in Oogaboo are encouraged to cultivate their own new crops, after which they take the names of these crops, like their parents did before. The name "Jol Jemkiph Soforth" is also explained, with "Jol" being identified as a more archaic form of the standard Oogabooish name "Jo," and a jemkiph being a date book. Jol's wife and Ann's mother is named Dede, and the search party eventually locates both parents. In David Hulan's Glass Cat, Oogaboo is invaded by Bad Lads with guns, and it takes the efforts of several Ozian celebrities to drive them off. Finally, Melody Grandy and Chris Dulabone's Thorns and Private Files has Jo and Ozga Files trying to unravel the mystery of the nearby Kingdom of Cyrune, which is finally resolved in Zim Greenleaf.



Not much detail is given about the history of Oogaboo prior to fairly recent years, but its organization suggests that it might have been started as a commune of sorts, which developed into a kingdom over the years. While small and not too prosperous, it appears to be largely self-sustaining, and the people are quite content when not being roped into Ann's crazy schemes. Queen Ann has the title character making Oogaboo somewhat less insular by setting up trade with other nearby kingdoms.
Tags: books, characters, oz
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