Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ding, Ding, Ding went the Trolley

Of course we know Ruth Plumly Thompson best for her twenty-one Oz books. But few know her first novel, The Wish Express, which was published in book form for the first time in 2007.

The Wish Express was originally serialized in the Philadelphia Public Ledger from July 9th through September 24th, 1916, in Thompson's Sunday children's page. She later edited down the material for inclusion in The Wonder Book (1929), an anthology of her non-Oz writings published by Oz book publisher Reilly and Lee.

In the novel, Thompson exhibits all of the qualities she later displayed when she took over writing the Oz books. It may even have been this story that got her the job writing the Oz books after Baum's death. The Wish Express features a boy named Berens and his dog, Rags. They hop on a magical trolley and depart for a tale of self-discovery, talking animals, Thompsonesque towns, and of course, a happy ending.

The book features the original illustrations by Hammon from the newspaper serialization. But I wanted to give the book some extra flourish. And the magic trolley in the book provided the inspiration. 

In the running title of each page I placed a little drawing of a trolley. And on each page of the book it's in a slightly different position. So as you read the story, the trolley progresses across the top of the left hand page, and by story's end, the trolley is on the far edge of the right-hand page. But of course you can also flip through the pages quickly and make the trolley zoom across the top of the pages and disappear in a little flip-book movie. On the last pages of the story, and the two-page biography of Thompson, the trolley vanishes in a puff of magical smoke.

So, if you've never read The Wish Express, why not give it a chance? And for all of you Shanower-collecting completists, the little trolley was drawn by Eric Shanower.

All Aboard!

1 comment:

Nathan said...

I found the section in Someplace Else kind of disturbing, especially for Thompson.