In her preface to Kabumpo in Oz, Ruth Plumly Thompson announces it as the fifteenth Oz book, which is very odd, since it is actually the sixteenth to be published. Another Oz mystery!
In the Kingdom of Pumperdink in the Gilliken Country of Oz, a lavish party was being thrown by King Pompus and Queen Pozy Pink for their beloved son Prince Pompadore’s latest eighteenth birthday (as an immortal Ozite, he could have as many of these as he wished). In attendance was Kabumpo, the Elegant Elephant, a mischievous but very dignified and well-loved adopted member of the royal family.
During the celebration, the kitchen staff delivered a cake which had mysteriously vanished and reappeared in their sight moments before. When the candles were blown out– a singularly difficult task which only Kabumpo managed in the end– the cake exploded!
Among the icing and crumbs flung about the room were also disclosed a magic mirror, a gold door knob bearing the initials “P.A.,” and most ominous of all, a scroll containing the warning:
“Know ye that unless ye Prince of ye ancient and honorable Kingdom of Pumperdink wed ye Proper Fairy Princess in ye proper span of time ye Kingdom of Pumperdink shall disappear forever and even longer from ye Gilliken country of Oz. J.G.”
The nearest princess available, Faleero by name, was an ancient and horrid-looking thing, so Kabumpo planned to escape with Prince Pompadore and seek the hand of none other than Princess Ozma.
That night, he had his valet Spezzle dress him in a purple robe in the pocket of which he put gifts for Ozma as well as the door knob and the mirror. Then, taking the sleeping Prince gently in his trunk, he slipped out and made for the Emerald City.
Once awake, Pompadore was delighted to be out on an adventure. Not long out from Pumperdink, he and Kabumpo encountered a true “questing beast,” a cat-like critter called a Cottabus, who asked fifty questions a day. Though Pompadore enjoyed answering its questions, the beast got on the Elephant’s nerves, so the pair moved on.
The Cottabus followed them for miles until they shook it off, then they found themselves in a strange place among stranger people.
In the city of Rith Metic, they met the Figure Heads, basically living numbers, ruled by– what else?– an actual Ruler. This personage assigned the pencil-like nobleman Count It Up to put the visitors through a series of math problems before they could leave the city.
It went well for a while, but fractions loomed ahead and Pompadore began to despair when who but the Cottabus, looking through a fence, provided them with a way out. In rhyme it advised Pompadore to turn somersaults, which for some reason panicked the Figure Heads and made them scatter.
Once away, Pompadore and Kabumpo stopped to relax, but suddenly the Prince vanished! The Elephant found a marble slab bearing the words:
Please Knock Before You Fall In.