Tag Archive | James Thurber

Who Knew How Important a Vowel Could Be?

Let’s continue to explore fantasy and I certainly hope you’re doing just that—whether it’s with The Adventure of Pinocchio or The Magic Fishbone, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,
The Hobbit, Watership Down
(one of my favorites) or (how I love) the late Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men, part of his Discworld series.

Enter James Thurber. His zany world includes catering to Princess Lenore and making a hero out of Walter Mitty. Today, let’s talk about the very funny and very poignant story, The Wonderful O. Let me whet your appetite.

 The Wonderful O
Source: openlibrary.org

Littlejack, a pirate, met Black in a tavern near the sea. Littlejack’s goal: to find an island rich with jewels, sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. He teams up with Black to hunt for treasure. Their ship was the Aeiu. The island they sailed to was Ooroo. It was Black who hated O—he lost his mother at sea (she was stuck in a porthole, they couldn’t pull her in, so they had to push her out.)

They arrive at Ooroo and tell the people that they have come for their jewels. The gentle islanders tell them they have no jewels. Black grinned and showed his lower teeth. “Take the town apart,” he cried and the crew did. And so Black overtook the gentle island, and unable to find the treasure, he vowed then and there to rid everything with an “O.” Cnfusin reigned.

He even took the “O”s out of Ooroo and called the island “R.” But, the islanders still had VALOR. That night, the townspeople met in the woods to plan a solution. Their leader was Andreas, a poet. Meanwhile, Black and Littlejack continued their silly escapades to rid the island of O.

Language diminished. The secret meetings continued and Hyde, a sinister lawyer, spied on them. Black ordered more destruction and “Babies often made as much sense as their fathers.” (Told you it was funny.)

Andrea, a beautiful maiden, searched her father’s library for a secret and a spell to confound the pirates. She found an ancient book of magic. At the meeting, Andrea spoke up. “Be not afraid to speak with O’s. We cannot live or speak without HOPE. Hope contains the longest O of all. We mustn’t lose it.” Andrea gave Andreas the book she found in her father’s library, The Enchanted Castle. With it, they formed a plan. Andrea spoke at their next meeting. “There are four words with O. You mustn’t lose them. Find out what they are and use them.”

And the townspeople did. “HOPE is one,” said Andreas. “And LOVE,” said Andrea. “And VALOR, I should think,” the old man said. And then they tried to find the fourth.

You will delighted to discover the meaning behind The Wonderful O.

Next time, we talk about fiction. May your summer reading be meaningful and memorable.