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Buratino in the Emerald City

Vladimirsky, Leonid
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Vladimirski, Leonid
Ausprey Enterprises

The 1959 edition of THE WIZARD OF THE EMERALD CITY and Volkov’s other five Magic Land books were all originally illustrated by Leonid Vladimirsky. Vladimirsky was more than just an illustrator. He suggested, for instance, that there should be seven underground kings (for the seven colors in the rainbow) instead of the twelve that Volkov had originally planned. He wrote the afterword to THE SECRET OF THE DESERTED CASTLE. As with John R. Neill it seemed fitting that he should write a book himself. Early in his career, Vladimirsky had illustrated Alexei Tolstoy’s [THE GOLDEN KEY]. This was an adaptation of Collodi’s PINOCCHIO in which the characters’ names were changed (Pinocchio became Buratino, Geppetto became Papa Carlo etc.), and the story greatly altered. In 1996 Ausprey Enterprises published a beautiful book, written and illustrated by Vladimirsky: [BURATINO IN THE EMERALD CITY], in which he combines characters from Tolstoy and Volkov (or, indirectly, Collodi and Baum). The story begins in Tarabarsk where Papa Carlo’s new Puppet Theater is preparing to open a new production, much to the anguish of Carabas Barabas, proprietor of the old puppet theater ruined by the superior theater of Papa Carlo. In consultation with Basilio the Cat, Alisa the Fox and Duremar the leech-seller, Carabas plots to ruin the ceremony by sending five pastries laced with sleeping powder to Papa Carlo’s, where they will put Carlo, Buratino, Malvina (a puppet Blue Fairy), Pierrot (another puppet) and Artemon (a dog) to sleep. Buratino is alone when the pastries arrive; he eats one and then persuades himself to eat the other four. When Papa Carlo and the others arrive home, they find Buratino in a death-like sleep. That day, a visitor arrives in Tarabarsk in a large green balloon. He says that he comes from America and boasts of the magical things he can do and the cures he has for any disease. Papa Carlo brings the lifeless Buratino to him, and after some hesitation -- the patient is a wooden puppet -- the man tells Carlo that there is one chance to revive the boy, but he must take him with him. So Papa Carlo (carrying Buratino), Malvina, Pierrot, and Artemon get into the basket of the balloon and fly off. While they are in the air, the balloonist magician quack-doctor identifies himself as Goodwin. Meanwhile, in Magic Land, Urfin Jus goes to gather mushrooms, accompanied by Guamoko, Topotun, and Eot Ling. They find the house of the Ogre that had tried to eat Ellie and go inside. The Ogre turns out to be alive, and he thinks that Urfin would make a nice dinner. The joiner saves himself by telling the Ogre that the people of the Emerald City have sent him to ask the Ogre to be their king. The Ogre is reluctant to take the job because he would have to think, but Urfin tells him that he will become the Ogre’s Prime Minister and do all the thinking for him. Goodwin tells Papa Carlo the story of how he had been ruler of the Emerald City but had abdicated and made Strasheela his successor. He also tells of Urfin Jus’s life-giving powder which could bring Buratino back to life. His plan is to fly with Carlo and company to Magic Land, and revive the puppet with the powder. The plan works up to the point when they are approaching the Emerald City, when the balloon is blown off course. Goodwin brings the craft near enough to the ground for Carlo and his companions to jump out, while Goodwin sails away in the lightened balloon. Papa Carlo, carrying Buratino in a sack on his back, heads for the Emerald City with his friends. Urfin Jus and the Ogre have already come to the Emerald City. Faramant, the guardian of the gates, is tricked by Urfin, who gives his companion the name "Ogier" and he is captured and thrown in the dungeon, as is Din Gior. When Urfin and "Ogier" enter the throne room, they find it easy to seize Strasheela. Urfin wipes off his painted mouth (so he cannot scream) and throws him in a chest. Ogier crowns himself with a gold chamber pot. A pudgy little man (it is the notorious traitor Ruf Bilan) looks into the throne room; and Ogier wants to eat him, but Urfin tells him this man would be more useful alive. The palace cooks prepare their new king a roasted sheep for a meal, and he soon falls asleep. Urfin, realizing that he might need more of an army, gets the key to his workshop from Ruf Bilan. Ruf finds three of the Deadwood Oaks with smiling faces. Urfin is able to replace two of the heads with wicked ones. There is no new head for the third one, who is a gardener-poet. Urfin sends him to guard the entry gate. The first visitor to King Ogier the next morning is Papa Carlo, accompanied by Malvina and Pierrot; they do not know that the person on the throne is not Strasheela, and Carlo tells him that Goodwin had brought them. Urfin, realizing that Carlo may be dangerous, has him taken to the dungeon. Meanwhile Ogier has seen Malvina and decides she should be his queen. Although Malvina would scarcely come to Ogier’s knee, he insists that Urfin feed her "five kilos of meat a day" so she will become big "Like me! By Sunday! If not I eat you up." Urfin realizes that he has underestimated Ogier’s stupidity, stubbornness and bloodthirstiness. In the dungeon, Papa Carlo, still carrying Buratino, meets Faramant and Din Gior. From what he tells them, they realize that the Ogre has become king. Faramant knows of a secret passage Goodwin had built from the dungeon to the outside, Din Gior knows the location of Urfin Jus’s secret workshop, and Carlo has Buratino’s golden key, which can open any lock. Thus they are able to escape and get in the secret workshop. Artemon the dog, who was not permitted to enter the throne room, joins them and finds a flask containing a few grains of the magic powder. Carlo sprinkles these grains on Buratino and the latter revives. Buratino tricks the gate-guarding Deadwood Oak (his name is Rub -- Uncle Rub to Buratino) into letting Carlo, Din Gior, Faramant and Artemon get out of the Emerald City by distracting him with a discussion of poetry. The Crow Kaggi-Karr, who has assumed the reins of government during Strasheela’s disappearance, joins the party and takes command. Urfin Jus is desperate because of Ogier’s insistence that he make Malvina big in three days, and then he remembers Arachna the Giantess. She might have had an elixir that made her so big. If he could get some, he could force or trick Malvina into drinking it. He dispatches Eot Ling, riding on Topotun, to the Gnomes in Arachna’s cave with a sealed letter, supposedly sent by Strasheela, requesting some of that elixir. Kaggi-Karr hears his plans and contrives a way to defeat them. On Eot Ling’s return trip, Buratino, riding Artemon, confronts him, claiming to be on a secret mission. When he is challenged to prove that his mission is more secret, he says (in a speech prepared by Faramant), "I’m to meet Eot Ling the Clown and tell him that under no circumstances is he to drink from the little bottle of magic elixir. If he does, he’ll immediately grow to five times his size and become the strongest person in the world." Of course Eot Ling drinks the entire bottle and soon becomes so heavy that Topotun can no longer carry him. He decides that he can now become king himself. Urfin Jus, watching the enlarged Eot Ling’s approach, realizes that he has drunk the elixir. Eot Ling breaks into the throne room to challenge the Ogre, but the latter takes the gold chamber-pot he was using for a crown and smashes it on the wooden clown’s head, splitting it and ending Eot Ling’s career. Urfin congratulates Ogier on his victory, but secretly wishes that the battle had gone the other way. He has only two days until the wedding, and the bride is no larger than before. Kaggi-Karr reports to her troops that their plan to get rid of the Ogre had failed. Papa Carlo insists that Malvina and Pierrot be rescued, and Buratino volunteers for the job. He climbs down the chimney of the room in which they are locked and tries to persuade them to come back up the chimney with him. While they are arguing whether or not to do this, Urfin Jus comes into the room and seizes Buratino by the nose. He offers Buratino a deal: in order to prevent Ogier from forcing Malvina into marriage, "You’ve got to bring another bride to the palace -- a giantess named Arachna. Then the king will marry her, and I promise you I’ll let Malvina and Pierrot go free." Buratino agrees. When Kaggi-Karr learns of this agreement, she arranges for Carfax to carry Buratino to the cavern into which Arachna had fallen. He calls down the echoing cavern to Arachna. At first she is unresponsive, but when he tells her she could be married to the king and be a queen, she pulls herself out of the ravine and starts running to the Emerald City. Carfax returns Buratino to his friends. The next chapter becomes almost farce. Urfin Jus tells the Ogre that the bride is ready. Not even waiting for the citizens to attend the ceremony, Ogier demands the marriage take place immediately. A veiled bride is brought in and Urfin officiates at the wedding. After he has pronounced them man and wife, the bride embraces her new husband and Ogier discovers that he has been tricked. "Pushing the Sorceress away, the Ogre, with enormous bounds, headed straight for the wide-open window and leaped out through it." Arachna calling, "Ogier! Darling! Where are you going?" leaps out the window after him. Ruf Bilan, always the opportunist, names Urfin the new king. Ogier and his bride are only briefly seen after this in an ongoing chase. It becomes clear to Buratino and his friends that Urfin Jus, now that he is King, has no intention of keeping his promise to release Malvina and Pierrot. Kaggi-Karr finds another means to undermine the new monarch. She sends Buratino with a message for Ruf Bilan, warning him that "the Iron Woodman and the Courageous Lion are coming to our aid. We will be victorious. You must release his Highness Strasheela and the puppets immediately!" Ruf, knowing that Urfin has only two Deadwood Oaks and a stuffed bear on his side, changes sides, puts Malvina and Pierrot outside where Buratino is waiting, takes Strasheela out of the trunk and brings him to Buratino. The puppets escape, bringing Uncle Rub along with them; he is delighted to join up with a fellow poet and the beautiful Malvina. Strasheela is soon put back in order -- he is restuffed with straw, and his mouth is repainted. The next morning, when Urfin awakes, he finds Ruf Balin no longer there and Strasheela gone from the trunk. Against Guamoko’s recommendations, he prepares for battle using his two Deadwood Oaks. Seeing his opposition down the road consisting of some old men (Din Gior, Faramant and Papa Carlo), a few puppets and an old crow, Urfin feels confident of victory. He sends his wooden army down the road after them, but the two Deadwood Oaks disappear into a covered pit. He tries to flee on Topotun, but he is held back by Artemon; then he is picked up by Carfax, who has an ancient grudge against Urfin [from THE FIERY GOD OF THE MARRANS], and is seen no more. When the Courageous Lion and the Iron Woodman arrive, they find that the enemy is gone, and Strasheela gives a celebration ball, to which he invites Villina, Stella and other important persons. When Papa Carlo tells Stella that he and his puppets have no way of getting home, she produces a pair of silver slippers that Malvina can wear, and, holding on to her friends, she can wish them all home. After sad farewells, she does. Back in Tarabarsk, Papa Carlo finds that his house is being occupied by Alisa the Fox and Basilio the Cat. Artemon gathers the dogs of the city to run them out, and then the dogs go after Carabas Barabas. Terrified, he flees to the police station for protection, and only by declaring that he is a bona fide criminal is he allowed to be put in a jail cell. The following Sunday, Papa Carlo’s Puppet Theater reopens to great applause. (above information courtesy of Stephen J. Teller)

©2002-2022 Blair Frodelius • Blair & Co.