The eponymous hero of Lucky Bucky in Oz, John R. Neill’s third and last completed Oz book, hearkened back to the brave, resourceful boys favored by Ruth Plumly Thompson. And he certainly seemed to have an astonishing amount of luck—if not always good. We barely get to see him in his native New York City when he is literally blown into his adventures.
Enjoying a cruise near the Statue of Liberty in his uncle’s tugboat, Bucky Jones—a.k.a. Lucky Bucky—suddenly found himself propelled into the sky by an explosion. Amazingly managing to keep his wits about him, he encountered “a perspiring cloud-pusher and a barrel-bird half full of star dust.” The latter warned him to avoid a volcano rising out of the pink-watered ocean above which the boy was flying.
He had no way of doing this, however, and fell plunk into a river of molten…. well, actually quite pleasantly warm… dough. This was the Doughmain, in fact, of a clan of small but fearless Bakers who carried out their baking in the volcano and let no one interfere with their work, least of all an upstart boy. But before Bucky got into hot water as well as hot dough, a band of pirates, leaping from a huge wooden whale, attacked the bakers.
The invasion was quickly put down, and the whale swam away, abandoning the pirates. Bucky took the Bakers’ side in the conflict, but the ungrateful chefs tossed him out to sea, where he met the whale again. Once ascertaining that Bucky was no pirate, nor had any of his family ever been, the whale agreed to let Bucky, who offered to be the whale’s pilot, stay aboard him in the pirates’ former quarters. He informed Bucky that they were in the Nonentic Ocean, near the famous Land of Oz.
The whale’s name was Davy Jones, and once learning Bucky’s name, declared that they must be cousins. They soon approached land, and Davy swam skillfully upon an Up-hill-down-hill River, visiting on the way a community of strange wooden merfolk called the Dollfins. Davy had rescued these somewhat unpleasant people years before and they had evidently been expecting a playmate from him. They were furious upon learning that Bucky was not it.
As they continued their journey towards Oz, Bucky found a pirate’s coat which had stitched inside it a map of Oz itself. Their journey carried them up a waterfall and onto a mountain of snow and ice, which they slid down towards a river which flowed through a dark forest and into a desolate country. Just as they had ascertained they were near the Gnome Kingdom in Ev, and not far from the Deadly Desert, they found themselves stuck tight in the snow…