As stated earlier, for The Hungry Tiger of Oz, Thompson covered much the same ground as she had in The Cowardly Lion of Oz, with a desert potentate seeking to make one of the two most important cats in Oz his own property. Happily, her inventiveness keeps it from becoming too similar, as she mixes in one of her favorite subplots, a search for a missing scion of royalty.
In the desert nation of Rash in Ev, ruled the Pasha Irashi. Grumpy and discontented, Irashi had incarcerated half the population for nit-picky reasons, leaving his prison overcrowded. While his reasonable Grand Vizier Fizzenpop advised letting them go, it was to the suggestion of his cruel Chief Scribe that the Pasha listened.
The Scribe, Ippity by name, recalling the actions of rulers in ancient times, said that thing to do was to have a wild beast eat the prisoners, and he knew the very one: the Hungry Tiger of Oz. At once Irashi dispatched Ippity on a “hurry-cane” to speed across the Deadly Desert, sneak into the Emerald City and secure the Tiger’s cooperation.
At the Royal Palace of Oz, Betsy Bobbin’s birthday party had just ended, and all were stuffed full of food and cake. Sadly, of course, this was not enough for the Hungry Tiger, who craved living food, but whose conscience would never let him eat it. He crept away to be alone, but shortly found a fat Rasher inviting him to eat as many of the Pasha’s prisoners as he wanted.
So hungry was he that he agreed to Ippity’s offer, but had grave misgivings…
Which were realized when he got to Rash and found himself as much a prisoner as those he’d been commissioned to eat. His first “victim” was a singer, and such a sad and obviously innocent wreck that the Tiger hid him and let Irashi think he’d been devoured.
Next morning, Betsy was awaked by the sound of a vegetable merchant hawking his wares. Scampering out of the palace, she met Carter Green, a true Vegetable Man who embodied the axiom “You are what you eat.” Apart from his eyes, which showed he had once been an ordinary man, he was all made of vegetables.
For a basket of strawberries, Betsy traded an emerald ring, and Carter showed her a ruby he owned, a square one with the letter “R” inscribed on it.
Without warning, Betsy and Carter and his vegetable cart were whisked away by a Winding Road, which deposited them on a dune near the Deadly Desert. Carter would take root if he stood too long, but Betsy found a pair of “Quick Sandals,” which unfortunately carried them both at great velocity across the Desert and into—where else?—Rash, where the Pasha had them flung, cart and all (minus the sandals, which had run away), into prison.
The cart fell on an angry, growling beast…