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Littlejack has a map that indicates the existence of a treasure on a far island. Black has a ship to get there. So they team up and sail off on Black's vessel, the Aeiu-a name based on all the vowels except for O. O he hates since his mother got wedged in a porthole. Black and Littlejack arrive at the port of the island and demand the treasure. No one knows anything about it, so they have their henchmen ransack the place-to no avail. But Black has a better idea: he will take over the island and he will purge it of O. The vicissitudes visited on the islanders by Black and Littlejack, the harsh limits of a life sans O, and how finally with a little luck the islanders shake off their tyrannical interlopers and discover the true treasure for themselves all create a timelessly zany fairy tale about two louts who try to lock up the language-and lose.
James Thurber (1894-1961) was one of the outstanding American humorists and cartoonists of the twentieth century. Thurber wrote nearly forty books, including collections of essays, short stories, fables, and children's stories. Marc Simont has illustrated nearly a hundred books. He won a Caldecott Honor in 1950 for illustrating Ruth Krauss's The Happy Day, and in 1957 he was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his pictures in A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry.