Sky Island

BY L. FRANK BAUM, 1912

List of chapters
1. A MYSTERIOUS ARRIVAL
2. THE MAGIC UMBRELLA
3. A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE
4. THE ISLAND IN THE SKY
5. THE BOOLOOROO OF THE BLUES
6. THE SIX SNUBNOSED PRINCESSES
7. GHIP-GHISIZZLE PROVES FRIENDLY
8. THE BLUE CITY
9. THE TRIBULATION OF TROT
10. THE KING'S TREASURE CHAMBER
11. BUTTON-BRIGHT ENCOUNTERS THE BLUE WOLF
12. THROUGH THE FOG BANK
13. THE PINK COUNTRY
14. TOURMALINE THE POVERTY QUEEN
15. THE SUNRISE TRIBE AND THE SUNSET TRIBE
16. ROSALIE THE WITCH
17. THE ARRIVAL OF POLYCHROME
18. MAYRE, QUEEN OF THE PINK COUNTRY
19. THE WAR OF THE PINKS AND BLUES
20. GHIP-GHISIZZLE HAS A BAD TIME
21. THE CAPTURE OF CAP'N BILL
22. TROT'S INVISIBLE ADVENTURE
23. THE GIRL AND THE BOOLOOROO
24. THE AMAZING CONQUEST OF THE BLUES
25. THE RULER OF SKY ISLAND
26. TROT CELEBRATES THE VICTORY
27. THE FATE OF THE MAGIC UMBRELLA
28. THE ELEPHANT'S HEAD COMES TO LIFE
29. TROT REGULATES THE PINKIES
30. THE JOURNEY HOME




This sequel to The Sea Fairies continues the adventures of Trot and Cap'n Bill. Published in 1912, fans still clamored for more Oz books, and Baum recontinued them the following year with The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

Trot and Cap'n Bill explored the realms at the bottom of the sea in their first book. This one takes them high in the air to a world in the clouds. Accompanying them on their adventure is Button-Bright, familiar to Oz readers as the ever getting lost boy in The Road to Oz. Button-Bright has found an umbrella in his attic that can take him anywhere he tells it; the crew run into problems when directions become too specific. Polychrome the Rainbow's Daughter also makes a guest appearance. A very annoying rhyming parrot is introduced, as well as Giant Frogs and a mysterious elephant. Button-Bright's magic Umbrella is a bit like Mary Poppins' umbrella. A creative use of the nature of clouds, particularly their absorption of the sun's setting and rising colours, is displayed.

Baum brings Trot and Cap'n Bill to Oz in the ninth Oz book, The Scarecrow of Oz.

A sky island is a mountain that is not connected to a range. It is typically forested and raises dramatically out of the surrounding landscape. While a sky island may be classified as part of a mountain range, it is not physically connected and is separated by a ‘sea’ of either desert, grassland, or in some cases scrubland. Because a sky island is an isolated ecosystem surrounded by another, dramatically different one, it includes species and/or subspecies not found anywhere else. Due to the steady change in altitude characteristic of a mountain, the range of any given species is even smaller. The biodiversity of an entire sky island is therefore very high. The biodiversity contribution of sky island ecosystems to biodiversity in general is invaluable. Predictably, these unique environments have attracted the attention of researchers in all areas of natural science.

While the interest of biologists, botanists and ecologists is predictable, there is another group of scientists whose interest is less intuitive and unfortunately often in direct conflict to those of the aforementioned natural scientists.

It didn’t take astronomers long to figure out what a prime location for observatories these isolated peaks, in the middle desert land, away from city lights and other pollutants were for telescopes. Unfortunately the goals of the sky gazers and those of the ground preservers don’t tend to mix. Clearing a space for observatories on top of sky islands has sparked more than one bitter battle.1

Ecology:

Sky islands have the layered ecosystems associated with a rapid change in elevation. The lowest levels contain semi-arid vegetation which progress to cool fir or spruce forested peaks. An example of a typical sky island progression in the Southwestern United States is as follows:

  • Sonoran Desertscrub Under 3,500ft this vegetation is an odd mix of cacti and non-succulent shrubs. Suguaros stand among mesquite and palo verde along with the infamous teddy bear cactus.
  • Chaparral begins at about 4,000 feet and consists of dense shrubs and small trees. Scrub oak, manzanita and some cacti such as prickly pear some commonly found species in chaparral.
  • Pinyon Pine-Juniper begins at about 5,500 feet and is dominated by small juniper and pine species. While it gets a reasonable amount of rainfall (12 to 20 inches in some places) this vegetation is drought resistant and prefers a somewhat arid climate. Unlike chaparral, this community consists of widely spaced trees and intermittent shrubs, grasses and wildflowers between.
  • Ponderosa Pine Forest begins at about 6000 to 6500 feet. It is dominated by tall shady Ponderosa with next to no undergrowth.
  • Fir Forest, or Mixed Fir Forest dominates many of the peaks of Southwestern Sky Islands. It occurs at between 8,000 and 10,000 feet. Unlike the Ponderosa forest this ecosystem contains many different species including several types of fir, spruce and a diverse undercover. Rainfall in this area can be up to 30 inches a year.
  • 1The controversial history of Mount Graham is the subject of another node I am working on. It is one of the more dramatic examples of competing interests in a sky island.

    Warshall, Peter “Southwestern Sky Island Ecosystems” accessed April 10, 2003
    http://biology.usgs.gov/s+t/frame/r119.htm
    "Sky Island Region" Arizona Roadside Environments accesssed April 10, 2003
    http://dana.ucc.nau.edu/~are-p/road_map/eco/skyisl.html

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