Public Domain Super Heroes

Chick the Cherub

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Chick the Cherub

Real Name


First Appearance

John Dough and the Cherub (1906)

Original Publisher

Reilly & Britton

Created by

L. Frank Baum


Chick the Cherub is a child who once lived on the Isle of Phreex and later became Head Booleywag to King John Dough of Hiland and Loland.

The child has fair hair, falling in fleecy waves to its shoulders, but not particularly groomed. It has delicate features, rosy cheeks, and round blue eyes. For clothing, Chick wears white garments like pyjamas, with wide flowing sleeves and legs, and sandals to protect the feet. Chick claims to be six years old, but has been making that claim for several years.

Chick is known as an Incubator Baby because the child has no parents. The name "Chick" comes from chickens, which are usually raised in incubators.

Chick lived in a third-floor apartment in the Royal Palace of Phreex.

Chick met John Dough when the Gingerbread Man visited the Isle of Phreex, befriending him and showing him around the island and introducing him to the interesting residents. When Ali Dubh appeared and tried to eat John, Chick escaped with him aboard a flying machine built by Imar.

After a long flight over the ocean, they landed on the roof of the Palace of Romance. They were invited to tell all the stories they knew, and were warned that when the stories stopped, they would be thrown into the ocean. With boundless imagination, Chick began to create stories about the Silver Pig of Dagupan. After many days of storytelling and nights of searching, John and Chick were able to find their flying machine and escape the island.

They crashed on the Isle of Mifkets and befriended a rubber bear named Para Bruin and a sickly Princess named Jacquelin. John and Chick risked their lives trying to protect the Princess from the primitive natives, and were helped by the King of the Fairy Beavers. The Beaver King later helped John, Chick, and Para Bruin escape Mifket Island aboard a flock of flamingos.

After a brief stop on Pirate Island, they finally landed on the island of Hiland and Loland. Chick explored the twin kingdoms and learned that they were awaiting a prophesied king whose description matched that of John Dough perfectly: a man not made of flesh and blood. John was crowned king and Chick became his Head Booleywag.

John Dough, Chick, and Para Bruin later visited the Emerald City in the Land of Oz as guests of Princess Ozma in honor of her birthday.

Public Domain Appearances


  • John Dough and the Cherub
  • The Road to Oz


  • The Fairylogue and Radio-Plays
  • John Dough and the Cherub


  • Throughout his text, Baum is careful never to specify the sex of his character, Chick the Cherub, even to the point of referring to Chick as "it" instead of "he" or "she." Chick dresses in androgynous pyjamas; Neill pictures Chick in a Buster Brown haircut that could fit either a boy or a girl.
    • The publishers wanted Baum to resolve the ambiguity, but he refused. Eventually, they made the best of the situation: in the publicity campaign for the original edition, Reilly & Britton conducted a contest in which the book's child readers could vote on Chick's sex. The children who gave the best answers, in 25 words or less, won prizes. The contest's second-place prize was won by a boy who read the story in the Seattle Times. His entry read, "The Cherub was a girl because if it had been a boy he would have eaten the ginger-bread man at once whether it agreed with him or not." The first place winner was never revealed, leaving the character's sex ambiguous still to this day.
  • While the original character who appeared in Oz books published before 1923 is in public domain, any versions published post-1923 are NOT.

See Also

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