The Patchwork Girl of Oz

The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by John R. Neill.
Published by Reilly & Britton, 1913.
Books of Wonder facsimile edition published by HarperCollins, 1995.

Okay, okay - last Oz post for a while, I promise.

This is the one we're reading right now.  This is the one I was eager to get to, because this is the one where we finally meet my favorite character in Oz.

This is Scraps, the Patchwork Girl of Oz.  This is also my favorite illustration.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz was L. Frank Baum's return to the series.  If you remember, at the end of The Emerald City of Oz, Baum had Glinda seal his fairyland off from the rest of the world.  He ended the book by telling his readers he no longer had access to any of the stories.  However, back in the real world, Baum experienced some financial setbacks, so two years later, he returned to the Oz books, as they were always surefire sellers.  

Now let us admire John R. Neill's glorious endpapers.

In his prologue, Baum explains that one of his young readers suggested that perhaps he could communicate with the citizens of Oz via telegraph.  Apparently, the Shaggy Man dictated this whole story to Baum using Morse code.

One of the reasons Baum did not want to write any more Oz books was that he had other fantasy worlds and amazing characters he wanted to write about.  And he did write many non-Oz books, but the public only wanted Oz.  Well, if he was going to be stuck with the Oz series, who says he had to stick with his regular cast of characters?  Who says he couldn't venture to other fairylands, as long as the book returned to Oz?

At the beginning of Patchwork Girl, we meet a young Munchkin boy named Ojo, who ventures with his Unc Nunkie to the nearest neighbor's home in search of food.  The neighbor is Dr. Pipt, the Crooked Magician, who has almost completed a new batch of the Powder of Life, which he plans to use on a life-size doll sewn by his wife, Margolotte.  Margolotte needs a servant girl, so she has fashioned one out of a patchwork quilt.  She intends to give her only enough brains to make her an obedient worker, but when her back is turned, Ojo adds a great deal more to her stuffed head.  We also meet another favorite character of mine, Bungle the Glass Cat, brought to life by the same Powder, who has a hard ruby heart and pearly pink brains - "You can see them work."

An accident leaves Unc Nunkie and Margolotte frozen like marble, so Ojo sets off in search of the items Dr. Pipt needs to set them free.  He is accompanied by the crazy, clever Scraps and the vain, brittle Glass Cat. Their first item is found when they come upon The Woozy, another wonderful Baum creation, a square dog-like animal with skin so tough, no one can pull out the three hairs in his tail (the needed ingredient).  We meet some other interesting creatures before we finally find a familiar face - The Shaggy Man.  From there, the rest of the adventure unfolds, as our new heroes meet old heroes.  The entire book is full of some of Neill's most beautiful illustrations, including some spectacular double-page spreads.  Seriously, if you have ever thought about reading these books, this one should convince you to give them a try.

A few bonus items:

A year later, Baum would once again experience a financial setback.  His Oz Film Manufacturing Company made several feature films, including a rather different Patchwork Girl of Oz, all of which were commercial failures. 

Did you know that Walt Disney had once planned his own Oz feature film?  Here is some footage from an episode of "The Mickey Mouse Club" from 1957.  His planned film would have been called The Rainbow Road to Oz, and seemed to be a hodge-podge of this book and The Road to Oz.

One last thing to share with you today.  One of my very favorite items at the Oz Museum in Wamego was this little Woozy figure, handmade by L. Frank Baum himself, not long before his death.

And now I am done.

I have to be.  I will soon have a month's worth of holidays to be obnoxious about.  You're going to long for the days I droned on and on about Oz, wink wink.

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  1. Hello, have you read The Borrower? (Apologies if I've said this before - it pops into my head every time I read something about oz) if you haven't its a novel for adults about a kids librarian who notices an unhappy child. Turns out he's being sent to an un-gaying camp as his parents are v conservative. Anyways, the librarian asks a gay friend of hers what would he recommend for kids like that boy to read and he says all the oz books cos they are about characters who are quite different, and they don't change in the story, but they are fine in the end.

    1. That's awesome! No, I haven't read it, but I shall check the library now...

      And I just placed my request! :)

  2. omg I love you. I love that you love Oz as much (more!) as I do. The glass cat!!! You can see them work!!! I forgot about that line!!!! Next series, that's it, we're doing Oz. Yes yes yes yes. People, please listen to your sweet friend Danzel and read Oz books!! They are the greatest.

    Have you ever read Queen Xixi of Ix? That's actually one of my top L. Frank Baum books. I call dibs for reviewing it on my bloggy! :) The illustrations are amaaaaazing and I lost my copy and I have to get a new one.

    1. I haven't read any of the non-Oz books. EEK. I do have a cool hardcover of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, published in the early '80s with the original Mary Cowles Clark illustrations. I hope we read it this year. I have a few other books in free/cheap eBook form on the Nook, but as you know, I hate reading books on the Nook. :)

  3. I wonder what would have happened if Disney had made that movie.... I think Baum probably did good to return because I know nostalgic people can never end the story! I really have to read all the serie one day! And don't worry for December posting... I just can't wait to see what you have planned!

    1. I think Disney's movie would have been a little on the cheesy side. I think he knew it, too, which is why he scrapped it for Babes in Toyland. But his company did land the rights to the stuff that wasn't yet in the public domain, and years later, the company made a different pseudo-sequel, Return to Oz, and a pseudo-prequel, Oz: The Great and Powerful.

      The series is great, and I love that he drifts away from his stock characters and lets new characters take the lead. That said, my other favorite Oz book, The Lost Princess of Oz, reunites most of the characters from across the series, and there is a lot of joy in that. (That book is further into the series. Big Sis remembers it best from when we read the book the first time. She is very excited to get to it!)

      I have so many holiday titles checked out right now, it's a bit crazy. I'll definitely have to pick and choose...

  4. I have a pile of unread books next to my bed right now, but that's it, after Christmas I have to get the Oz sequels and finally start reading them! The book looks amazing. I never get tired of reading your Oz posts, they're soooo cool!

    1. Oh, thanks! I worry I'm annoying, but we really are in the process of reading them all, so there's a lot of Oz talk in this house. :) I really love the series. Some books are better than others, of course, but as a whole, they're so much fun!

  5. Your love for Oz is so cool... :) I love these illustrations! So great to see such a loveliness after busy work weeks!

    1. Thanks! ;) If you grow up in Kansas, you hear every Oz joke imaginable. Might as well embrace it!


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