|The Tin Woodman of Oz by L. Frank Baum,|
illustrated by John R. Neill.
Originally published by Reilly & Britton, 1918.
Books of Wonder edition, HarperCollins, 1999.
We are 80 pages into the twelfth Oz book, The Tin Woodman of Oz. I told the daughters, once we finished Rinkitink, there was nothing but good stuff to follow. They loved The Lost Princess of Oz, as I knew they would. I remembered loving this one the first time through, but I'm surprised by what I forgot.
The Tin Woodman of Oz opens in the Winkie Country, at the tin castle of the title character. As he is entertaining his friend, the Scarecrow, they are visited by a young Gillikin boy, Woot the Wanderer.
Their conversation turns to the Tin Woodman's pre-tin life in the Munchkin Country, when he was a flesh-and-blood woodcutter named Nick Chopper. As he first explained in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Nick Chopper was in love with a lass named Nimmie Amee, slave to the Wicked Witch of the East. Overhearing them in the garden one day, the Witch enchanted Nick Chopper's axe, causing him to chop off his leg. A local tinsmith kindly fashioned him a new one, but the enchanted axe continued to chop off body part after body part, until the entire man was made of tin. Without a heart, the Tin Woodsman fell out of love with the girl. Even the heart supplied by the Wizard did no good, as it was a kind heart, not a loving heart.
The Tin Woodsman wonders about Nimmie Amee. Has she missed him all this time? He resolves to travel to Munchkin Land and propose to her. He may not love her, but wouldn't it be kind of him to make her Empress of the Winkies? Woot the Wanderer doubts it, but he's very happy to accompany his new friends on the quest.
Along the way, they meet the usual assortment of strange peoples, starting with the inflatable Loons of Loonville, hot-tempered balloon people who pop and must be repaired.
And they meet the giantess, Mrs. Yoop, wife of Mr. Yoop from The Patchwork Girl of Oz. Mrs. Yoop is a Yookoohoo, a type of witch, and specializes in transformations. The biscuits she eats as our heroes enter her dining room, for example, were mice! She has also transformed a popular character into a canary, which she keeps in a cage. Unfortunately, she intends to transform our trio, too.
And she does.
The Tin Woodman of Oz sees the return of Jinjur, the girl general who led the revolt in The Marvelous Land of Oz, only now she is a force of good. She sends to the Emerald City for help, but Woot's weird "green monkey" form proves to be a bit of a challenge.
I had honestly forgotten most of the book to this point. What I remember best is the weird, funny trip to Munchkin Land, where they encounter another tin man, a soldier named Captain Fy-ter. The captain has much in common with the Tin Woodsman. He joins the band to find Nimmie Amee.
And things get crazy from there. I mean, crazy. Conversations with one's own disembodied head, a man cobbled together from cast off body parts... Trust me. You really ought to read this book.
The Tin Woodman of Oz has some lovely black and white illustrations, courtesy of John R. Neill. There doesn't seem to be as many color plates, but Neill finally gives us a look at Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter, in color!
Our next book is The Magic of Oz. I remember someone changes into a bird. I don't remember much more, except I'm looking forward to the return of Bungle, the Glass Cat, one of my favorite characters.
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