Review of Oz Book 7: The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)
As of this book, I’m halfway through the official original run of Baum Oz books. I’m not including “extra” stories Baum wrote like The Woggle Bug Book or Little Wizard Stories of Oz. I’m talking about the main “canon” Oz books. There were 14 of them and today’s book is number 7, The Patchwork Girl of Oz.
This seventh book begins with two munchkins, Ojo and his Uncle Nunkie living in seclusion in the forests of Munchkinland. They are about to starve so they leave in search of help. They go to Nunkie’s old friend the Crooked Magician. While there, the two witness a demonstration of “The Powder of Life” which was previously used in The Marvelous Land of Oz to animate Jack Pumpkinhead, the Sawhorse and The Gump. However, Nunkie and the Crooked Magician’s wife are accidentally turned into marble statues when the Magician tries to use the Powder to animate a patchwork rag doll for his wife to use as a housekeeper. So Ojo volunteers to search the Land of Oz to find the five rare ingredients the Crooked Magician needs to reverse the marble spell on their loved ones. The five ingredients Ojo needs are 1) Six leafed clover found only around the Emerald City 2) Three hairs from the tail of The Woozy 3) Water from a Dark Well 4) Drop of oil from a live man’s body 5) Left wing of a yellow butterfly found only in Winkie Country. Along the way, Ojo meets many crazy characters and eventually makes it to the Emerald City and meets Ozma, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Nick Chopper (Tin Woodsman) and the whole gang who help Ojo to find the items and free his Uncle.
Clearly you do.
The last three Oz books have been very good. Especially the last one (#6). However, this one is the best so far. Baum’s clever writing is showcased in spades in this book. He makes so many clever word puns and funny phrases that I was chuckling throughout.
Some examples of the clever writing:
“…he has lived alone in the heart of the forest for many years…and, although that is a barbarous country, there are no barbers there.” –Crooked Magician about Uncle Nunkie
“…my magic made you, and made you live; and it was a poor job because you are useless and a bother to me.” –Crooked Magician to the Glass Cat
“It is classical music, and is considered the best and most puzzling ever manufactured. You’re supposed to like it, whether you do or not, and if you don’t, the proper thing is to look as if you did.” –Shaggy Man on classical music
“We’ve no objection to you as a machine, you know, but as a music-maker we hate you.” –Ojo to the walking phonograph
And the different lands Ojo encounters are just amazingly detailed and the situations he finds himself in are really fun and interesting. Yes, this is essentially a road trip journey just like 5.5 of the last six books, but I had so much more fun with this one than I did the others. And it helps that John Neill’s illustrations are just so detailed and amazing. If I had trouble picturing something like The Woozy from the descriptions, there would be a Neill illustration on the next page to help me. Which is another reason I choose to seek out illustrated copies of these books and not just read the text only versions that are readily available. The illustrations are equally half the story.
Like the last four books, I read the e-version of this book on my Nook from Eltanin Publishing. Their e-translations of Baum’s books and Neill’s illustrations have been excellent. Unfortunately, Eltanin stops with this book. They are currently working on the next 7 books, but I must continue and can’t wait to see when they’ll release the next book. So I’ve been seeking illustrated versions of these eBooks elsewhere. I think I found some, I’ll let you know how they are.