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Literature / The Patchwork Girl of Oz

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The Patchwork Girl of Oz is the seventh book in L. Frank Baum's Oz book series, which he was obliged to return to after a three year break due to his bankruptcy. It was published on July 1, 1913. Baum dedicated the book to Sumner Hamilton Britton, the young son of his publisher Sumner Charles Britton.

The hero of the tale is a Munchkin boy named "Ojo the Unlucky" who lives with his Unc Nunkie in a remote part of the Munchkin Country. They have noting to eat but bread, and there are only two loaves growing on their bread tree. They visit their only neighbors, Dr. Pipt and his wife Margolotte. There, they learn of the doctor's magic. Margolotte has used the Powder of Life (as seen in the second Oz book) to animate a glass cat named Bungle, and she plans to use the Powder to provide herself a servant. She makes a dummy out of a crazy quilt, and selects doses of "Obedience," "Amiability," and "Truth" from her jars of "Brain Furniture." Ojo surreptitiously supplements the brain mixture with doses of all the other available possibilities: "Cleverness," "Poesy," "Self-Reliance," etc. When the Patchwork Girl is animated with the Powder of Life, she is more of everything than anybody expected.

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When the Patchwork Girl awakens, Unc Nunkie and Margolotte are accidentally dosed with the Liquid of Petrifaction and are paralyzed into marble statues. Ojo, the zany Patchwork Girl, and the Glass Cat set out to gather the five exotic ingredients needed for the antidote, in a journey that takes them across the Land of Oz, and eventually involves the characters familiar to readers of the Oz books, such as Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Ozma and the Shaggy Man.

A silent film adaptation was released in 1914, with Baum's involvement.


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Tropes

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Dr. Pipt is not quite a Mad Scientist, and very amiable, but not completely trustworthy in his scatterbrained approach to things like security, or who he chooses to do business with.
  • Berserk Button: Parodied. The word "Krizzle-Kroo" sends the Woozy into a rage, because he has no idea what it means.
  • Big Brother Is Watching You: Ozma knows about it immediately when Ojo breaks the law by picking a six-leaf clover, and he gets arrested upon arriving at the Emerald City.
  • Big Eater: The Woozy, who's favorite food is honey-bees
  • Butt-Monkey: The Phonograph, which is brought to life accidentally and keeps wanting to play ragtime music, to the chagrin of everyone in earshot. Seems Baum wasn't a fan.
  • Catchphrase: Whenever something goes wrong, Ojo will state that the reason for the misfortune is that "I'm Ojo the Unlucky."
    • Bungle's feline vanity is always evident: "I have pink brains. You can see 'em work."
  • Cloudcuckoolander: As a result of Ojo's interference in Scrap's creation process, her brains are rather jumbled because he didn't organize them properly when placing them in her head. She considers herself better off.
  • Destined Bystander: Dr. Pipt was actually introduced and name-dropped already in the second Oz book, as the crooked magician Mombi was doing business with, and his Powder of Life played an important part in the plot. It's not until the seventh book, however, that he gets a full speaking role.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: The Horners didn't want to explain to the Hoppers their joke that Hoppers have less of an understanding for fear of spoiling it, and this led to a war between the two races. The Horners are later talked into explaining it by Scraps to stop the war; the Hoppers have less understanding because, as a one-legged race of people, they only have one leg to stand on.
  • Embarrassing First Name: The glass cat was named "Bungle" by Dr. Pipt because he considered her a failed experiment. She doesn't like the name at all.
  • Fearless Fool: The Woozy not afraid of anything and will cheerfully leap headfirst into danger. Luckily for him, he's also extremely tough and durable, and almost impossible to hurt or injure.
  • Filler: The Mr. Donkey and Mrs. Owl chapter accomplishes nothing except for Mr. Donkey advising Ojo to keep going the way he was and he'll eventually find the Yellow Brick Road, which he would have done anyway had he not stopped at their house.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The Woozy's fire-eyes. It only works, however, if he gets angry — which he seldom does, unless someone says "Krizzle-Kroo."
  • Genki Girl: Scraps is highly intelligent, easily bored, slightly insane in a good-natured way.
  • Happily Married: One of the few examples of this in Baum's children's books (he usually avoided romance altogether, believing that it would bore the children), Pipt and his wife Margolotte seem to have a very happy relationship — when she hasn't accidentally been turned into a marble statue, that is.
  • Loony Laws: Ojo thinks Ozma's law against picking six-leaf clovers is this at first. Turns out the law is part of Ozma's Ban on Magic, which is in place to prevent wicked witches from ever becoming a thing in Oz again. So, not so loony after all.
  • Loophole Abuse: Dr. Pipt thinks he's doing this with Ozma's law against working magic, believing that he's technically within the law if he works magic purely for his own amusement and comfort and doesn't work it on or for anyone else. Turns out the loophole doesn't even exist and he's most definitely breaking the law even by doing that much.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: The prison in the Emerald City is this, and Ojo becomes its first prisoner in years.
  • Magic Antidote: Ojo's quest calls for a slew of hard to find ingredients for Dr. Pipt's cure.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Ojo interferes in the creation of Scraps, giving her a lot more, and more chaotic, brains than she was supposed to have, which is what gives the Patchwork Girl her chaotic and eccentric personality — which in turn is a major driving factor in the accident that turns both Unc Nunkie and Margolotte to stone.
  • No Antagonist: Aside from a few minor obstacles such as the chiss and Mr. Yoop the giant, there's no true antagonist. Even Dr. Pipt, arguably the cause of the conflict in the story, isn't anywhere near outright villainous. Most fans agree that Baum pulled off the plot well regardless, making the story much more interesting than the similarly villain-less (and often criticized as a bit boring) The Road to Oz.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Scraps makes up little songs and poems on the spot; some of the later books has her talking entirely in verse.
  • The Runaway: Scraps refuses to return to Dr. Pipt in her first appearance, and later stars in an entire book about her running away (and the places and people she runs into along the way).
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Woozy was trapped in an enclosure with a fence too tall for him to jump over, and didn't think to use his fire gaze to break out himself until Ojo and pals came along. (Then again, these was nobody around to say "Krizzle-Kroo" to him.)
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The Tin Woodman believes Ojo's "The Unlucky" nickname to be this and changes it to "Ojo the Lucky," which he is known as in all subsequent books.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The characters journey to find the ingredients for a magical concoction that will save two people who have been petrified. They find all of them but one, which should have been the easiest; the wing of a yellow butterfly. But the lands on which yellow butterflies live are ruled by the Tin Man, and he won't let a butterfly come to any harm, rendering the quest pointless. And then Glinda just fixes the people by magic anyway, making it even more so. The characters even met with Dorothy and Ozma earlier on, and they didn't even suggest this possibility, or mention the Tin Man's feelings about living things.
    • Maybe they just thought the Tin Man should speak for himself, they were his butterflies.
      • Also, Glinda didn't undo the statue spell until it was clear it couldn't be broken the other way without hurting any butterflies.
  • Ship Tease: Scraps with the Scarecrow.
  • Silly Reason for War: The Hoppers and the Horners are at war because the Horners made a joke that the Horner's have less of an "understanding"...because their race only has one leg to stand on.
  • Taken for Granite: Unc Nunkie and Margolette's transformation to marble statues sets off the plot.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: One of the reasons he's called "Ojo the Unlucky" is that he was born on Friday the 13th. He doesn't explain it correctly, though. When he tries to explain it, he treats "Friday" and "the thirteenth" as separate reasons — or the Tin Woodman misunderstands it as separate reasons.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Honey bees. Woozy got into quite a bit of trouble with the Munchkin beekeepers because of this.
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