Baum dedicated the book to Sumner Hamilton Britton, the young son of his publisher Sumner Charles Britton.
The full text of The Patchwork Girl of Oz can be found online here at Project Gutenberg's website.
Ojo, called "Ojo the Unlucky," is a Munchkin boy 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 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.
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. They set off across the Land of Oz for a series of adventures.
Along the way they meet the Woozy, who joined their party because the three hairs on his tail were need for the antidote. They were captured by Man-Eating Plants, but the Shaggy Man happened along and rescued them. They traveled a tricky part of the road that moves backward, and encountered Chiss. In the Emerald City they met Dorothy Gale and the Scarecrow.
Although he had been warned, Ojo broke the law by picking a Six-leaved Clover, which was one of the ingredients needed to save his uncle. He was promptly arrested by the Soldier with the Green Whiskers at the gate of the Emerald City and spent a night in prison with Tollydiggle the jailer. He met Ozma the next morning and she forgave his crime.
Dorothy and the Scarecrow joined Ojo and the Patchwork Girl on their quest, leaving the Glass Cat and the Woozy behind in the Emerald City. They encountered Tottenhots and the captive Yoop, and brought an end to the war between the Hoppers and Horners. The Horners also provided Ojo with another of the ingredients for his antidote: water from a dark well.
The travelers rafted down a Trick River and reached the Winkie Country to find the final ingredient, the left wing of a yellow butterfly. The Tin Woodman, as Emperor of the Winkies, forbade them from injuring even one of the smallest of the creatures in his country.
When it appeared that Ojo's quest had failed, the forces of good in the Emerald City stepped in. The Wizard of Oz found a way to disenchant Unc Nunkie and Margolotte, and Ojo was renamed "Ojo the Lucky".
- Unc Nunkie
- Margolotte and Dr. Pipt
- The Glass Cat
- The Patchwork Girl
- Victor Columbia Edison
- The Foolish Owl and the Wise Donkey
- The Woozy
- The Shaggy Man
- The Scarecrow
- The Sawhorse
- The Soldier with the Green Whiskers
- The Guardian of the Gates
- Dorothy Gale and Toto
- Ozma and the Wizard
- Jack Pumpkinhead
- The Tottenhots
- Hip Hopper
- Jak Horner and Diksey Horner
- The Lazy Quadling
- The Tin Woodman
Baum had stopped his Oz series in 1910 with the sixth book, The Emerald City of Oz. He wanted to tell other types of fantasy stories. Yet his alternate works, The Sea Fairies (1911) and Sky Island (1912), were less successful than his Oz books. His child readers wanted more Oz; and his 1911 bankruptcy meant that he needed more royalty income from his books. A return to Oz was requisite.
But how? At the end of the sixth book, Baum had sealed Oz off from the rest of the world with a barrier of invisibility. Taking a hint from one of his child fans, the author got around this barrier by introducing the "wireless telegraph" to Oz. Fortunately, the Shaggy Man knows Morse code.
Extant evidence shows that Baum had originally written a different Chapter 21 for the book. His text has not survived, but John Neill's pictures and captions still exist. The original chapter was called "The Garden of Meats," and dealt with vegetable people like the Mangaboos of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Neill's pictures show flowers with children's faces being watered by their vegetable-men growers. The vegetable creatures grow ordinary humans, "meat people," apparently for food. (This is thematically linked with the anthropophagous plants in Chapter 10 of Patchwork Girl.)
Publisher Frank Reilly suggested to Baum that the material in this chapter was not "in harmony with your other fairy stories," and would generate "considerable adverse criticism." Baum saw his point, and the chapter was dropped. Baum suggested replacing the excised material with an episode about "Marshmallow Twins, who are to appear in another story." Yet Neill had already completed his pictures for the volume, and neither chapter was used. The marshmellow twins were stillborn in the author's imagination.
Baum's return to Oz met with public acceptance. The Patchwork Girl of Oz sold 17,000 copies in its first year on the market, better than Baum's non-Oz fantasies had done. (Emerald City had sold 20,000 copies in the same interval.)
The Patchwork Girl proved a popular character, who could be relied upon for comic relief; she makes appearances in many subsequent Oz books. Her contributions to the plot resolutions of The Lost Princess of Oz and Glinda of Oz are notable. Baum's successor Ruth Plumly Thompson also made use of Patchwork Girl comedy.
Other Oz writers have also taken advantage of the Patchwork Girl's possibilities. Gilbert M. Sprague even has the Patchwork Girl and Scarecrow get married in his The Patchwork Bride of Oz.
Outside the bounds of Oz, Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl is a critically-praised work of hypertext fiction that exploits the Frankenstein story in a feminist context.
- Michael O. Riley. Oz and Beyond: the Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum. Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1997.
- Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.
|L. Frank Baum's original Oz books|