The Patchwork Girl of Oz

The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum is a children's novel, the 7th set in the Land of Oz. Characters include the Woozy, Ojo "the Unlucky", Unc Nunkie, Dr. Pipt, Scraps (the patchwork girl), and others. The book was first published on July 1, 1913, with illustrations by John R. Neill. In 1914, Baum adapted the book to film through his "Oz Film Manufacturing Company."

The Patchwork Girl of Oz
First edition cover
AuthorL. Frank Baum
IllustratorJohn R. Neill
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Oz books
GenreChildren's novel
PublisherReilly & Britton
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Preceded byThe Emerald City of Oz 
Followed byTik-Tok of Oz 

In the previous Oz book, The Emerald City of Oz, magic was used to isolate Oz from all outside worlds. Baum did this to end the Oz series, but was forced to restart the series with this book due to financial hardships.[1] In the prologue, he explains how he got another story about Oz, even though it is isolated from all other worlds. He explains that a child suggested he make contact with Oz with wireless telegraphy.[2] Glinda, using her book that records everything that happens, is able to know that someone is using a telegraph to contact Oz, so she erects a telegraph tower and has the Shaggy Man, who knows how to make a telegraph reply, tell the story contained in this book to Baum.

The book was dedicated to Sumner Hamilton Britton, the young son of one of its publishers, Sumner Charles Britton of Reilly & Britton.


Ojo the very unlucky is a young Munchkin boy who, devoted to life with his uncle Unc Nunkie in the wilderness but on the verge of starvation, goes to see a neighboring "magician" and old friend of Unc, Dr. Pipt. While there they see a demonstration of the Pipt-made Powder of Life, which animates any object it touches after saying the magic words. Unc Nunkie and Dr. Pipt's wife are also the sufferers of the consequences of another of the Doctor's inventions, the Liquid of Petrifaction, which turns them into solid marble statues.

The remainder of this book is Ojo's quest through Oz to collect the five components of an antidote to the Liquid: a six-leaved clover found only in the Emerald City, three hairs from the tip of a Woozy's tail, a gill (a quarter of a pint) of water from a dark well (one that remains untouched by natural light), a drop of oil from a live man's body, and the left wing of a yellow butterfly. With the help of the life-size patchwork doll named Scraps, Bungle the snobbish Glass Cat (another of Dr. Pipt's creations), the Woozy, Dorothy, the Shaggy Man, and the Scarecrow, Ojo gathers all of these supplies but the left wing – the Tin Woodman, who rules the yellow Winkie Country, which is the only place where yellow butterflies grow, will not allow any living thing to be killed, even to save another's life.

The party returns to the Emerald City, where the Wizard of Oz (one of the few allowed to lawfully practice magic in Oz) uses his own magic to restore Unc Nunkie and Dr. Pipt's wife. The story is also a growth process for Ojo; he learns that luck is not a matter of who you are or what you have, but what you do; he is renamed "Ojo the Lucky", and so he appears in the following Oz books.

Background and analysis

In reference to The Patchwork Girl of Oz, one of Baum's letters to his publisher, Sumner Britton of Reilly & Britton, offers unusual insight on Baum's manner of creating his Oz fantasies:

A lot of thought is required on one of these fairy tales. The odd characters are a sort of inspiration, liable to strike me at any time, but the plot and plan of adventures takes me considerable time...I live with it day by day, jotting down on odd slips of paper the various ideas that occur and in this way getting my materials together. The new Oz book is at this's a long way from being ready for the printer yet. I must rewrite it, stringing the incidents into consecutive order, elaborating the characters, etc. Then it's typewritten. Then it's revised, retypewritten and sent on to Reilly and Britton.[3]

The same correspondence (November 23–7, 1912) discusses the deleted Chapter 21 of the book, "The Garden of Meats." The text of the chapter has not survived, but Neill's illustrations and their captions still exist. The deleted chapter dealt with a race of vegetable people comparable to the Mangaboos in Chapters 4–6 of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. The vegetable people grow what Baum elsewhere calls "meat people," apparently for food; Neill's pictures show plants with the heads of human children[4] being watered by their growers. (This is thematically connected with the anthropophagous plants in Chapter 10 of Patchwork Girl.) Frank Reilly tactfully wrote to Baum that the material was not "in harmony with your other fairy stories," and would generate "considerable adverse criticism." Baum saw his point; the chapter was dropped.[5]

At least at one point in his life, Baum stated that he considered The Patchwork Girl of Oz "one of the two best books of my career", the other being The Sea Fairies.[6] The book was a popular success, selling just over 17,000 copies—though this was somewhat lower than the total for the previous book, The Emerald City of Oz, and marked the start of a trend in declining sales for the Oz books that would not reverse until The Tin Woodman of Oz in 1918.


Baum also wrote a musical stage adaptation of the book, circa 1913, with composer Louis F. Gottschalk; however, this musical was never staged. Excerpts have occasionally been performed at various annual conventions of The International Wizard of Oz Club.


  1. Riley 1997, p. 171
  2. Riley 1997, p. 176
  3. Rogers 2002, pp. 179–80
  4. Bodiless human heads are rather a pre-occupation with Baum; they occur repeatedly in his fantasies, Ozma of Oz, Chapter 6 and The Tin Woodman of Oz, Chapter 18 being two examples.
  5. Rogers 2002, pp. 198–9
  6. Rogers 2002, p. 184


  • Riley, Michael O. (1997). Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum. ISBN 0-7006-0832-X.
  • Rogers, Katharine M. (2002). L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz. Macmillan.
The Oz books
Previous book:
The Emerald City of Oz
The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Next book:
Tik-Tok of Oz
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