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The Amelia Six by Kristin L. Gray
Claws for Concern by Miranda James
A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette and Joell Jacob
Death by Vanilla Latte by Alex Erickson
Descender, Volume 4: Orbital Mechanics by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen
Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin
The Future is Blue by Catherynne M. Valente
Giant Days Volume 13 by John Allison
The Grim Reader by Kate Carlisle
The House in Poplar Wood by K.E. Ormsbee
Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena
In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany
In West Mills by De'Shawn Charles Winslow
Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski
Lu by Jason Reynolds
A Match Made in Heaven by Trina Robbins and Xian Nu Studio
The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott
Nightschool: The Weirn Books Collector's Edition, Volume 1 by Svetlana Chmakova
No Grater Danger by Victoria Hamilton and Emily Woo Zeller
The Not So Boring Letters of Private Nobody by Matthew Landis
Once Upon an Eid edited by S.K. Ali
The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Power of Her Pen by Lesa Cline-Ransome and John Parra
Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes
Roll with It by Jamie Sumner
Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru
Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright
This Is New York by Miroslav Sasek
Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James
Uzumaki by Junji Ito
Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin

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The Patchwork Girl of Oz: 07/17/20

The Patchwork Girl of Oz

The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum is the seventh book in the Oz series. It comes three years after the close of The Emerald City of Oz in which Baum said Ozma had cut him off from knowing future adventures. But a new technology made communicating possible:

"[T]he Historian rigged up a high tower in his back yard, and took lessons in wireless telegraphy until he understood and began to call 'Princess Dorothy of Oz' by sending messages into the air."

"And that was the way Dorothy heard that the Historian wanted to speak with her, and there was a Shaggy Man in the Land of Oz who knew how to telegraph a wireless reply."

In that time radio had begun going mainstream, being now a communication device on all U.S. ships, though speech over radio waves was a few years off. Think instead of Baum and Oz having SMS texting.

Book seven also initiates the second era of Oz, the time when Ozma's power over the nation becomes absolute as she transforms it into a eutopia (good place). The Patchwork Girl, Glass Cat, and the Phonograph are refugees from the era before when the practice of magic was more commonplace.

In Marvelous Land of Oz, Tip uses magic powder to bring to life Jack Pumpkinhead and a Saw Horse. The Patchwork Girl is created by the same powder, by the man who has continued to make it even though it's now contraband. He has also been mixing the formula that turns people to stone, and during Scrap's creation, the magician's wife is so turned.

Ojo, a Munchkin boy believed to be unlucky, decides to set out the Emerald City to ask Ozma to fix his aunt. Scraps, the Cat, and the Phonograph all decide to go even though their existence is proof of illegal magic wielding. Gone are happy go lucky farmers in blue clothing in this revisit of Munchkinland. Industrialization and crime have reached all the way here in the thirteen years since Dorothy's first visit.

While the journey to the Emerald City seems like a gender reverse of the first book (a boy traveler and a rag girl instead of boy scarecrow), it's also a reversal on the road narrative spectrum. The original book is the most extreme version of a road narrative: an orphan to utopia via the cornfield.

Here, though, we have nearly the polar opposite. Ojo and his travelers are known. They are traveling with a reputation. When they meet up with the Shaggy Man, an Oz celebrity for his ties to both Dorothy and Kansas, their status is further enhanced. This party of travelers are privileged (00).

The destination, while it might seem like the same place, namely the Emerald City, Dorothy's overall destination was Oz. More broadly put, her trip was to utopia (a no or unknown place). For Ojo and his companions, Oz is a known place, so the destination is just the city (00).

Now, though, the route taken, one might think is the blue highway (err, yellow brick road) but it's instead still aligned with an agrarian ideal. The route taken is the cornfield (FF), as represented by Ojo's traditional Munchkin attire and his enchanted loaf of bread that provides food no matter how much of it is eaten.

All together, book seven is the tale of privileged travelers on the way to the city via the cornfield (0000FF).

I will do a deeper dive into The Patchwork Girl Oz at a later date. The next book in the series is Tik-Tok of Oz (1914).

Four stars

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