So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Runaway in Oz

The Runaway in Oz by John R. Neill

When John R. Neill died in 1943 after writing three Oz books, the manuscript of this book was left without illustrations and unpublished. Preserved by Neill's family for over 50 years, Eric Shanower finally editing it and provided his own marvelous black-and-white drawings to bring it to press. At the time of his death, Neill had illustrated all but the first Oz book, and his illustrations have come to define the people and land of Oz to generations of readers. Shanower's illustrations follow in Neill's style, improving, if that is possible, on the work of the master. The story evolves around the theme of anger and its effects as Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, in a fit of anger decides to run away. Scraps is a living life-size doll that was introduced by L.Frank Baum in the novel The Patchwork Girl of Oz. She was created by Dr. Pipt with his amazing Elixir of Life that brings anything to life on which it is sprinkled, including the Wooden Sawhorse, Jack Pumpkinhead and the Gump. Originally designed to be obedient and submissive, Scraps brain was surreptitiously redesigned by Ojo. He felt it would be unfair for a living creature to only have a servile brain and he added lots of brain powders that made Scraps one of the most interesting beings in Oz. Upsetting many of the people she runs into, Scraps still manages to befriend Popla, the Power Plant, who is possibly the most unusual character in a land known for its strange inhabitants. Popla is the strongest plant in the world and grows alone on a windswept mountaintop. Scraps, finding a flowerpot, takes the Power Plant, who has never left the spot where she first sprouted, on a exciting and enjoyable journey. Together they travel on Scraps spoolicle, a bicycle with wooden spools for wheels, and through their adventures a lasting friendship is created that dissolves Scraps anger. Anyone who has ever enjoyed an Oz book will love this unique contribution to the Oz corpus.

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