Fantasy Book Review

The Gnome King of Oz

by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Series: Oz 21
Reviewed date: 2023 Jul 21
237 pages
cover art

Not a strong entry in the series.

Scraps the Patchwork Girl is shanghaied to the land of Patch to serve as Queen of the Quilties. The position of Queen means she must be a servant to all the other Quilties, so Scraps, along with Grumpy the stuffed bear, plot their escape.

Meanwhile, Peter Brown, a baseball-crazy boy from Philadelphia, finds himself transported not to Oz but to a deserted island where he meets the exiled Gnome King. Exiled to an island? Able was I ere I saw Elba? Anyway. A conveniently-timed seaquake causes the ocean to open and lay the sea floor bare. This allows Gnome King and Peter to escape the island—but before they escape they pilfer some treasure and magical items from a shipwreck. The Gnome King's plan is to conquer Oz, and Peter tags along hoping to foil the plot.

Peter and the Gnome King meet Scraps and Grumpy, and they also pick up a helpful Oztrich. Once everyone arrives in the Emerald City, the Gnome King—who by this time has the Magic Belt and a cloak of invisibility—appears poised to seize power. Just in time, Peter—who is a real baseball fanatic, remember—hurls a baseball-sized emerald at the Gnome King, which causes him to go mute and he can't speak any words to use his magic. Thus the day is saved.

Like most Ruth Plumly Thompson books, this one relies too much on puns and wordplay. The plot wasn't satisfactory. I know Baum did some of that stuff too, but when his characters talked it was interesting and funny. Not with Thompson. She can write a decent tale that will hold the attention of young children, but there isn't anything special here.

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