What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy

Gregory Maguire

What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy
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What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy

Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire does for the dark and stormy night what he did for witches in Wicked. - The New York Times Book Review A terrible storm is raging, and Dinah is huddled by candlelight with her brother, sister, and cousin Gage, who is telling a very unusual tale. It’s the story of What-the-Dickens, a newly hatched orphan creature who finds he has an attraction to teeth, a crush on a cat named McCavity, and a penchant for getting into trouble. One day he happens upon a feisty girl skibberee working as an Agent of Change - trading coins for teeth - and learns of a dutiful tribe of tooth fairies to which he hopes to belong. As his tale unfolds, however, both What-the-Dickens and Dinah come to see that the world is both richer and far less sure than they ever imagined.


This highly inventive novel is really two stories in one. Three children and their older cousin are trapped at home in a violent storm when electricity, food and communications are almost non-existent and life is dangerous and a bit scary. The cousin tells a story about a lost fairy-like creature – a skibbereen – who sets out full of hope and ignorance to find out what he is and where he belongs. The world of tooth fairies is infinitely less sappy and more interesting than we have ever dreamed and this is a quirky, often funny adventure fantasy.

But it is difficult to classify agewise. Maybe for 11+ to read to themselves, but most suited to a family read aloud for 8-ish to adult. For, as Gregory Maguire says in the foreword explaining the provenance of the book (partly after Hurricane Katrina), ‘the nutrition that stories provide is nearly as vital as shelter and clean water and food’.

Kathy Kozlowski is from Readings Carlton

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