What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy is the first book that I have read by Gregory Macguire. I’ve heard so many good things, so many bad things, so many so-so things about Macguire that I wanted to read one of his stories for myself and see what I thought of it. I know that Jennifer is a great fan of the musical Wicked and I have to agree with her on that front. I’ve heard the book is not like the musical at all so I’ve rather avoided the book. I was looking for a “safe” title and I found it amid other Candlewick Press publications.
This book is the story of a rogue toothfairy, as told by one of the main characters of the story, Gage. Gage knows about the toothfaries because he met one, even though they mean never to be seen by humans. Gage is relying this story to his three young cousins as a way to distract them from (what I eventually figured out) was a hurricane style storm that had cleared the city. In their solitude, in an attempt to avoid feelings of fear, he leads them down a magical and imaginative path where pulling teeth is mission-like (in the commando sense) work that the fairies are assigned to, and not so much about having children close their eyes and wish for quarters.
Macguire certainly has a unique style of story telling. The best way I can think of to describe his writing is to say that it is clear that he ENJOYS his storytelling. You can tell that he really loves what he does. Sometimes you can almost see a grin in the way he dashes out a few details and in the way he expresses humor through his characters. He’s just having fun! (At least, I would assume so. That’s how it came across to me.) And hey – I have no objections to Macguire having fun because it meant that I was having fun. Barring one opening remark in which he takes a swing at home schooling, the book was enjoyable and creative. I’m glad I tried out his writing and I’ve no doubt that I’ll revisit it again.
This book is earmarked for grades 5-8 and I would say that’s absolutely accurate. (Except that it is definitely a story that adults can and would enjoy as well!) The book was clean good fun and I feel not only good about recommending it – but great! I’m super glad I started with this particular work. If this is his general style then I can see why he’s grown in popularity. I would wish for more like What-the-Dickens. It’s just a good time.
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.