Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Magic Finger

The Magic Finger
Roald Dahl ~ William Pène du Bois ~ Harper, 1966

Possibly my son's favorite Dahl book, he's spend the last few years enjoying the Quentin Blake illustrations, and it was only recently that we checked the original version out from the library. Now, I love children's things that have a decidedly anti-gun theme. Not to say that I am against guns or hunting as to each his own, but children's stories that show the repercussions of killing living creatures hold a warm spot in my heart. Iron Giant, great anti-gun film for kids. Thus, where The Magic Finger comes in. A story told by a little girl with a magic touch about her gun toting neighbors. So, the story begins...

Now the one thing that Mr. Gregg and his two boys loved to do more than anything else was to go hunting. Every Saturday morning they would take their guns and go off into the woods to look for animals and birds to shoot. Even Philip, who was only eight years old, had a gun of his own.

I can't stand hunting. I just can't stand it. It doesn't seem right to me that men and boys should kill animals just for the fun they get out of it. So I used to try and stop Philip and William from doing it.

And that she does. By putting the magic finger on the whole lot of them. What is the magic finger, you ask?

Well, one time when the girl put the magic finger on her teacher, she turned into a cat. Du Bois created an incredible trick of the eye by taking these two pictures and putting them on both sides of a single page with the instructions HOLD THIS PAGE UP TO BRIGHT LIGHT. I've never seen this done in a book before, but the result is pure genius.... a cat lady!

Once the magic finger touches the Gregg family, they find themselves trading places with a flock of ducks and hilarity ensues.

Never a dull Dahl, I tell you.

Also by:
The Runaway Flying Horse
Bear Party
Otto in Texas
The Light Princess
My Grandson Lew
Dirty Beasts
The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me
Fantastic Mr. Fox


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Anonymous said...

This is a copy I would be glad to read.
Thanks for this post.

Chandra said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! We really love Roald Dahl, but (and I feel like I should duck for cover when I say this) I really can't stand Quentin Blake's illustrations! Ugh, just ugh - I have a really weird, personal, visceral reaction to them. They almost ruin the stories for me. When we read James and the Giant Peach I specifically sought out the illustrations by Nancy Eckholm Burkert and, so far, that's been one of my favorite Dahl stories. I suffered through the illustrations in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because that's such a great story, but couldn't get through Great Glass Elevator. Do you know if any of the others (Matilda, Charlie, The Witches, BFG, etc) have been illustrated by other illustrators?

Burgin Streetman said...

You are so funny! I know Danny, Charlie and Mr. Fox were... I assume most of them were illustrated by others, but those are the only older ones we have. Glass Elevator though.... That's just a crummy book in my opinion. It's the only Dahl I don't like!

Dave said...

I've been rereading all of Dahl's books to my boys lately and couldn't agree more about Great Glass Elevator being pants, I just don't like it. The version I have has illustrations by someone other than Blake (who I love to bits, including his writing, Mr Magnolia is great)

Antmusic said...

This version FREAKED me out when I was little... Those pictures! Now, of course, I love the books that scared/scarred me as a child. Well, I found myself a copy of it finally this weekend at a library sale. Yay! They had two, but I left the other for another lucky book nut. Last year, I found the 1st ed of Mr. Fox at this sale!

ahoi! said...

These illustrations are so great. I like Quentin Blake when he illustrates his own books, but less so in the Dahl books. My biggest problem is the cover design of most of the Blake/Dahl reissues, but I suspect that's more the fault of the publisher.

Thanks for this post. I'm still looking for the original Mr. Fox too (hint, hint).

...and thanks to Chandra for her spirited comment!

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