by: Gregory Maguire
295 pages [Hardcover]
Trapped amidst a natural disaster, with three kids to look after, Gage tells them a story about What-the-Dickens, a skiberee that doesn’t know he’s a tooth fairy, or very much at all really.
This is an odd little story, not quite for children, but not quite not for children either. It’s difficult to categorize. I would have labeled it a children’s story, but there is a lot in here that would go over their heads.
It’s basically a story within a story. The children of a sheltered religious family are waiting out a hurricane while watched by their twenty-something cousin. He has his hands full, they’re out of food, and the children’s parents have yet to return, so he tells the children a story about What-the-Dickens, the rogue tooth fairy.
I found the story within the story to be the most interesting, but I think that was the point. What-the-Dickens himself is rather charming as he discovers the world, not knowing anything. His attempts to understand his surroundings are fun to watch. You get to be a part of his thought process, as erroneous as it might be.
I was a little put off by the other skiberee when they were finally revealed. They are very simple, close-minded little creatures that follow dogma and propaganda rather than thinking for themselves. They dismiss What-the-Dickens as stupid or slow, when he thinks, reasons, and questions things. I feel like the author might have been making a bit of a statement here through What-the-Dickens’ eyes.
In short, I liked the story, but I was disappointed with the other skiberee, as What-the-Dickens no doubt was also. Still, it’s a cute little book that will look nice on my shelf so I think I’ll hold on to it for a while. Until next time…