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

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

by Gregory Maguire

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763643072
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 03/24/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 184,496
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Gregory Maguire is the author of more than a dozen novels for children as well as four adult novels, including WICKED: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST, which was made into a hit Broadway musical. He lives outside Boston, Massachusetts.

Hometown:

Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

June 9, 1954

Place of Birth:

Albany, New York

Education:

B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990

Read an Excerpt

~TWILIGHT~

BY EVENING, WHEN THE WINDS ROSE yet again, the power began to stutter at half-strength, and the sirens to fail. From those streetlights whose bulbs hadn’t been stoned, a tea-colored dusk settled in uncertain tides. It fell on the dirty militias of pack dogs, all bullying and foaming against one another, and on the palm fronds twitching in the storm gutter, and on the abandoned cars, and everything — everything — was flattened, equalized in the gloom of half-light. Like the subjects in a browning photograph in some antique photo album, only these times weren’t antique. They were now.

The air seemed both oily and dry. If you rubbed your fingers together, a miser imagining a coin, your fingers stuck slightly.

A fug of smoke lay on the slopes above the deserted freeway. It might have reminded neighbors of campfire hours, but there were few neighbors around to notice. Most of them had gotten out while they still could.

Dinah could feel that everything was different, without knowing how or why. She wasn’t old enough to add up this column of facts:
- power cuts
- the smell of wet earth: mudslide surgically opening the hills
- winds like Joshua’s army battering the walls of Jericho
- massed clouds with poisonous yellow edges
- the evacuation of the downslope neighbors, and the silence and come up with a grown-up summary, like one or more of the following:
- the collapse of local government and services
- the collapse of public confidence, too
- state of emergency
- end of the world
- business as usual, just a variety of usual not usually seen.
After all, Dinah was only ten.

Ten, and in some ways, a youngish ten, because her family lived remotely.

For one thing, they kept themselves apart — literally. The Ormsbys sequestered themselves in a scrappy bungalow perched at the uphill end of the canyon, where the unpaved county road petered out into ridge rubble and scrub pine.

The Ormsbys weren’t rural castaways nor survivalists — nothing like that. They were trying the experiment of living by gospel standards, and they hoped to be surer of their faith tomorrow than they’d been yesterday.

A decent task and, around here, a lonely one. The Ormsby family made its home a citadel against the alluring nearby world of the Internet, the malls, the cable networks, and other such temptations.

The Ormsby parents called these attractions slick. They sighed and worried: dangerous. They feared cunning snares and delusions. Dinah Ormsby wished she could study such matters close-up and decide for herself.

Dinah and her big brother, Zeke, were homeschooled. This, they were frequently reminded, kept them safe, made them strong, and preserved their goodness. Since most of the time they felt safe, strong, and good, they assumed the strategy was working.

But all kids possess a nervy ability to dismay their parents, and the kids of the Ormsby family were no exception. Dinah saw life as a series of miracles with a fervor that even her devout parents considered unseemly.

"No, Santa Claus has no website staffed by underground Nordic trolls. No, there is no flight school for the training of apprentice reindeer. No to Santa Claus, period," her mother always said. "Dinah, honey, don’t let your imagination run away with you." Exasperatedly: "Govern yourself!"

"Think things through," said her dad, ever the peacemaker. "Big heart, big faith: great. But make sure you have a big mind, too. Use the brain God gave you."

Dinah took no offense, and she did try to think things through. From the Ormsby’s bunker, high above the threat of contamination by modern life, she could still love the world. In a hundred ways, a new way every day. Even a crisis could prove thrilling as it unfolded:
- Where, for instance, had her secret downslope friends gone? Just imagining their adventures on the road — with their normal, middle-class families — made Dinah happy. Or curious, anyway.
- For another instance: Just now, around the corner of the house, here comes the newcomer, Gage. A distant cousin of Dinah’s mom. A few days ago he had arrived on the bus for a rare visit and, presto. When the problems began to multiply and the result was a disaster, Gage had been right there, ready to help out as an emergency babysitter. Talk about timely — it was downright providential. How could you deny it?

Therefore, Dinah concluded,
- A storm is as good a setting for a miracle as any.

Of course, it would have been a little more miraculous if Gage had proven to be handy in a disaster, but Dinah wasn’t inclined to second-guess the hand of God. She would take any blessing that came along. Even if decent cousin Gage was a bit — she tried to face it, to use her good mind with honesty — ineffectual.

Hopeless at fixing anything. Clumsy with a screwdriver. Skittish with a used diaper. ("As a weather forecaster," Zeke mumbled to Dinah, "Gage is all wet: where is the clear sky, the sunlight he’s been promising?")

Yes, Gage Tavenner was a tangle of recklessly minor talents. Who needed a mandolin player when the electric power wouldn’t come on anymore?

But he was all they had, now. An adequate miracle so far.

"Zeke," Gage called, "get down from that shed roof ! Are you insane? We want another medical crisis?"

"I was trying to see where the power line was down. . . ."

"And fry yourself in the process? Power is out all over the county. Up there, if the winds get much stronger, you’ll be flown to your next destination without the benefit of an airplane. Down. Now. . . . "

***************
WHAT-THE-DICKENS by Gregory Maguire. Copyright (c) 2007 by Gregory Maguire. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Customer Reviews

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What-The-Dickens 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 143 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seems as though Gregory Maguire hasn't had a really good read since Wicked. From the first page of this book it was a downhill slope of boring. I would definitely leave this book on the shelf. Nice cover work, though.
ladyhawke28 More than 1 year ago
When I first read the summary for this book and saw the cover it looked entertaining and interesting. It wasn't quite what I was hoping for though. I am not sure I liked the 2 stories going on with the stranded kids and then the actual story of the tooth fairy. Some of it came off as cheesy and I just couldn't enjoy or become attached to any of the characters. I have to say of the few books of Maguire's I've read, I still like Wicked the best.
JennGrrl More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book! It's the story of the tooth fairy...sort of... It's the story of A tooth fairy...a rogue tooth fairy. This is actually two stories in one. There is the story of a group of children trapped in a house after a huge storm, with no food or electricity, and there is the story they are telling about the rogue tooth fairy in order to forget about their situation. Greogry Maguire doesn't disappoint. I will say, keep going, it does get better as you get into the story. There are a few characters to remember at the beginning, so don't get discouraged. If you stick it out it'll be WELL worth it. I hope there's a second book because I really wanted more at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good book, but it took awhile to actually get into it. I love his other books. This one was kind of disappointing
hexidecimalhack More than 1 year ago
It's better to read in one sitting. If you liked how City of Ember read, you'll like this.
theokester More than 1 year ago
First, let me re-acknowledge that Maguire is not for everyone. This book continues that trend. The overall concept sounds fairly airy and fun but at its heart, it's a lot darker than you might imagine. There are two story threads going on throughout the novel and each one is very intriguing. The threads sometimes intertwine and even when they don't directly touch, you find yourself wondering about the balance between the two. The story arc of the fairy creatures is highly imaginative and really a lot of fun. The reader is placed directly alongside other characters in the novel who are "hearing" the fairy tale at the same time that we're reading it. This juxtaposition of character and reader truly helps bring the reader into the second story arc and relate to the turmoil going on. The second story arc, that of the children in the midst of a violent storm, is not entirely spelled out and leaves a lot to the reader's insight and imagination. I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel...the fact that Maguire trusts his readers to be smart enough to read between the line and to develop the characters and situations of the "real world" rather than rely on him to spell out every little detail. The themes of hope, imagination and a world spoiled by adult influence are all presented very well. But it never feels like Maguire is preaching to us or standing on a soap box condemning the adults and unimaginative pessimists of the world. Rather, he is exploring the hopes and dreams of children even within bleak circumstances. This isn't a fairy tale you should read when you're looking for a pick-me-up, but it's definitely something I'd recommend to those looking for a thought provoking story and entertaining writing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first saw this book, I wanted to read it desperately. I thought the cover looked good, and it seemed interesting at first, but when I borrowed it from my local library.... I read the first few chapters, and had to close it for good. In my opinion, it was very boring and not very well written. It seemed to be...dull. I thought it would've been better, but it wasnt. Sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings - I'm just writting my opinion down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book, with great characters and great images. The plot of the story, and the story in the story, are fenomenal. I loved this book. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a story of a babysitting cousin telling a story to his stranded charges. The told story of the rogue tooth fairy is very imaginative with great characters a real page turner. The external story of the stranded kids is a bit cheesy and predictable, and uses sterotyped characters. But, it's still a very good read and memorable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this wonderful farytail I would reccomend it to anyone
GracieVS More than 1 year ago
I love the way Mr. Maguire's mind works! This book was chock-full of unexpected (yet vaguely familiar) images and characters. I found myself thinking--more than once--"I thought so!" Full of energy and emotion, this is a delicious adventure into what might be going on right under your feet: challenging bigotry, forgiveness, hope, and life unresolved. I loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an avid Gregory Maguire reader...this stands up to all we've come to expect from him! Wonderful for children and adults alike - read it alone or with your children, you'll enjoy every word!
KLmesoftly on LibraryThing 28 days ago
This is probably the most original I've ever seen Maguire - hardly derivative at all, and quite clever. This fairy-tale twist on the concept of tooth faries is told within an also-engrossing frame story involving the classic "dark and stormy night" with an apocalyptic twist. The characters are endearing, the plot moves at a nice pace and balances the cute, childish elements with more adult moments and themes. For a non-Maguire fan, I quite enjoyed this one.
eheinlen on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I just couldn't get into this book even thought I found the story concept to be very intriguing. I didn't like the writing style and found the characters too difficult to like.
lawral on LibraryThing 28 days ago
Having read many of Maguire's books for adults, I was assuming this would be a twist on a story I knew, not that I really know any stories about the tooth fairy, and I thought it would be a dark one at that. Instead it is a light, whimsical tale that is completely new, just with names that I already knew. It's a nice break from all of the issue fiction and paranormal teenagers that I've been reading about lately, and I didn't even know that I needed a break. No heavy thinking involved. Just a really good story.
Prop2gether on LibraryThing 28 days ago
An orphan tooth fairy, an apprentice tooth fairy, small children, cats, birds, and a stormy night--lots of possibilities here, but maybe I just don't get Maguire's style. Wicked was a chore to read (and I'm a huge fan of the Oz books) once the storyline got past the girls' schooling. This tale-within-a-tale smirks at the reader, hinting at great lessons on life and duty and religion, and then stalls, along with the storm. If you're a fan of Maguire's work, you'll love this book. If you're not, well, I'd go to another fantasy writer.
Boobalack on LibraryThing 28 days ago
While I enjoyed this book, I am rather upset with Mr. Maguire. He said the garden fairies planted the teeth collected by the tooth fairies, and the teeth grew into wish candles. Then another bunch of fairies takes the candles and swaps them for others in various boxes of candles. Supposedly if you happen to wish on one of those candles and blow out the candles, your wish comes true. Mr. Maguire is either lying or is mistaken. I prefer to think that he is mistaken. Everyone knows that the fairies use the collected teeth to make dentures for little old fairies. It takes two human teeth -- one for the uppers and one for the lowers -- to make a set of teeth for an old fairy. The tiny teeth are carved out of the large teeth. Then they are placed on a frame similar to human dentures, only smaller. My goodness, what would the old fairies do without these dentures? Why, they wouldn't even be able to eat a good steak. Instead, their diet would consist of gruel and other soft foods that only needed swallowing, not chewing. I imagine that would get boring pretty quickly.Other than that, it is a pretty reliable source for the studying of tooth fairies, along with the other fairy-types who make the colony strong.I didn't realize the social structure of fairy, ant and bee colonies was so similar. A day when one learns something new is not wasted.
tundra on LibraryThing 28 days ago
This is a fun story, something good for children too. I didn't like it near as much as Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (which led me to seek out another Maguire book), but liked it much more than Wicked.
jedimarri on LibraryThing 28 days ago
"What the Dickens" is an imaginative story about a rogue tooth fairy named, strangely enough, What the Dickens. It's unusual, but believe it or not, it does make sense when you read the book! I'll let you find out why for yourself. Gage, a young man, is the one who tells us about What the Dickens. Gage is taking care of his three younger cousins during a hurricane. He had been visiting when the storm took out the power, and the children's mother needed that power to keep her insulin fresh. So the children's parents take off to find medical help, and Gage stays behind to protect the kids.The situation for Gage and the kids is pretty bad, and to take their mind off of it, he tells them the story of What the Dickens. Is it a true story? The children never really can figure that out, but it's definitely a captivating story! Have you ever wondered how one single tooth fairy manages to collect all those teeth? Well the answer is that it's not one single tooth fairy, there are whole colonies of them! And when one is born away from the colonies, he finds himself with no identity, and no way of learning who is is. Eventually, though, he begins to learn about the world, and he meets another tooth fairy. That takes him on a wild adventure where he meets Gage, life and limb is in peril, and there is lots to be learned!
Alera on LibraryThing 28 days ago
On a stormy night, three children are left alone with their older cousin, scared and hungry. Trying to make the best of a horrible situation and in order to alleviate the fears of the children, and possibly his own, the older cousin, Gage, begins telling a story about a rogue tooth fairy, What-the-Dickens. Unlike what one might possibly expect, the story is light and happy. A tale of a human intermingling with and influencing a mythical creature and world he did not even know existed. The novel as a whole is a wonderful book reminding all of us that imagination is something to be treasured, and sometimes a little faith and belief and hope are the best things to get one through.
kaelirenee on LibraryThing 28 days ago
It was a dark and stormy night...Mom and Dad are missing, leaving Dinah, Zeke, and Rebecca Ruth in the care of their older English teacher cousin. He helps pass away the time by telling them of his encounters with one poor orphaned tooth fairy.This very clever take on what happens when myth meets reality is challenging enough for young but advanced readers and fantastical enough for just about any age.A fun aside...I had just put my book down when my son came to me to show me his very first lost tooth, or rather, it's gap. He lost his tooth at school. I told him to write a letter to the Tooth Fairy, the entire time thinking 'I know Pepper and What the Dickens wouldn't accept a note in place of an actual tooth.' Maguire's story telling is that good.
jcsoblonde on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I oculdn't even finish this book, and thats saying a lot. It had no real point in the story...it was the bad kind of weird, not the nice kind of weird that makes you keep reading. Very boring. Don't waste your time like I did...
Joles on LibraryThing 28 days ago
While thought provoking and typical of Gregory Maguire's writing style I loved the story in the book. I could have done without the outside circumstances that led to the story being told. I missed the purpose of the setting in a hurricane striken suburb.
jfslone on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I have always enjoyed Maguire's work, and I liked the premise of this story. What-the-Dickens is a memorable character and his story is typical Maguire, full of fantasy and many points which make you smirk to yourself when you realize the complicated nature of so many simple things. I think the subplot of the hurricane is a bit contrived, and maybe it would have served the book well if it had been eliminated. I think it contributed to some predictability which I rarely find in this author's books. Of course, one should keep in mind that this is more a story for children than anything else. As a fiction book for the younger set, I think it hits its mark.
theokester on LibraryThing 28 days ago
I finished reading this book a couple of weeks ago and I'm still thinking about it...which is usually a good sign.First, let me reacknowledge that Maguire is not for everyone. This book continues that trend.The overall concept sounds fairly airy and fun but at its heart, it's a lot darker than you might imagine.There are two story threads going on throughout the novel and each one is very intriguing. The threads sometimes intertwine and even when they don't directly touch, you find yourself wondering about the balance between the two.The story arc of the fairy creatures is highly imaginative and really a lot of fun. The reader is placed directly alongside other characters in the novel who are "hearing" the fairy tale at the same time that we're reading it. This juxtaposition of character and reader truly helps bring the reader into the second story arc and relate to the turmoil going on.The second story arc, that of the children in the midst of a violent storm, is not entirely spelled out and leaves a lot to the reader's insight and imagination. I really enjoyed this aspect of the novel...the fact that Maguire trusts his readers to be smart enough to read between the line and to develop the characters and situations of the "real world" rather than rely on him to spell out every little detail.The themes of hope, imagination and a world spoiled by adult influence are all presented very well. But it never feels like Maguire is preaching to us or standing on a soap box condemning the adults and unimaginative pessimists of the world. Rather, he is exploring the hopes and dreams of children even within bleak circumstances.This isn't a fairy tale you should read when you're looking for a pick-me-up, but it's definitely something I'd recommend to those looking for a thought provoking story and entertaining writing.