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

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  5,295 ratings  ·  719 reviews
From the author of the best-selling WICKED, a transporting tale-within-a-tale about the strange world of skibbereen — aka tooth fairies — and the universal need to believe.

A terrible storm is raging, and ten-year-old 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 hat
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Paperback, 295 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Candlewick Press (first published September 11th 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chris
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 wond
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Kristen
Although this book was marked as J Fiction at my library, it would definitely not be understood unless by a high level reader. The author doesn't seem to dumb down his story at all for children, but it still has that young adult feel to it. It was an interesting read, even if it left me wanting at the end. Beautifully written and a great tale, I recommend it for lovers of fantasy.
Olivia

Merged review:
This book made me want to unlearn how to read, which is a lot harder than it sounds. I almost didn't finish it, and now kind of wish I didn't. The story is very mundane, as is the dialogue, but never ending! The characters are hokie and contrived. Blah...blah...etc.
Stuart
Hands down the most delightful book that Maguire has written in years, this book is a quick read (a fast reader might pull it off in a day- I took two) and a fun little piece of fantasy, somewhere on the border between young adult fiction and regular old adult fantasy. It's more original than most of Maguire's other books- the story is based on the Tooth Fairy legend, but has no real literary pre-text. In its best moments it recalls such young adult classics as THE RATS OF NIHM and THE PHANTOM T ...more
Nicole Romine
Well, this novel was not at all what I expected it to be. After reading some of Maguire's work, including "Wicked," I expected a grim retelling of the tooth fairy myth. "What-the-Dickens," however, is not dark at all. It's actually a story full of hope about the power of belief and imagination. Although, Maguire does get a bit preachy at times, especially about "annoying adults" who sully the world. Still, the reframing of the tooth fairy story was clever and fun. This novel definitely had a you ...more
Angie
I almost gave this four stars. The first part of the story of a tooth fairy named What-the-Dickens is utterly charming. His ignorance, his misplaced love for a cat who would as soon eat him as anything, his meeting with a crotchety old woman and his overwhelming desire for her set of false teeth---all delightful. The beginning is witty and fun to read aloud; I read this beginning section to Bennett, who laughed several times. If the book would have kept me relishing it as I did in the beginning, ...more
Mary Beth
Originally posted on bibliophyte: http://bibliophyte.blogspot.com/2012/...

This is a difficult book to review. I adore What-the-Dickens and Pepper, and much of his/their story is extremely charming and sweet. The narrative about Dinah and her siblings and Gage, however, was simply hard to get into and doesn't make a lot of sense. It also takes up way too much of the book without any kind of satisfactory character or plot development or even a decent resolution. In addition, I'm rather disappointe
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Brandy
A pretty firm "eh" on this one. The basic story--an orphaned tooth fairy makes his way in the strange world--is fun enough, but the frame around it--a man telling a story to his young cousins while they're stranded during a hurricane--doesn't make a lot of sense around it. The two bits of story don't weave together smoothly, and the book as a whole doesn't gel.

And it's written by Gregory Maguire, with his usual love affair with adjectives. I'm all for description, but when the sheer volume of ad
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Camille
From the back of the book: From the darkest night, amidst a terrifying storm, Dinah's parents go missing. With supplies dwindling and worry growing, Dinah and her brother and sister listen to their cousin Gage tell them an unlikely story - about tooth fairies, known as skibbereen, who are living in warring colonies right in the neighborhood. Dinah is skeptical, but as the story unfolds and the storm rages, she begins to believe.

This story was adorable and witty. What-the-Dickens is the name of t
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Julia
Gregory Maguire has given us some magical novels in Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Mirror Mirror, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, so I was interested in seeing what he would do at the YA level, and I was not disappointed.

I found a review on Amazon that helps me explain this double-leveled story:

"The book follows two plotlines: in the first, three children and their older cousin are waiting out a hurricane while their parents are out seeking medical attention f
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Tracy
I was expecting some great twist or ah-ha at the end. But there was none. If I had kids, this would be perfect for them because it could fuel the tooth fairy myth. It took me a week to read the 300 page book. For my dear friends, you know I read the last book of Harry Potter--700+ pages--in less than 24 hours. I have read 900 page books in 2 (maybe 3) weeks if I take my time. :-) So, it was not a page turner. It was not bad . . . it just wasn't really good. I mean when you see on the cover "Rogu ...more
Erin Sterling
On a dark and stormy night, 10-year-old Dinah, her older brother Zeke, and baby sister Rebecca Ruth, are waiting for their parents to get back with only their older cousin Gage for company. To pass the time, Gage tells them a story about What-the-Dickens, an orphaned tooth fairy (or skibbereen, to use their true name) just trying to figure out his place in the world. What-the-Dickens has adventures with a cat, a bird, a tiger with a sore tooth, and an old woman who thinks he is the Angel of Deat ...more
Mike Moore

This is a charming little book, and I'm sure that there are a lot of people who will find it very enjoyable. I'm not the proper audience. I recognize that being the wrong person for a book is no reason to give said book a low rating, but I think that it's justified in this case. Let me explain why:

The dust jacket says that this book came from a writing assignment that Maguire gave to a class of middle-school kids, and the book reads like an assignment. There is exactly one idea (the premise). Th
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Jim Erekson
Maguire's writerly style was the strength of this book, and his interweaving of two stories, and the meta-awareness of narrative throughout the book.

My favorite theme is how he dealt with the perennial question of whether a story is true. I often have kids ask me if a story I'm telling is 'true' and I always answer, "All stories are true." Because whatever I am telling IS the story. Yes, I know that's not what they really mean. But the broader human desire to know whether a story is based on 'r
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Brandy
I suggested this book for the bookclub that I am in to share the joy of Gregory Maguire among my book loving friends. I certainly did not introduce them to the Maguire that I know.

When I went into this book, I expected the writing style to be the same of his other "popular books" such as that of the Wicked series. I have read all of his other books in regards to the re-imagining of storybook characters. I was extremely disappointed in the beginning.

After I truly entered the story of the rogue t
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Kit★
Picked this one up at a yard sale last summer for like, 25 cents, for this trade paperback in brand new condition. I grabbed it right away because ever since I read Wicked a few years ago (which, my hardback of that got ruined not long after I read it when an a/c above the shelf it and other books were sitting on started leaking water all over the place ) I've had Maguire's back-list on my wishlist. So when I saw this one I had to get it, no second thoughts. So it came time to pick what to read ...more
Tonya
What-the-Dickens is a story within a story. The story within was a fairy tale, and very nicely crafted. What-the-Dickens is a Skibberee, otherwise known as a tooth fairy. He is an orphan and hasn't learned his purpose in life until he meets Pepper, who brings him to her colony and shows him the ways of the Skibberren.

The fairy tale was original, quirky, and had some nice dialogue. What-the-Dickens was a lovable character.

On the other hand, the story that started the fairy tale I didn't care for
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Parisa
In WHAT THE DICKENS a terrible storm wipes out the power and everyone is told to evacuate their homes. One family decides not to evacuate. Just when the mother's insulin runs out, Gage (her cousin) shows up at the house and ends up taking care of the three children while the parents go out into the storm for medical supplies. During the storm, Gage tells the children a story of a rogue tooth fairy.

I'm not quite sure what I think of WHAT THE DICKENS just yet. The writing was good. The story was
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Fredd
I've read all three of Maguire's Oz books, and loved them. i've read some other reviews of this book, and generally folks who liked What-the-Dickens did NOT like Wicked or it's sequels.

The Oz books have decidedly darker themes: the nature of evil, the search for indentity, differing moralities. W-t-D is definitely more child-friendly, but it's theme (the universal need to believe) should appeal to everyone.

The book was a quick read (i finished 3/4 of it while in the waiting room for an appointme
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Val
I like dark books, so this was the book for me. It is the tale of a tooth fairy, but it is not what you would tell children: it takes place in a scary, cruel world that is darker than I expected.

The book follows two plotlines: in the first, three children and their older cousin are waiting out a hurricane while their parents are out seeking medical attention for their diabetic mother. With the terrible storm, the place has been evacuated, and the children are nearly out of food. To pass the tim
...more
Greg
I was thoroughly disappointed in this book. Maguire sets up many pieces to this book, then never goes back to explore them. For example, the parents (who we never see) are strict Christians who hide their children away from society, but this is never developed or explained, which left me thinking, "So what?". There are several reference to the children being kept from the world, so obviously Maguire thought it was important, but it adds absolutely nothing to the story.

The tooth fairy story (whi
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Allanna
Read about half ... couldn't finish it. I might try again later.

Two stories going on - First, four kids left alone during a storm. The eldest, the cousin, tells a story (the second, main, plot) to distract them from being alone and without food until they can be rescued.

You'd think that a story-within-a-story plot would keep me rivited (like how People of the Book was intertwined and passionately refused to be put down) ... Not so much with this one.

If you're reading Maguire, I'd go with his sho
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Marissa
I enjoyed the first half more than the second half, but it was a cute little story all the same.
Fiona
Gregory Maguire, who seems to have a firm grip in the now growing field of reimagination of fairy-tales, reimagines the myth of tooth fairies (known as skibbereens) in this novel which jumps from a dark and stormy night, to a coming-of-age tale of What-the-Dickens as told by Gage. The Ormsby children (Dinah, her older brother Zeke, baby Rebecca Ruth) are stuck in their house with a raging storm, while their parents are out attending to a medical emergency. They are babysitted by a distant cousin ...more
Tiakall
You may not know Gregory Maguire by name, but you probably know something he wrote: namely, Wicked. Maguire has done a number of books based in the realm of fairy tales mixed with a shot of the dark and not always happy-endings. What-the-Dickens is a book that mixes the stark reality of the modern world with the hidden world of the fairy tale.

What-the-Dickens is a story that starts with three kids and their older cousin trapped during a stormy night. To pass the time, their cousin tells a story
...more
Zaira
This book was good for about the first two thirds of the book, then... Not so much. It really is just a children's book, and I'm sure many, many, many kids will adore it, but I just couldn't get into it, unfortunately.

Dinah, her brother Zeke, and baby sister Rebecca Ruth are stuck at home because of a big storm with their adult cousin Gage. The only thing that keeps them together is a story. This story is about a tooth fairy or skibereen, as Maguire calls them, who is an orphan and is trying to
...more
Andrea
This is a good rewriting of the tooth fairy story. It is more believable than the one my parents told. Maguire, really take on fairytale, myth, folklore. I have not read other Maguire books but am looking forward to the rest. I think this would be a great story to read to 3rd-6th grade children aloud. Children and adults 7th grade and up would like this easy, comfortble read.
Kathryn
I grabbed this book off the young adult shelf at Half Price Books. I didn't pay much attention to who the author was, I just knew the story on the back cover sounded good and the covers themselves were pretty cool. Halfway through I was amazed at how good the book was! I looked to see the author and my first thought was, "Gregory Maguire? No wonder I think it's awesome, he's awesome!" This book very much did not disappoint. The story is very unique and unlike anything I've ever read. Three child ...more
Eva
My 6-year-old was given this book as a read-aloud, which I duly read aloud to her. We were both captivated by the story, but almost despite Maguire, rather than because of him. The strict religious family and catastrophic disaster of the framing story was too sophisticated for her, and a bit distracting to me, especially since it didn't end up leading anywhere at the end in a way that justified the oddness of the situation. The fairy story of the skibbereen was more delighting, but the undercurr ...more
Rocio Pritchett
Ooh! Normally, Gregory Maguire tells fairy tales to adult in a new way. This is the first kid-friendly book I've read by him. I do love faeries in that I love the lore. This was highly enjoyable tale, although the ending was a bit wonky. I'd listen to him around a campfire anytime.
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Gregory Maguire is an American author, whose novels are revisionist retellings of children's stories (such as L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into Wicked). He received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children' ...more
More about Gregory Maguire...
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1) Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister Son of a Witch (The Wicked Years #2) Mirror Mirror A Lion Among Men (The Wicked Years, #3)

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“quoting reminds me there are other people in the world besides only me. And other thoughts besides mine, and other ways of thinking.” 21 likes
“So she listened hard. And she began to evolve, because stories work their magic that way. They build conviction and erode conviction in equal measure.” 11 likes
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