Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy” as Want to Read:
What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  6,525 Ratings  ·  838 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
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 11th 2007 by Candlewick Press
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about What-the-Dickens, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Apr 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own
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
Jan 09, 2009 rated it did not like it

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.
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youngadult
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.
May 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
How can you not like a title that has the word, "Dickens" in it? How can you not like a book about tooth fairies? How can you...

Okay, I didn't like it. Just as I was pulled in and disappointed by Maguire's previous work, I found this book rather boring, which, given the "Dickens" and the Tooth Fairies, should not be.

The story unfolds as a story within a story. While waiting out some kind of bad weather situation (which should have led to something else, but not), we get the story about the Tooth
Mary Beth Phelps
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 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 disappointed in Mr. Maguire because it would seem that he modeled the children after ...more
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm a huge fan. Love this author's imagination and the wild rides he takes me on.
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
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
Mar 01, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Oct 02, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Kat Grace
Nov 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Hey, at least it got me hooked at the time. Considering re-reading it though, since I was younger when I did.
Joseph Gagnon


Hrm. This is an interesting start to an odd story. I love the feel of this intro ... and I am very interested to heard the kind of story Gage tells to his two super-religious cousins. The mother and father are off ... somewhere. I'm not exactly sure what is going on in the world of the story. I assume that is something that will be revealed to us over time. I assume Gage's story will have something to do with explaining it as well, but probably in a fictional, magical sort of way that go
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.50 Stars

I don't know how to review this book. The entire time I was reading this book I was thinking, as I was loving it, that it was a four star book. Then I get to the ending...wait...that was no ending! It was like watching a TV show and seeing To Be Continued at the end of the show then finding out your show was cancelled. Yeah that's how I feel.


I'm so disappointed.

I suppose I'll just have to make up my own ending. Grrr Argh.
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I listened to this book on CD. It got my attention in the beginning, but I have to say by the end I was a little bored. I also did wished Maguire would have wrapped the story up better by telling us more about the children's mother and father coming back. Overall it was a bit forgettable. I did enjoy the literary references throughout the book, and the quote:

"You lie, cheat and steal and call it courtesy, cunning and thrift."
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Mike Moore
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok

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
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jim Erekson
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel, dark
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
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens, fantasy
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
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
Jul 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 05, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Mar 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, childrens
This is the story of a rogue tooth fairy. I wouldn't really consider him a rogue - just an individual who was never exposed to how he "should" be. When I think of the word rogue it makes me think that they are purposefully going against what everyone thinks is "right" or the "way to do things". This little guy however, never knew how to do things so he just found his own way.

I teeter back and forth on this one thinking its a 3 star or a 4 star. So I will say its 3.5. I did enjoy it - but I felt
Mar 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book wasn't what I expected from the author Gregory Maguire. His other books (Wicked) were much better with more developed characters. The story is based on the fairytale of The Tooth Fairy. It centers on three young children who are left alone at home during a hurricane/mudslide. Their older cousin is watching them and to distract them, he tells them a story about the Tooth Fairy. The tooth fairy part is somewhat interesting though it's drawn out. My biggest complaint is that you never rea ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Various (Touchstone Trilogy, #1)
  • The Mystery in the Cave (The Boxcar Children, #50)
  • Clemency Pogue: Fairy Killer (Clemency Pogue #1)
  • The Cold Moons
  • Tastes Like Chicken (Fat Vampire, #2)
  • The Wolf Tree (The Clockwork Dark, #2)
  • Tales of Terror from the Black Ship (Tales of Terror, #2)
  • The Worst Witch at School (Worst Witch, #1-2)
  • The Hour of the Cobra (Time-Travel Series, #2)
  • Chaplin: A Life
  • Hugo Pepper (Far-Flung Adventures, #3)
  • Curses! A F**ked Up Fairytale (F***ed-Up Fairy Tale #1)
  • Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur
  • You Wish (The Misadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew Piff, #1)
  • The Folk Keeper
  • That Girl Lucy Moon
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

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Gold-Son
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Trail of Dead (Scarlett Bernard, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Regulars
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Childhood's End
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Mirror
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1)
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Voyage to Magical North (The Accidental Pirates)
    $5.67 $2.99
  • Raven's Peak (World on Fire, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Swords and Deviltry (Lankhmar, 1)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Rebel Wing (Rebel Wing #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Garden of Stones (Echoes of Empire, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Dracula [Kindle in Motion]
    $1.99 $0.99
  • The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Thickety: A Path Begins
    $6.24 $1.99
  • Stinger
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Lost Voices
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Extracted (Extracted Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Dragon Haven (Rain Wild Chronicles, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Isle of Blood and Stone
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Spirit Hunters
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Haven (War of the Princes, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Immortal Circus (Cirque des Immortels, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Brilliance (Brilliance Saga, #1)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Immortal Circus: Act Two (Cirque des Immortels, #2)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Better World (Brilliance Saga, #2)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • Written in Fire (Brilliance Saga, #3)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Immortal Circus: Final Act (Cirque des Immortels, #3)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Secret of the Sirens (The Companions Quartet, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Siren
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Dorothy Must Die (Dorothy Must Die #1)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Ocean of Storms
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Sword of Shannara Trilogy (Shannara, #1-3)
    $19.99 $2.99
  • Artful
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Chains of Command (Frontlines, #4)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Angles of Attack (Frontlines, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Lines of Departure (Frontlines, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga #2)
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Into the Dim
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Kull: Exile of Atlantis
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Fury (Blur Trilogy #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Gears of War  Aspho Fields
    $11.99 $1.99
  • City
    $7.99 $1.99
  • You Suck (A Love Story, #2)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Chocolate Touch
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Storm (Elemental, #1)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • A Perfect Blood (The Hollows, #10)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Mama Day
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Dreamfall (Dreamfall #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Imitation (Clone Chronicles #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Infinite
    $5.99 $2.49
  • Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Mermaid's Sister
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Space Between Heartbeats (Betwixt #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Boundary Crossed (Boundary Magic, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Boundary Born (Boundary Magic, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Kissed by Darkness (Sunwalker Saga, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Dragon Marked (Supernatural Prison, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Blood Kissed (Lizzie Grace, #1)
    $3.99 $1.49
  • A Glimmer of Hope (The Avalon Chronicles #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Celia and the Fairies
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Best Served Cold (First Law World, #4)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Valor (The Faithful and the Fallen, #2)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Last One
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Genesis
    $11.99 $1.99
  • To Honor You Call Us (Man of War, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Hunter's Trail (Scarlett Bernard, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Abyss Beyond Dreams (Commonwealth: Chronicle of the Fallers, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Wool: The Graphic Novel
    $7.99 $2.99
  • And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Ticker
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard (Barsk, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Concealed (Lakewood, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
“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.” 14 likes
More quotes…