Book Review of The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl

What My Kids Read reviews The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl The Magic Finger is a really short, easy book. Seriously, our copy is 63 pages long and has illustrations on almost every page (and the book doesn’t start until page 7). Liam loves Roald Dahl’s books, and he thinks this one is hilarious, but the topic can be pretty weighty. As you can tell from the title, there is magic in this book, so parents who are cautious about that can click here to jump to my ratings on that.

The message of this book is that there is more than one point of view in any situation. It also has a very strong anti-hunting message that really needs to be talked about with your children.

My Mom-Meter gives The Magic Finger an overall safety rating of 1 (Safe) for ages 6 and up.

Click here to skip to a Plot summary

Click here to skip straight to Potential Discussion Points

Category ratings (click on the category to see specifics):

Alcohol/DrugsSafe - no actual four-letter words

BullyingModerately Safe - mentioned, but not glorified

Disrespectful AttitudesSafe - no actual four-letter words

Gambling:Safe - no actual four-letter words

Gross BehaviorSafe - not much gross behavior

LanguageSafe - no actual four-letter words

Magic/SupernaturalModerately Safe - mentioned, but not glorified

Romance/SexSafe - no actual four-letter words

Scary ThemesModerately Safe - mentioned, but not glorified

ViolenceModerately Safe - mentioned, but not glorified

Plot summary of The Magic Finger: ***Contains Spoilers***

Wikipedia has a plot summary here.

Potential Discussion Points for Parents in The Magic Finger:

  • The girl telling this story says “It doesn’t seem right to me that men and boys should kill animals just for the fun they get out of it.” Do you agree with the girl? Is it always wrong to kill?
  • Once the ducks can shoot, they aim the guns at the Greggs (who were turned into tiny humans with wings). Mr. Gregg begs the ducks not to shoot them, and one of the ducks asks “Why not? You are always shooting at us?” Mr. Greg answers: “Oh, but that’s not the same! We are allowed to shoot ducks!” The duck asks, “Who allows you?” Mr. Greg answers “We allow each other.” As Mr. Greg begs the ducks not to shoot his children, the duck points out that Mr. Greg shot 6 of the duck’s children the day before. Why are humans “allowed” to shoot animals? Were the Greggs being good stewards,  taking care of the earth? What is the difference between a human shooting a duck and a duck shooting a human?

Alcohol/Drugs: None

Bullying:

  • A teacher tells the girl that she is stupid because she misspelled the word “cat.”

Disrespectful Attitudes: 

  • The girl with the Magic Finger gets mad at her teacher for calling her stupid and accidentally turns her teacher into a cat.

Gambling: None

Gross Behavior:

  • The Gregg family (while turned into human birds), contemplate having to eat worms or slugs. Mrs. Gregg says she can mince them up and make slugburgers and wormburgers.

Language:

  • A teacher says “You are a stupid little girl!” The girl responds “I am not a stupid little girl!”
  • “Beastly” is said once.
  • Definitions:
    “Queer” is used once, as in strange.
    “Dotty” is used once, as in crazy.”

Magic/Supernatural:

  • “The Magic Finger is something I have been able to do my whole life. I can’t tell you just how I do it, because I don’t even know myself. But it always happens when I get cross, when I see red… Then I get very, very hot all over… then the tip of the  forefinger of my right hand begins to tingle most terribly… And suddenly a sort of flash comes out of me, a quick flash, like something electric. It jumps out and touches the person who made me cross.”
  • The Magic Finger turns a teacher into a cat.
  • After the girl puts the Magic Finger on the entire Gregg family, the Greggs wake up the next morning to find that they are very small, have wings, and can fly.
  • Mrs. Gregg says “This is witches’ work!”
  • Four large ducks, who are the size of humans and have arms, move into the Gregg’s house and hunt the Greggs when the Greggs are little human birds.

Romance/Sex: None

Scary Themes:

  • Four ducks follow Mr. Gregg and his sons. Mr. Gregg shoots at them, but cannot hit them. The ducks follow the Greggs home, and it seems creepy.
  • The ducks point guns at the Greggs preparing to shoot them.

Violence:

  • Mr. Gregg and his sons go hunting and shoot a lot.
  • The illustrations show shotguns being used for hunting.
  • The Greggs shoot 16 ducks. Later, they find out that they killed 6 of one duck’s children.
  • Mr. Gregg smashes up all his guns into tiny bits.
  • The Greggs make graves for all 16 ducks who were killed and Mrs. Gregg places flowers on the graves.

 

From a ten-year-old’s perspective: “I enjoyed The Magic Finger because it is very humorous while still keeping a serious message that there are two sides to every story. I think most kids would like this book because it’s unexpected and very funny.”


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The Magic Finger
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