by Roald Dahl
illustrator Quentin Blake
London: Puffin, 1964
Age: 4 +
Interests: animal welfare, birds, magic
A very slight volume and a good introduction into the sharp and twisted world of Roald Dahl!
A little girl is upset that the two boys next door and their father love to hunt. She does her best to talk them out of it, but they just make fun of her and won’t listen. Unfortunately for them, she has a Magic Finger, which she points at them, resulting in a strange transformation. The whole family of four shrinks and grow wings, and are turfed out of their home by four ducks grown to human size. After a cold night in a nest they find themselves surrounded by the ducks with shotguns. Promising never to hunt again, the family is turned back into themselves. They jubilantly destroy their guns and devote themselves to feeding the birds.
Obviously a strenuous animal welfare tract, but presented with great humour and with a child’s sense of justice. The details of the change of circumstance are very funny. And I particularly like that the girl’s magic finger is never explained. She just has it, and that’s all.