Thursday, January 29, 2009

What-the-Dickens: the story of a rogue tooth fairy

by Gregory Maguire

This guy has made quite the career out of re-telling traditional fairy tales and such from new perspectives:
  • Wicked is The Wizard of Oz told from the point of view of the Wicked Witch of the West (it has a sequel, Son of a Witch — arguably better than its parent book — and it has been made into a critically-acclaimed musical, currently touring the nation, which itself spawned a reality TV spin-off);

  • Mirror Mirror is an Italian Renaissance-and-incest version of the story of Snow White;

  • Lost, which I never got around to reading, takes a new look at Ebenezer Scrooge;

  • just out in 2008, A Lion Among Men revisits Dorothy's cowardly pal from Oz;

  • and my favorite, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (you should be catching on by now; need I explain?), was made into a Lifetime television movie starring Stockard Channing. (Yes, I worship her; no, she is not the reason this book is my favorite of Maguire's.)
He's also written many books for younger readers, and What-the-Dickens is one of the longer ones. It's the story of a tooth fairy (more of a pixie or sprite, actually, with more of an animal nature than your typical Disney-style flowery fairy) struggling to grow up and discover himself outside the society of other tooth fairies — sort of a fish-out-of-water or raised-by-wolves kinda thing — and eventually challenging the traditions and strictures of what turns out to be a rather oppressive tooth fairy community.

The story of this rogue tooth fairy is told within another story: the tale is being told by a young man to his younger neice and nephew, whom he's left with during an unspecified and possibly apocalyptic storm or catastrophe while the children's parents have gone in search of food and help. This wrap-around story was kind of unnecessary, but not really bothersome. I think the author explained the reason for it in an interview on Fresh Air, but I don't recall what he said. If i were going to read this book aloud to kids, I'd probably just leave it out.
Good ratings overall, not awesome but very enjoyable. Should be appealing to fans of Artemis Fowl and the like.

No comments: