The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
Interest Level
Grades K – 2
Reading Level
Grade level Equivalent: 3.5

A girl (who is not named by the author) hates hunting. The Greggs next door love to hunt. They try to shoot and kill as many ducks as they can. This makes the girl very angry. When she gets angry, a bolt of energy shoots out of her finger, changing the person. For the hunters, they became ducks until they were repentant of hunting and changed their ways. In the meantime, the Greggs spent the night in a nest while the ducks were in the Greggs’ house. In the morning the ducks were pointing guns at the Greggs. “Oh please,” cried Mrs. Gregg, “My two little children are up here with us! You wouldn’t shoot my children!” “Yesterday, you shot my children,” said the duck. “You shot all six of my children.”

I am enjoying reading Roald Dahl because he had such a range of children’s books. The Magic Finger may be on the younger range of tweens, maybe older juvenile, but it would disturb kids sensitive to hunting and killing animals for sport. It would open up a conversation about eating meat with your kids. A discussion could be had on the difference between killing for food and killing for fun. Dahl equates people with animals in this book. Is that a fair comparison, we can ask. We can discuss what animals are bred for. Is it fair to allow animals to grow beyond their ability to support themselves? We are in 4H. We learned that meat hens only should live about 6-8 weeks. Keeping the animals alive beyond what they are bred for is cruel. They can no longer support their weight and become too tough to eat. They end up having miserable lives.

Dahl, R., & Blake, Q. (1998). The magic finger. New York, N.Y.: Puffin Books.