This is a strange and short little morality tale for children.
The story follows an eight-year-old girl and the Gregg family on the farm next door. Mr Gregg and his sons love to hunt with guns. This infuriates the girl. Her rage causes her to put the ‘Magic Finger’ on them. She loses control and curses people with a bolt of magic that shoots from her finger.
Her frustration grew when the Greggs refused to listen to her pleas to cease hunting.
The following day, they awake to find they’ve shrunk to the size of birds and have ducks’ wings in place of arms. Furthermore, a family of ducks has grown man-sized and have human arms in place of wings and they take over the Greggs’ home!
How will the Greggs fare when forced to build a nest and find food?! Or when the ducks shoot at them?!
The message of the book is anti-blood sports and about not acting without thinking. The girl regrets her past actions regarding her gift, but as the story progresses we see her learn to gain control. This is Roald Dahl at his creative, zany best, teaching children to use what upsets them to engage their imagination before acting.
The tale demonstrates the need for empathy. The Greggs learn, not only how the ducks feel at being shot at, but also what their lives entail daily, trying to survive. It teaches children to fully consider others before acting carelessly or cruelly against them.
This little book has the perfect blend of humour, imagination, and moral guidance. It is also short and fairly easy to read which can offer reluctant or struggling young readers plenty of confidence when they can finish it.