The Magic Finger

The Magic Finger
1st edition (publ. Allen & Unwin)

The Magic Finger is a children's story published by Roald Dahl in 1966. Although the original edition had illustrations by William Pene du Bois, there have been later editions of the book with illustrations by Pat Mariott, Tony Ross, and Quentin Blake.


The story is about the Gregg family that hunts ducks for fun and is narrated by an unnamed eight-year-old girl who lives next door to them. The girl possesses a power to punish people who make her cross called "the magic finger" but she has no control over what it does or when it happens.

Although they are her friends, the girl becomes annoyed at the Greggs shooting and killing ducks and thus she points the magic finger at them. The next day the Greggs wake up as tiny people with wings instead of arms and their house is taken over by four human-size ducks with arms instead of wings. The Greggs are forced to leave and build a nest in one of the trees in their garden where they spend the night. The next morning they wake up to find the large ducks with the Greggs' guns standing under their tree, threatening to shoot in the same way that they have shot ducks. The Greggs promise never to hunt again and are changed back into normal humans.

The next day, the girl goes to their house and finds the family smashing up their guns and setting up graves for the birds that they killed. They have even changed their name to "Egg"! The girl feels that things may have gotten a little out of hand but then hears a gun fired by another neighbouring family, the Coopers. She thus sets off, telling the Greggs that the Coopers will be nesting in the trees that night.

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