When the girl in this story gets cross, strange things start happening. Above all, she can't bear it when people are cruel to animals. So when her neighbours the Greggs go shooting, her magic finger teaches them a lesson they'll never forget...
Roald Dahl began work on The Almost Ducks, as The Magic Finger was originally known, in 1962. In the story, an unnamed eight-year-old girl tells the story of her neighbours, the Gregg family. The Greggs like to hunt, but the girl can't stand to see animals killed just for fun. Her sense of injustice makes her angry and through her anger she develops a special power - not dissimilar to Matilda Wormwood, another of Roald's young female protagonists.
The Almost Ducks was part of a project in which a group of adult writers were each asked to create a story about "all the brave deer hunters and duck hunters in the country," as Roald described to his publishers. Roald was very much against animal cruelty and his story reflects this, as the girl turns the tables on the Greggs and their love of hunting.
After Roald had finished his publishers, wary of offending the powerful US gun lobby, sat on the manuscript until their option to publish had expired. It was a further three years before the story - which Roald dedicated to two of his daughters, Ophelia and Lucy - was eventually published by Harper & Row in 1966 as The Magic Finger.
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