________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 20 . . . . June 9, 2000

cover The Toothpaste Genie.

Sandy Frances Duncan.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada Inc., 1981.
134 pp., pbk., $5.99.
ISBN 1-55268-579-9.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.
Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4


A small bubble burped out as if air had been in the tube. The toothpaste was purple too. IT seemed to be stuck. She squeezed harder. There was a pop, then the bubble started growing and growing and GROWING. Amanda nearly dropped the tube. No skinny snake of toothpaste emerged, just a big purple bubble that grew bigger and bigger, slowly and evenly on all sides. It was now half her size.

Amanda stared at the pale purple bubble. Inside it was a darker purple thing. It was fuzzy at first, but as Amanda watched, its shape became clearer. He (for it seemed to be a he) was fat and had a round head and round, heavy cheeks, a very small nose and short green hair. He sat cross-legged in the middle of his bubble smoking a curved purple pipe. He was wearing a red loincloth that looked to Amanda like a king-size diaper.

Slowly he took the pipe from his mouth and his face fell into a sulky pout. "A kid! A little kid! I expected someone more important, even if it is my first job!"

When Amanda finds the genie in her weird tube of toothpaste, she thinks her troubles are over. Finally the horse and the baby sister she's always wanted will be hers. However, she soon finds out that things are not that straightforward as even her simplest wishes have a way of going awry. Every time she asks the genie for a wish, somehow she ends up in trouble. It doesn't help that her genie is an apprentice trying to graduate and not happy about having a little kid for a master. Add to this the hilarity as Amanda tries to keep her parents from getting suspicious as horses appear in her bedroom and babies on the doorstep, and you've got a fun story of one kid's fantasy gone wrong.

First published in 1981, Sandy Frances Duncan's novel has an appealing main character, good characterization and just the right comic tone to make it a hit with kids. Who hasn't dreamed of having their every wish granted? Duncan's story is a comic twist on the "be careful what you wish for" credo.

A good choice for young readers or as a family or class read aloud selection.


Liz Greenaway is a former bookseller living in Edmonton, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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