The Devil's Toenail Booktalk
Does the devil’s toenail really give Stevie special powers to face his deepest fear so he can become part of Daniel’s gang?
It wasn’t his secret anymore. Daniel knew. Daniel knew everything. That was why he told Steve to set the trashcan in the library on fire. Daniel was cool, and Steve wanted to be in his gang, but you had to pass a test to get in. And somehow Daniel knew that Steve didn’t like fire. Knew he couldn’t set anything on fire. Knew he couldn’t pass the test. “Go on,” said Daniel, “Do it now. The library’s still open.” He took out his gold lighter and started to toss it to Steve.
Steve panicked. “I can’t,” he said. “I’ve got to go. My family’s going on vacation. I’ll do it when I get back.” It wasn’t much of a vacation, just a camping trip to the beach. But Steve liked the beach – there weren’t many people, just seaweed, jumbles of stones to climb, and patches of sand. But if you looked closely, there were things to find – like the stone Steve just happened to look at before seeing how far he could throw it into the ocean. And instantly he knew what he was. He’d seen one in a museum once and the name had stuck in his head – it was a devil’s toenail, an ancient fossil of a shellfish. But it didn’t really feel like an ordinary rock. It felt warmer than the other rocks he’d picked up, and when he held it in his hand for a while, it felt like it was fizzing, full of a dark power that made Steve feel strong, like he was ten feet tall. And with the devil’s toenail in his pocket, Steve knew he could do anything. Lift a knife from a shop and not get caught. Steal a Mercedes for a joy ride, maybe even set fire to a wastebasket.
What was the stone’s power over Steve? Did it really want to change him? Control him? Would he finally be cool and stylish like Daniel, or would something far more sinister happen? Let Steve tell you his story and his secrets, about himself and the devil’s toenail.