Uncle Dobbin, aka Timothy James Dobbin or T. J. Dobbin — Pet shop owner 

Books and Stories this Character Appears In Edit

Defining Description or Bio Edit

Uncle Dobbin is a character in “Uncle Dobbin’s Parrot Fair” which was the last story in Christy Riddell's book—"How to Make the Wind Blow"


T. J. Dobbin was a retired sailor with an interest in nineteenth-century poets. Everybody called him Uncle Dobbin.

The Pet Shop Edit

“Uncle Dobbin’s Parrot Fair” was the name of the pet shop that Timothy James Dobbin owned in Santa Ana. It was gathering place for everykind of bird, tame as well as wild. There were finches in cages and parrots with the run of the shop, not to mention everything from sparrows to crows and gulls crowding around outside.

Personality and CharacterEdit

crochety yet pleasant and wise

Physical DecriptionEdit

an oldbearded tar with grizzled red hair and beetling brows who wore baggy blue cotton trousers and a whiteT-shirt as he worked in his store, cleaning the bird cages, feeding the parakeets, teaching the parrots words.


He cares for beings that are personifications—in bird form—of the magic that lives inside people. When they don't believe, Uncle Dobbins frees them from the person until they earn it's (magic) trust by learning to believe again.

Employment/Occupation Edit

Pet shop owner

Residence Location Edit

Santa Ana, CA.

Other DetailsEdit

  • sixteen-year-old assistant named Nori Wert who helped out on weekends
  • He never seems to feel any birds—can't see them because they're not his to sell—they're magic
  • He hired Nori because she liked birds
  • Everybody called him Uncle Dobbin
  • smoked a pipe

History / Background Edit

Connections (characters, places) Edit

Name What Connection About
Nori Wert assistant Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair pet shop didn't believe, so pulled her magic out in parrot form
Ellen Brady woman with magic Read his story realized about the magic in her

To expand the table, right-press on a row of the table or (Control-press on a Mac)—choose add

Events in the Series (spoilery area) Edit


   “People have magic,” he said, “but most of them don’t want it, or don’t believe in it, or did once, but then forgot. So I take that magic and make it into birds until they want it back, or someone else can use it.”
   “That’s right.”
   “Not birds.”
   Uncle Dobbin nodded.
   “That’s crazy,” Nori said.
   “Is it?”
   He got up stiffly from his chair and stood in front of her with his hands out stretched towards her chest. Nori shrank back from him, figuring he’d flaked out and was going to cop a quick feel, but his hands paused just a few inches from her breasts. She felt a sudden pain inside—like a stitch in her side from running too hard, only it was deep in her chest. Right in her lungs. She looked down, eyes widening as a beak appeared poking out of her chest, followed by a parrot’s head, its body and wings.
   It was like one of the holograms at the Haunted House in Disneyland, for she could see right throughit, then it grew solid once it was fully emerged. The pain stopped as the bird fluttered free, but she felt anempty aching inside. Uncle Dobbin caught the bird, and soothed it with a practiced touch, before letting itfly free. Numbly, Nori watched it wing across the store and settle down near the front window where it began to preen its feathers. The sense of loss inside grew stronger.
   Uncle Dobbin made his way back to his chair and sat down, picking up his pipe once more.
   “That ... it was in me ... I ...”
   “Magic,” he said before he lit it.
   “My ... my magic ... ?”
   Uncle Dobbin nodded. “But not anymore. You didn’t believe.”
   “But I didn’t know!” she wailed.
   “You got to earn it back now,” Uncle Dobbin told her. “The side cages need cleaning.”
   Nori pressed her hands against her chest, then wrapped her arms around herself in a tight hug as though that would somehow ease the empty feeling inside her.
   “E-earn it?” she said in a small voice, her gaze going from his face to the parrot that had come out of her chest and was now sitting by the front window. “By ... by working here?”
   Uncle Dobbin shook his head. “You already work here and I pay you for that, don’t I?”
  “But then how ... ?”
   “You’ve got to earn its trust. You’ve got to learn to believe in it again.”

Notes / CommentsEdit

See AlsoEdit

External LinksEdit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.