Sunday, May 1, 2011
April and Esme Tooth Fairies, written and illustrated by Bob Graham. Candlewick, Random House. 2010. $19.00 ages 3 and up
"The wind took them...
and shook them...
pushed them and pulled them.
It shivered down Esme's wings...
and rippled through the feathers
of a passing owl.
"There's Cornflower Terrace!"
They dropped through the dark..."
Who knew the Tooth Fairy had a husband and two daughters? Oh, I love it when Bob Graham writes new stories! They are always full of gentle warmth and fantastic imaginings.
In this tale, two young fairies are summoned by a doting grandmother to undertake a mission:
"Not so long ago, a tooth fairy
took a call on her cell phone.
"April Underhill here."
With one finger in her ear to block
the traffic noise, she listened.
"You're his grandma?
No, my sister, Esme, and I
don't do tooth visits yet.
Our mom and dad always...
You want US?
We shall be there.
So much is told in a few short lines and it gets our heads buzzing with questions and doing some critical thinking based on our prior knowledge. What did it make you think about?
What do contemporary tooth fairies look like?
How old are they?
Mom and Dad?
When a tooth fairy (or two) get a personal call to do a tooth exchange, they must respond. Their return home is quickly made to ensure that all pertinent information is recorded. Mom is not so sure that they are ready. April is only seven and Esme younger than that. Mom has concerns, the girls counter those worries with assurance and astute observation:
"'Well, some things haven't changed, Mommy."
Esme took a sip of her dandelion soup.
"Children still lose their first teeth," April said,
"and ducklings still have to take their first swim.""
It seems a relevant argument. Mom and Dad offer advice, pack a coin in a string bag, and suggest sending a text if one is needed. They are off. Filled with confidence and a desire to succeed, they negotiate wind currents and arrive at their destination. They find their way inside, follow the toy trail to Daniel's bedroom and are surprised to find he has left his tooth in a glass of water. Undaunted, and a swimmer to boot, April dives in and comes up with said tooth. Just as they are making the exchange Daniel awakens and the girls must text their mother for advice.
Advice given and taken, they take their leave, checking on Grandma as they go. A quick and uneventful return flight soon has them safe in their parents' arms. A glass of juice, more warm and assuring hugs and they settle into sleep just as the sun begins its ascent. Meanwhile, at 3 Cornflower Terrace, Daniel is relating his wondrous dreams and showing off his tooth fairy gift to Grandma.
If I had my wish, I would tell you in great detail about the inspired artwork that accompanies each page of inventive text. Bob Graham fills them with whimsical watercolor and ink drawings that sparkle with little details such as the tooth grinder that sits on the desk inside the front door, a modern pony-tailed dad whose work today includes hanging the laundry and carrying a feather duster, a dog with wings, a group of rabbits created from collected teeth; that's only the first page!
Put this one at the top of your 'tooth fairy' books and share it as often as you possibly can!