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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Tooth Mouse, written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Janice Nadeau. Kids Can Press, 2012. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"...until she found herself in the great hall of the cathedral, where a crowd of mice had assembled.

A hush fell over the room. Sophie stood on her tiptoes to see a stern but elegant old mouse appear from the shadows in a shower of moonlight.

Sophie gasped. "It's the Tooth Mouse! La Petite Souris!"

The children in France do not leave their teeth under their pillows for a fairy; instead, they leave them to the safekeeping of the Tooth Mouse. She is regal and refined, and aging. Her time as the reigning mouse in charge to tooth collection is coming to a close. She is ready to begin the search for her replacement.

To all newcomers interested in the job, she announces a set of three tasks to be completed. The first is to bring her a cat's whisker; the second is to procure a coin through honesty; the final is to suggest a viable way to use the many teeth that are collected each and every day.

Sophie is keen to have the job, despite her young age and tiny size. She is certainly brave enough to easily and quickly bring back a cat's whisker. She is honest in her dealings, and the coin is soon obtained. The final request proves a bit trickier. She struggles to find a worthy use for the teeth collected. Her dreams teem with teeth. After a fitful sleep, she awakens with the seemingly simple solution. Only three mice are left to present an idea concerning the fate of the teeth collected. Sophie is among them. You will have to guess at her success!

I have read this story aloud numerous times and I had to do a little French practice to get it right. But, it is great fun and the lovely language used to tell it is a pleasure to read. I will enjoy it again and again. The illustrations have a gentle charm, in keeping with the text. They are detailed and done with watercolor and pencil, in a muted pastel palette. Those many details will attract readers' attention and keep them looking for more within the lovely artwork.

With its talking mice, three quests and overall tone, it reads like a fairy tale and is sure to garner interest in how baby teeth are collected beyond our borders. Pair it with Throw Your Tooth on the Roof, by Selby Beeler to add interest.     

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