The Tooth Mouse by Susan Hood

Lynn:  As we’ve written before, loose tooth books are surprisingly hard to find so we’re always excited when we find a good new one.  The Tooth Mouse (Kids Can 2012) is exactly  that and has the added benefit of giving a lovely new twist to the tooth fairy story.

Long ago in an ancient cathedral in France there was a little mouse who would NOT go to bed because she wanted to play tooth mouse.  One night Sophie follows interesting noises through the church and comes upon a gathering of mice surrounding the real Tooth Mouse.  The old mouse has decided to name her successor and sets the candidates three tasks to prove that whoever is chosen is brave, honest and wise.  The last task is the most perplexing of all!  The candidates must decide what to do with all those gathered baby teeth!  (Many of us have pondered that very question – including the focus group!)

Young readers will delight in watching Sophie take on the challenges and her solution is as enchanting as the illustrations.  Janice Nadeau uses airy drawings and pastel watercolors to create a dreamy setting with just a hint of a bite.  The delicate details make this book best as a lap book and the sprinkling of French adds to the flavor, mais no?  This is a winner for the toothless set!

Cindy: When my children lost their teeth they frequently found foreign coins under their pillows–a sure sign that a busy tooth fairy had been whizzing around the globe at night and got confused about what currency she needed to leave behind where! Hood and Nadeau have created a charming story from one of the many varied tooth traditions. Sophie is a delightful heroine, proving her worth despite her petite size. Children might be intrigued enough to research other traditions, although the research path is fraught with spoilers for those still new to tooth loss. It might be interesting to move from this picture book to the nonfiction title Throw your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World by Selby Beeler (Hougton 1998). A list of tooth traditions by country is provided on the back inside cover of Hood’s book, although my public library’s processing prevents me from seeing the whole list. (If only the publishers could factor this inevitability into their book design…that list could have gone on the left side of that final spread and not be blocked by a secured book jacket flap. Just a thought.)

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees.

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