Friday, November 11, 2011

April and Esme Tooth Fairies

Booklist starred (October 1, 2010 (Vol. 107, No. 3))

Preschool-Grade 2. It’s easy to miss the very beginning of this story, which starts before the title page. April, a seven-year-old fairy, gets a call on her cell phone. A boy has lost his tooth. Can April come pick it up, his grandma wonders? Well, no. April and sister Esme are too young for that. But when the grandma insists, they decide to give it a go. At first, their parents put up a fight, but the sisters remind them that back in the day, fairies started young. And so, packed with plenty of advice and cautions, the girls set out into the night, encountering the wind and an owl, until they drop down at Daniel’s house. They find the tooth, almost get caught, must make some crucial decisions, are tempted by Grandma’s false teeth, and return in one piece, a rite of passage now finished. There’s so much wonderful whimsy here, it’s hard to know what to praise first. As always, a major treat is Graham’s detail-filled artwork, here punctuated by a fairy toilet made from an egg cup and ceiling decorations of hanging teeth. But Graham also slyly covers some interesting issues as well: the cocoon in which parents like to keep their kiddies, alternative families, and the pride and accomplishment children feel with a job well done. Fresh and lots of fun.

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