________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 14. . . .December 7, 2012


The Tooth Mouse.

Susan Hood. Illustrated by Janice Nadeau.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2012.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-55453-565-1.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Linda Ludke.

**** /4



“Bon soir,” cried the Tooth Mouse. “My friends, as you know, I have served faithfully as the Tooth Mouse for many years – dodging cats, collecting coins and delivering the money to children in exchange for their baby teeth. But I am not as spry as I used to be … I have decided it is time to name my successor!”

“AHHHH!” said the crowd.

“SILENCE!” said the Tooth Mouse. She paused to eye the mice over her spectacles. “All those who wish to be chosen will be given three tasks. You must prove that you are brave, honest and , above all, wise!”

Sophie is a small mouse with big aspirations. When the current Tooth Mouse announces her retirement, Sophie decides to apply for the esteemed position. Addressing a crowd of want-to-be successors, the Tooth Mouse issues three challenges: “bring me the whisker of a cat”; “bring me a silver coin” and present a plan for all the baby teeth collected nightly. Sophie triumphs in the first trial by bravely snipping a whisker from a disgruntled feline unable to fit through a mouse hole. She also succeeds with aplomb in the second task by staging a dance performance and is rewarded with a beret full of coins from an appreciative audience. Sophie is initially stymied by the last challenge and fears she will fail. A dove offers sage advice: “Sometimes the wisest answer is the simplest one.” After a fitful night’s sleep dreaming of surreal wide mouths, molars with moustaches and “Chewing, chattering, gnawing, guffawing teeth”, she comes up with an answer. On judgment day, Sophie presents her idea and is declared the “NEW Tooth Mouse”.

internal art     Nadeau’s ink and watercolour illustrations have delicate, fine lines and pale pink and green background hues. The detailed scenes extend the text and show the failed attempts and disqualifications of other contestants, such as a bow-tied and bowler-hatted rodent breaking open a piggy bank. Sophie’s winning idea – give the baby teeth to babies - is illustrated on the final page with a montage of wee tots sporting brand new front teeth.

     The page layout and design has many points of interest. Readers can follow the Tooth Mouse and her entourage down winding staircases that criss-cross the pages. The endpapers are patterned with big and small teeth. Tooth traditions around the world are also listed on the back cover. Australia customarily has a Tooth Fairy while Sri Lanka has a Squirrel, Brazil has a Bird and El Salvador has a Rabbit.

     With superb pacing and elegant writing, this story has a fairy-tale quality. French phrases (“C’est moi!” thought Sophie; “Felicitations!” she said with a hint of a smile; “Did they all succeed? Mais non!”) are sprinkled in the text and add to the read-aloud appeal.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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