April and Esme, Tooth Fairies

April and Esme, Tooth Fairies

by Bob Graham

Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2010

31 pp.

Age: 3 +

Interests: fairies, tooth fairies, siblings

Also by this author: Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child

Not so long ago, a tooth fairy took a call on her cell phone.

So begins a charming and thoroughly modern tooth fairy story. April and her little sister Esme go out on their very first tooth-collecting job without their parents. There are a couple snags along the way, but luckily the girls can text home for advice. Mission accomplished, they return home to hugs from their very proud parents.

Big sister and little sister help each other through an important first trip. A very sweet story, with no anxiety-provoking mishaps along the way: the girls do a very good job. Also a wonderful example of family support, as the parents prep them, give them lots of advice, and a cell phone, but have enough confidence in their girls to let them go alone. And when the girls return the warmth and pride everyone shares is simply lovely.

Mom and Dad hugged them till their wings crackled.

The most unique aspect of this story, however, lies in its setting. As in his other book Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child, Bob Graham locates this fairy tale in a litter-strewn, modern city setting. This fairy family lives happily in the midst of weeds, thistles, trash and empty beer bottles, right beside a busy highway. The parents are very bohemian, which makes total sense. Pony-tailed Dad busily hangs wet laundry in front of the fire. Tattooed Mom is taking a bath in a teacup. The dainty traditions of fairy lore are comfortably shown alongside more mundane details of their life. A fancy china egg cup is being used as a toilet. Teeth hang from the kitchen ceiling, and Mom finds a string bag to carry the coin out and the tooth back. After their return Dad plans to show off their newest tooth at the next Fairy Craft Market.

I love the way that Graham relocates fairy magic, planting it right in the most dreary spots of today’s urban landscape. By doing so he makes it possible for children in all environments to imagine there may be fairies in their neighbourhood. And alongside it all is a warm depiction of a truly loving family.

Three year olds will appreciate the gentle story, but 5 or 6 year olds will love it as well, and enjoy all the quirky details in the illustrations.

(This title on amazon.)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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