Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, June 10, 2013


One of the most anticipated events with elementary students is the loss of a tooth.  Many a lesson, storytelling circle and book browsing session has been interrupted by a young, eager and happy voice shouting out, "My tooth fell out!"  Students gather around the lucky soul as if they have discovered gold.  A plastic tooth on a string necklace, a small hinged box, perfect for holding the treasure, is a favorite piece of "jewelry", a point of pride.

The next morning they are regaling their best buddies with a story of the tooth fairy's visit.  Never having thought about it, but granting it makes perfect sense, other creatures with teeth probably have their own tooth fairies.  With a blast from the prehistoric past The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy (Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.) written by Martha Brockenbrough with illustrations by Israel Sanchez tells a tale of teeth, longing and finding the one thing which bridges across the ages.

Inside the museum of truly old things, past the food court, the woolly mammoths, and the wheel exhibit, the last Dinosaur Tooth Fairy polishes her collection of fangs.

As you can imagine it has been quite some time since the Dinosaur Tooth Fairy has gathered in any new pearly whites.  You can only dust and shine your current cache for so many millenia before the urge, the urge for another tooth, is overwhelming.  Being the final one of your kind is mighty, mighty lonely, too.

With the practiced eye of one at the top of her profession, the Dinosaur Tooth Fairy spies a very loose tooth, so loose it falls out of the mouth of a young visitor at the museum. Lickety split she leaves her world behind to see the little girl gulped up by a noisy, yellow behemoth; she grabs on for all she's worth.  When it stops, with relief she notes, the child escapes only to enter another challenging menace.

As darkness descends, finally finding an opening, she continues her pursuit looking in the most unusual nooks and crannies (to her) with next to no help from the other irritating inhabitants.  As the sun begins it's climb into a new day, the Dinosaur Tooth Fairy's goal is at last within her grasp.  She reaches... getting more than she bargained for in the beginning.

As evidenced by her young adult title debut (Devine Intervention reviewed here) author Martha Brockenbrough knows how to spin a story that is heartwarming, thoughtful and surprising.  Her love of language, playing with word combinations, to create the correct atmosphere for the tale and meaningful moods for her characters, will call out to you, welcoming you to join in the toothy quest.  Choosing to focus on a single word, repeating it three times in a row, increases tension, further binding the reader to the plight of the desperate dino.  Here are a couple of examples.

She has a spiky beauty from a Spinosaurus,
a mighty molar from the Gigantosaurus,
and a splendid side tooth she snagged from a yawning duck-billed Hadrosaur.

It's definitely not with the parrot,
who is rude, rude, rude and that is ALL there is to say.

How can readers not be drawn to the green, grinning, crowned, flying dinosaur in a frilly skirt, purple purse loaded with large teeth, on the cover of this book?  The truth is, they can't.  Using gouache to color the world of The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy, illustrator Israel Sanchez, putting paint to paper, begins to add his special ingredients to the story as soon as the cover is opened.

His visuals tell a tale all their own complimenting and completing Brockenbrough's words.  Readers will immediately note and continue to look for the mysterious being in disguise.  Most of the the bold, bright pictures extend from edge to edge across two pages; a few single pages are opposite a large oval illustration.  The humorous delight is in the details, facial expressions and body language, dinosaur tails, dog drool, dentures in a glass, a hairy hamster and a cranky, tattle-tale parrot.  I think one of the funniest pictures is of the Dinosaur Tooth Fairy squeezing through the doggy door trying to placate the household pet with dog bones.

A first picture book for both author Martha Brockenbrough and illustrator Israel Sanchez, The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy will fly right into your heart filling it with laughter and friendship...and you won't even have to loose a tooth to get these gems.

By following the link embedded in the title you will find lots of extra goodies at a special website for the book.  There are links embedded in the author and illustrator names to their official websites.  Martha Brockenbrough is donating ten percent of her royalties to Kids International Dental Services, which provides pro bono dental care to impoverished children in developing countries.

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