In this second children’s chapter book in a series, a tooth fairy gets help from friends after she’s banished to Decay Valley for collecting an inadequately brushed tooth.
Batina is a “Tooth Collector” with a problem: Her next assignment, a boy named Scooter Brown, hasn’t been brushing well, and a tooth fairy’s chief responsibility is to motivate kids to practice good dental hygiene. If the tooth that she collects doesn’t pass inspection, she’ll be sent to Decay Valley until Scooter loses another, well-brushed tooth. (Well-brushed teeth, it turns out, are the source of fairy dust, which allows fairies to fly.) Meanwhile, fairy Jolene passes her tooth-collector exams with a respectable B-plus after having failed them the previous year. However, she still likes to cut corners, and before Batina can stop her, she disguises Scooter’s decayed tooth with white paint, hoping it’ll pass muster. Of course, the ruse doesn’t work. Before Batina reports to Decay Valley, she writes an encouraging note to Scooter, leaves it in her room, and asks her friends to deliver it. However, Jolene is too impatient to look for Batina’s note, so she tries to help by forging a new one. After the tooth-fairy authorities discover Jolene’s latest trick, they remind her of the fairy rules, which include strict honesty. After several days, Scooter loses another tooth; Jolene, regretting her previous behavior, volunteers to collect it, hoping for the best. Ditto (The Tooth Collector Fairies: Batina’s Best First Day, 2016) again uses the issue of dental hygiene, important in itself, to teach larger lessons about honesty, fairness, and cooperation. Jolene, the previous book’s most intriguing character, again steals the show here, and Ditto makes the tooth-fairy community seem like fun. However, it’s illogical that fairies should suffer banishment for children’s poor teeth, particularly when they have no chance to encourage them toward proper hygiene beforehand. Also, making young readers feel responsible for fairies’ well-being may add an extra layer of guilt to the dental-hygiene process. Illustrator Utomo’s (Mayanito’s New Friends, 2017, etc.) colorful images depict a diverse group of fairies and capture their actions and expressions well.
An entertaining tale despite Decay Valley’s guilt trip.