In Finn’s debut picture book, an 8-year-old realizes that not brushing her teeth has led to a disastrous result: a tarnished smile.
Farrah Feeth is fabulous. She’s a tutu-wearing, tree-climbing, brownie-baking sort of girl who, until recently, hated brushing her teeth. When her mother tells her about the Sugar Bugs, an imaginative representation of plaque, Farrah is unimpressed. Her mother warns her that without tooth brushing, the Sugar Bugs will get her, especially if she eats junk food. When Farrah ignores her mother’s warnings, her mother says she’ll stop reminding Farrah to brush, so she’ll learn for herself. Unafraid of the consequences, Farrah forgoes brushing her teeth for three weeks. Nothing bad happens—until picture day at school. One look in the mirror and Farrah realizes that those three weeks of not brushing have made her fabulous smile frightful. After an imaginary conversation with a Sugar Bug (who looks like a yellow tooth dressed as a pirate, hook and eye patch included), Farrah is so embarrassed she refuses to open her mouth the rest of the school day. When she gets home, though, she rushes to brush her teeth. Farrah is a changed girl: She tells her mother, “I’m going to scrub them away every single day….I’ll open my mouth wide and use toothpaste with fluoride, and then I’m going to floss between each tooth every day and be a cavity super sleuth.” The text is lengthy, and Farrah’s fabulousness—or is it arrogance?—might rub readers the wrong way, but readers may enjoy watching her get taken down a notch and, after so much bragging in the opening, her learning a lesson. The watercolorlike illustrations from veteran illustrator Lemaire perfectly capture the tone of the story, although the image of the piratic tooth is used several times over, sometimes merely as an exact mirror image, with the hook and eye patch switching sides of his body. Farrah’s smile never looks quite as gross as the text implies, but the Sugar Bug is giggle-worthy, and Farrah’s embarrassed expressions are priceless.
A clever, if text-heavy, debut picture book with a bite.