Where did the first tooth fairy come from? (Hint: Squirrels play a major role.)
In this debut children’s fantasy, the rather complicated history of the tooth fairy begins when forest squirrels come to a fairy village for help after waking up to find themselves wrapped in spider webs and missing their teeth. The fairies soon learn why. Notorious bad fairy Redanthan Trench took the teeth as a warning to the fairies that Giants (humans) are going to cut down the forest. Backed by Olcas, the wise old fairy chief, Trench demands that his cohorts join him in taking action to stop the Giants. But this crisis takes a back seat for the rest of the novel as shy fairy Adriana figures out how to replace the squirrels’ teeth using the magically transformed, discarded teeth of human children. Along the way, Adriana encounters a hungry fox, thwarts evildoing by Trench’s sidekick, enters into an unexpected friendship with a human girl, and finds a fairy elder with convenient expertise in turning fairy dust into coins for tooth exchanges. In this series opener, McQuaid (Adriana’s Plight, 2018) weaves in a bit of dental information for readers, too: Adriana learns that humans clean their teeth “with a special brush and some stringy stuff at least two times every day” and that losing a tooth can be scary for children. Some plot elements are a stretch even in a fantasy setting. Trench’s theft of squirrel teeth to warn of the forest threat is baffling. (And couldn’t he simply steal the squirrels’ new teeth, too?) The revelation of Olcas’ true nature is too abrupt for credibility, and the fate of the forest, the catalyst for the whole tale, comes up only intermittently. By the end of the story, it has become at best a loose end. But Adriana herself has authentic appeal. The strength of this book for grade-school readers is found in her discovery, observed in the first-person narration of her unnamed best friend, that she is both resourceful and courageous. Camisa’s (Adriana’s Plight, 2018) fine-lined pen-and-ink illustrations add overall charm.
An imaginative but convoluted tooth-fairy origin tale with some plot points in need of streamlining.