Monday, 30 September 2019

"Dave and the Tooth Fairy" by Verna Wilkins and Carl Pearce (Studio Press)

We've seen quite a lot of books on the blog that cover one of the quirkiest parts of children's formative years, but this story - reworked and reprinted from Verna Wilkins' original 1993 classic - is something of a treat, particularly when you consider just how ahead of its time it really was.

In "Dave and the Tooth Fairy" by Verna, with new artwork from super-talented Carl Pearce, young Dave has a problem that's common to quite a few kids. He has a wobbly tooth, perfectly natural, nothing to worry about.

Only there's a problem. When Dave's tooth finally does come out, it's as a result of a humungous SNEEZE!

The tooth shoots across the room never to be seen again.

The real issue is that Dave doesn't have that shiny bit of enamel to tuck under his pillow. And no tooth means no loot from the Tooth Fairy.

Will Dave's plaintive wish be heard, will the tooth fairy somehow find it within her heart to cough up even though the tooth is long gone?

Thankfully Dave's tooth fairy is super-smart - and won't let a little thing like a missing tooth phase her at all!

Carl Pearce's artwork is just so, so good in this brilliant book!

Straight off the bat, this instantly feels like the grandaddy of so many other "tooth fairy" tales that followed (and are still being written / illustrated today).

Somewhat annoyingly, in our 'switched on' diverse world, this is also still one of the few tooth fairy tales with an all-black cast.

We've campaigned long and hard for children's picture books to feature more diverse characters, and how this is so important for kids - to be able to see kids just like them doing things just like they do. Why are we still having to campaign like this 26 years on from a book that was so inspirational and ground-breaking at the time it came out?

Oh no! No tooth, no loot!!
The whole flow of the story is full of neat little nuances that again mark it a cut above so many similar titles. Dave himself is a fab character, and we really feel for him when he initially ends up losing his tooth - and his angst at perhaps missing out on the financial reward that he'd been banking on from trading in his old holey gnasher for a shiny coin.

It's stylish stuff from cover to cover, largely thanks to Verna's original tweaked story and Carl's superb new artwork. Very highly recommended.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A fab version of the tooth fairy story told in a way that was immensely ground breaking at the time it originally came out, with a brilliant central character who boosts this book's appeal high above the norm.

"Dave and the Tooth Fairy" by Verna Wilkins and Carl Pearce is out now, published by Studio Press (kindly supplied for review).