Mr. Cat in the Hat penned tales brimming with humor, heart and wisdom. Oh, the places they take us, young and old! But for every Seussian whimsy there are dozens of books you grit your teeth reading just to get junior’s eyes shut.
It’s why “The Toothless Fairy” is such a spry exception.
Created by Skeeter Buck (story), Timothy Jordan (text) and Matthew LaFleur (illustrations), this “Fairy” features a less than glamorous creature who fears what others think of her appearance. That changes as Halloween nears, a season when “monsters” roam the streets to the delight of children everywhere. Our cautious fairy sees a glimmer of hope. All she wants is to play with new friends.
The first children’s book from Night River Press doesn’t hold back on the title character’s visage. And yet the text explains that her smile, even with its diseased gums, packs an unexpected warmth.
The rest of “The Toothless Fairy” is equally assured in its storytelling. The rhymes flow in a pleasing way, with only a couple of lines sounding inelegant at first blush. LaFleur’s imaginative art and effective use of white space make the text easy to read even in dim lighting.
There’s a sly shout out to Seuss within the story – “perhaps Halloween was not just about sweets.” An ode, perhaps, to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas’s” kicker?
Jordan’s narrative packs several moral lessons in economical fashion. The forlorn fairy worries what others will think of her, connecting to the woes children have in their peer group. Yet we learn anew how children can look past a person’s appearance and go straight to their heart.
And, of course, the reason why the fairy is toothless reminds us of the damage those Halloween treats do to our dental work.
Buck’s inspiration for the story came from her young son, Daniel, and the sharing tradition they started when he was first old enough to go Trick or Treating.
Will “The Toothless Fairy” spark other families to consider the same? It’s too soon to tell. Rest assured, reading this “Fairy” will at least transport parent and child as only the better books can.