The Tooth Mouse by Susan Hood and Janice Nadeau

The first time I saw The Tooth Mouse, I knew this fanciful tale would be a favorite with kids. The whimsical, intricate drawings bring to life the adorable story of Sophie, the little mouse who aspires to succeed the aging Tooth Mouse, who wants to retire. Three tasks are required to prove that she can take over properly to deliver the money to French children in exchange for their teeth. She must exhibit bravery by fetching the whisker of a cat, honesty by obtaining a silver coin, and wisdom as she hatches a useful plan for all those teeth that are collected. Each page is a feast of detail, illustrating the three tasks and their results. The first challenge to escape with a cat’s whisker, spans across two pages and shows the four-part sequence of three mice’s attempts–one snipped while the cat was sleeping, one rolled a ball of string to tie him up,  and Sophie got him to chase her up to her mouse hole and cut off his whisker while he peeked inside. These parallel sequence stories were perfect for asking children to tell the story from the pictures and compare the results–what is the same and what is different? “The cat chased her, but the cat couldn’t chase them because she was tied up!” My little listeners pointed out and counted who succeeded at a task and who didn’t and who moved on in the competition. The three character traits requiring, bravery, honesty and wisdom launched plenty of discussion on what those terms mean and how we can show those qualities. Finally, each page of intricate drawings served as a language lesson as we chose our favorite and talked about it. One little girl chose Sophie’s dream illustration and had such fun adding her names to the list of teeth–“walking teeth, rainbow teeth, braces teeth, tree teeth, toothpaste teeth, spiky teeth, and spider web teeth!” Her second place favorite was when “they filled the castle with the tooths!” The Tooth Mouse is a beautiful fable to take in and sparks lots of conversation.

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delicate, fanciful, intricateO

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