Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Tooth by Avi Slodovnick, illustrated by Manon Gauthier

Some of the art in this picture book is quite attractive - it's all pastels of gray and white with scratchy bits of color - but the story is so weird and disconnected I can't really see an audience for it.

Marissa has to go to the dentist. On the way, she sees a homeless man on the street. At the dentist, she gets her tooth removed (Apparently without anaesthetic! Those Canadians are tough!) and is told to put it under her pillow so the tooth fairy will bring her money. On the way home, she stops and gives her tooth to the homeless man, so he can put it under his pillow and get the money. The story ends: "At first the man looked surprised. Then he smiled warmly and waved good-bye to Marissa as she and her mother walked away. Now all he needed...[next page]...was a pillow."

This story was apparently translated from French, and of course sometimes the text loses in the translation. But...I really can't figure out what this story is going for. If it's trying to engender compassion or explain homelessness to young children, there's way too much subtlety and the text is far too lengthy. If for older children, the girl is too young. It has sort of the feeling of a fable, or....It's just....a weird little story. I would be happy to see a couple good picture books on going to the dentist or dealing with homeless people, but the two subjects together don't work well.

Verdict: Not recommended

ISBN: 978-1935279723; Published September 2010 by Kane Miller; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates

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