Alison McGhee, Author, Harry Bliss, Illustrator , illus. by Harry Bliss. Harcourt $16 (36p) ISBN 978-0-15-204931-7

Having tackled shoelace-tying and new-school jitters, the heroine from Countdown to Kindergarten (and Puddy, her cat) is back to start first grade—with a loose tooth. There's just one problem: a second-grader warns her that the first-grade teacher, Mrs. Watson, is a "three-hundred-year-old alien who steals baby teeth from her students." Once again making comical use of spot illustrations and thought balloons intermingled with the main narrative, Bliss conveys palpable fear on the heroine's face, as she looks for her teacher's telltale purple tongue, and shuns the treat box where the woman purportedly "keeps all those baby teeth." Fans will note McGhee's sly references to the first book ("Counting backwards from ten is my specialty! But wait. Keep... mouth... closed," reads the heroine's thought balloon when the teacher asks if anyone knows how), while Bliss fills the book with enough details for parents and kids to pore over (the Drama Club poster announces a production of Marathon Man, "a chilling tale of suspense and toothaches," a Book Fair poster advertises Harry Plotter and the Huge Cavity by J.K. Salinger"). A reassuring, humorous ending when the heroine's tooth finally does pop out in Mrs. Watson's classroom reminds readers that they must rely on their own experiences—not the say-so of others. Ages 4-7. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/05/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Compact Disc - 978-1-59519-900-3
Hardcover - 978-1-59519-902-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59519-896-9
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-15-206348-1
Prebound-Sewn - 33 pages - 978-1-60686-062-5
Hardcover - 36 pages - 978-89-8414-121-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59519-898-3
Paperback - 978-1-59519-901-0
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