cover image The Very Beary Tooth Fairy

The Very Beary Tooth Fairy

Arthur A. Levine, illus. by Sarah S. Brannen. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-439-43966-4

Do mythic characters—especially ones that come bearing goodies—belong to us all, regardless of race, creed, or species? That’s the big question Zach the bear cub struggles with as one of his front teeth starts wiggling. The Easter Bunny could only be a rabbit, and Zach is sure Santa is a bear, but the tooth fairy is an unknown quantity. What if she’s human? Zach’s mother says humans are “dangerous and unpredictable,” but she also says, “A bear can be anyone.... And anyone can be a bear.” While Zach is sleeping, readers learn that the tooth fairy is indeed a bear; not only does she exchange Zach’s tooth for a dollar, she also turns his teddy boy and poster of a (human) baseball player into bears. In so doing, Levine (Monday Is One Day) underlines the need for heroes that “look like us” (he invokes Barack Obama and Sandy Koufax in his dedication). Brannen’s (Uncle Bobby’s Wedding) calm, pretty watercolor and pencil drawings offer a reassuring counterpoint to Zach’s anxiousness, but the characterizations feel too wooden to make much of a connection. Ages 3–5. (Feb.)