One of my most vivid memories of teaching has to do with the Tooth Fairy. I was a young teacher, probably only three or four years into my career. I had organized my library into labeled baskets, and spent several mini-lessons going through the baskets with my first and second graders. We had two librarians, who were in charge of keeping the baskets in order. Once a week or so, I would do a quick check and reorganize a few books. No big deal, right?
There was one book, however, that consistently ended up in the wrong place. THE TOOTH FAIRY BOOK (not sure that was the exact title) was a large white paperback, one of those that you get for free when you order a bunch of books from a book club. It didn't have a great cover. It didn't have great illustrations. The text, one sentence per page, was really flat and boring, something along the lines of, "The Tooth Fairy comes at night. The Tooth Fairy leaves surprises in a special place. The Tooth Fairy likes to get notes."
It was one of my kids' favorite books! It got read and reread and argued over as much as any other book in our classroom.
And it always ended up in the wrong basket. It was clearly a fiction picture book. I didn't have a lot of books about the Tooth Fairy, not enough for a whole basket, so it was supposed to be in a miscellaneous, basket, alphabetically with the other S and T titles.
The Tooth Fairy book, however, always, always, always ended up in nonfiction.
One day, sick of moving it, I asked my six and seven-year-olds to tell me why they put it there. They seemed surprised I had asked.
"Miss Carol," they said, "This is where it goes. The Tooth Fairy is a real person. It's nonfiction. And it teaches us all about her."
My jaw dropped. The Tooth Fairy? A fantasy creature? Nonfiction? Ok, then. Definitely one of those times when I understood that I did not inhabit the same world as my little guys. And the Tooth Fairy book stayed in the nonfiction section the rest of the year.
I thought about that book this week when I was at Tattered Cover and came across Debra Underwood's newest book, HERE COMES THE TOOTH FAIRY CAT. TOOTH FAIRY CAT is the third book in a series that also includes SANTA CAT and the EASTER CAT. In this book, Cat decides he wants to see the Tooth Fairy. He is given a tutu, a set of wings, and a sidekick, a mouse, who has its own ideas about how to help. They must work together to deliver surprises to three different recipients- a squirrel, a gopher, and a bear. Working as a team, they accomplish the tasks (OK, with only a few mishaps), but Cat doesn't see the Tooth Fairy. Or does he???
Really funny and perfect for the tooth-losing set. I could also see using this book to start a discussion about collaboration and cooperation.