Review of The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story

The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story
by Bob Graham; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    48 pp.
10/19    978-1-5362-1112-2    $16.99

Tooth fairy sisters April and Esme (April and Esme, Tooth Fairies, rev. 9/10), along with dog Ariel and new baby brother Vincent, are fluttering in for a sleepover with their grandparents while their parents go out on assignment (“Urgent molar pickup on Main Street”). Grandma and Grandad live in a cozy teapot near the airport, and the illustrations overflow with clever Borrowers-like details — bottle-cap stools, a tea-bag punching bag for Grandad’s fitness, a huge dandelion centerpiece on a table. “Grandma and Grandad’s! A whole day and night. Where the tea is always hot, there’s a bed for weary wings, and pancakes with syrup for breakfast.” When a call comes about a child named Akuba with a baby tooth out who is incoming on flight 417 from Ghana, the tooth fairy sisters (with Grandma in tow) fill in for their parents. The enormous airport is teeming with people and other smaller beings flying high above — cupids who “help people meet” and angels who “do the sad arrivals” or “just watch over” or “help push trolleys.” At last, Akuba appears and the sisters swap her pocketed tooth for a coin, luckily found in a vending machine, as Grandma had forgotten to bring one. The soft ink and watercolor illustrations deftly blend funny and touching details to build a magical world within our own. Readers who find comfort or pleasure in this tooth fairy realm, replete with old-fashioned charm as well as modern conveniences — and troubles — should check out the previous volume as well.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Roach
Julie Roach

Julie Roach, chair of the 2020 Caldecott Committee, manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

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