Retrospective reviews - A look back at childhood literature favourites
On a typically grey uneventful day when the sun only occasionally appears during intervals in amongst the scenic backdrop of the hustle and bustle of a crowded concrete jungle, I find myself wonderfully carefree and lost in my own little imaginative world as I eagerly search through peoples unwanted bits and pieces in a charity shop that resembles an Aladdin’s cave, full of wonders scatted with memories and thrown away treasures.
Crouched down in the corner concentrating with great precision is a shelf before me littered with books in all shapes, sizes and colours. Than my eyes suddenly catch a glimpse of something awfully familiar as my hand enthusiastically grabs this recognisable object. For now in the firm grip of my hand is a book so beautifully magical that fairy dust could quite literally drop from its pages leaving the floor covered in pink sparkles.
Tooth Fairy, a short children’s book written by Audrey Wood begins with a little boy called Matthew who after going to bed for the night wakes up excitedly after his tooth falls out, ‘’Mother! Come quick! I’ve pulled a tooth’’ he shouts waking his Sister Jessica sleeping beside him in her bed. Matthews mother hearing her sons eager screams comes to her sons bedside as she rejoices with him the falling out of his tooth, ‘’Tell me about the tooth fairy again, please!’’ pleads Matthew as his mum caters to his innocent and imaginative mind, all while his unimpressed and clearly sceptical sister Jessica looks on in bemusement and doubt.
‘’Every night, the tooth fairy files about with her basket of goodies. Put your tooth under your pillow, and she will swap it for some treasures,’’ the mum explains to her son as he looks on in awe and wonderment, it is this part in the book that I most hold fondly as beautifully illustrated are the array of treasures a wishful child could find potentially under their pillow as the tooth fairy pays them a visit in exchange for their fallen tooth, fruit, toys, all colourfully drawn to perfection as the sister Jessica still unamused by the tales of the tooth fairy covers her ears in annoyance.
Jessica the true star of the book in my personal opinion is stubborn, spoilt and hilarious as bemused by her brothers fascination of the tooth fairy is determined she wants to find treasures waiting for her under her pillow too. Though still very much with doubts and reservations she wants the gifts the tooth fairy lays upon those children with fallen tooth, even though unfortunately for Jessica her teeth are still perfectly intact. Now on a mission to fool the tooth fairy if she does in fact exist Jessica followed by reluctant brother Matthew search the house late at night with torch in hand looking for something that will perhaps resemble a tooth to place under her pillow.
With the mum sleeping and Matthew trying to convince his stubborn sister that her plan won’t work they soon come across the kitchen where while searching high and low come across sweetcorn in the fridge, “Ahhh. Just what I need, a kernel of corn. A little white paint makes it look like a real tooth” she excitedly proclaims as she places the now painted white sweetcorn under her pillow. ‘’It won’t work, Jessica’’ her brother remarks as they both finally go to bed, ‘’Nighty-night, Matthew’’ replies Jessica as her sleepy eyes close, dreamingly imagining the gifts that will await her underneath her pillow when she wakes up.
Without spoiling what happens next what follows is a journey of magically shrunken children, a palace made entirely of children’s teeth, a hall of perfect teeth where the most prized and perfect children’s teeth are placed and admired, and a creepy dungeon made entirely of the worst teeth that inhabits angry robots who don’t like being lied to, and ultimately a tooth fairy who is not easily fooled by a fake tooth. Released in 1985 this enduring book has stood the test of time, and unlike Jessica’s fake sweetcorn tooth shows no sign of wear and tear any time soon. This book is fantastic for encouraging children to keep their teeth clean enough to warrant a place in the ‘hall of perfect teeth’ and I should know, as of writing all my teeth still very much remain, I may have this book to thank for that.
And in that unassuming charity shop amongst the hand me downs and clutter I eagerly race to the till to purchase my find. And even through it may not be a treasure bestowed upon me by the tooth fairy laying wait beneath my pillow, it is a treasure more precious that I can take with me and read and reminisce at home.