Jack and the Lost Tooth
written by Anne Scully
Illustrated by Robert Scully
Children's book review by Steve Barancik.
The Mystery of the Missing Lost Tooth
Robert and Anne Scully certainly know how to play together.
This husband-wife team (Robert's the artist, Anne's the writer, but an art therapist as well) has pieced together a real winner in Jack and the Lost Tooth, a picture book detective story.
Inspired by a note and drawing Anne wrote to the tooth fairy as a 7 year old trying to explain why her lost tooth was not under her pillow, Anne and Robert bring us the story of a boy playing in snow who discovers his tooth is missing.
A tooth. In snow.
Jack is hard at work crafting "the perfect snow angel" when his tongue discovers the new space in his mouth.
He looks around him but can find no sign of the tooth, and he needs it for the tooth fairy. Like all great literary detectives, though, Jack has an assistant he can call on.
Meet Harley, "the world's greatest tooth sniffing dog."
What ensues is a retracing of all the great outdoors fun Jack has had this fine day.
Was the tooth inadvertently eaten? Imaginary x-rays are performed. Taken away by a bird? Nests are inspected.
Parents will realize that Jack, in all his enthusiasm, models some excellent qualities, many of which seem to be in short supply in today's indoor, electronically enthralled world:
Notably, Jack's detective work does NOT result in the finding of his tooth, an unexpected and sophisticated choice by Anne Scully. That gives Jack the opportunity to model one more impressive quality: a positive attitude. The ability to say, "Oh well!"
Like 7 year old Anne, he simply jots a note to the tooth fairy before slipping off into (a well-earned) sleep.
The fun was not in the finding, but in the searching.
Robert Scully works visual magic from his own little Mac using Adobe Illustrator. His palette is appropriately wintry (and toothy white). He fills the page in a pleasingly computerized style that looks like it could have emerged straight out of a 4-star Pixar movie with 300 credited animators.
An "Art Director by day," he even knows how to make fonts fun.
The book has one tiny flaw (besides the misspelling of "cocoa") - and it's not even a flaw if parents know it's coming - so here's your "heads up":
The missing tooth story ends on p. 41, without a The End to warn you. If you don't know that's the case, your reading rhythms might be thrown off when you turn the page and see the letter Anne herself wrote to the tooth fairy as a child. (Nice touch!)
So just remember to say, "The End," when you get to 41, then turn the page to enjoy Anne's youthful artwork. Problem solved!
I took Anne and Robert's lost tooth book out for a test read with a three, a four, and an almost six year old, all of whom just happen to consider growing out of your teeth a fascinating subject! It received excellent reviews all around.
Jack and the Lost Tooth is a wonderful book, and the tie-in to the author's own childhood makes it even easier to identify with.
Now, for us desert denizens (those of us whose children lost their first tooth in a swimming pool!) how about a warm weather version for a sequel?
Learn more about the book at RobertScully.com.
Read more of Steve's reviews.
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