Tuesday, April 23, 2019


By Mo Willems

(Hyperion Books for Children, 2018)

When you're young, losing a tooth is a big deal. I forgot that until I became a principal. Then I'd see kindergarteners and first graders come down to the office with a buddy, tooth in the palm of their hand, proudly telling the school secretary they lost their tooth. While I'd ham it up--"Oh, dear! Where'd you lose it? We should do a search!"--the school administrative assistant would reach in a cupboard to get a plastic tooth holder for the tooth-lite person to take home the little white nugget. Smiles all around.

I Lost My Tooth! is one of Willems' easy readers, a hefty 85-page book that is a quick page turner for the most part. The bulk of the book is taken up by the "BIG Story" about a bunch of squirrels fretting over Zoom Squirrel's lost tooth. And it's as silly as you'd expect.

     ZOOM SQUIRREL:     The tooth was loose.
     FLINK SQUIRREL:     Aha!
     ZOWIE SQUIRREL:    You should not let a tooth go loose, Zoom Squirrel.
     WINK SQUIRREL:      Teeth have no sense of direction.
     FLINK SQUIRREL:     You should have used a leash.

These squirrels are as corny--or as Willems would say, acorn-y--as I am.

The reading level is slightly higher than Elephant and Piggie books so it may require more support and it may not generate as many encore readings. Kids will like bonus features like the Emot-acorns in the bottom corner of pages and the Acorn-y jokes that appear after the main story. I Lost My Tooth! also includes nonfiction information at the end of the book, explaining what teeth are made of and comparing numbers and sets of teeth in squirrels, bears and sharks. (I also like the fact that this book has a table of contents which Willems intentionally points out to readers.) As is often the case with factual material, the reading level goes up a couple notches with vocabulary such as enamel, research and theory. This part of the book will require extra support. Still, it's refreshing to get the real scoop about squirrel teeth after all the zany fun.

I Lost My Tooth! doesn't have quite the charm factor of the Pigeon books or the Elephant and Piggie series but it will still be an entertaining experience for young readers, another memorable notch on their reading journey.

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