Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez - full of laughs and imagination (ages 4-8)

Losing a tooth is a BIG deal. Just ask any little kid in kindergarten or 1st grade - they'll be able to tell you who's lost a tooth recently. It's a rite of passage, a sign that they are growing up. All of a sudden, something solid that's been in their mouth as long as they can remember, suddenly becomes wiggly and then FALLS OUT! Rene Colato Lainez has written a wonderful story blending the traditions of the Tooth Fairy, who visits children throughout North America, and El Raton Perez, who visits children in Spain and throughout Latin America. It's full of humor and imagination, and is a perfect way to celebrate blending traditions of families from many backgrounds.
The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez
by Rene Colato Lainez
illustrated by Tom Lintern
NY: Tricycle Press, 2010
ages 4 - 8
available on Amazon
When Miguelito looses his tooth, he hides it under his pillow. Far away, the Tooth Fairy sees the signal that a tooth is ready for her, but so does El Raton Perez. When both arrive at Miguelito's bedside, they can't believe that there's competition for this pearly white tooth. The fairy says, "Here is my tooth!," and the mouse replies, "¡Aquí está, mi diente!" The Tooth Fairy and El Raton Perez struggle and argue until the tooth is flung up high into Miguelito's bookshelf. Now neither of them will get the tooth, unless they figure a way to work together.

This has been my kindergartner and 3rd grader's favorite picture book this year. They love the way Rene Colato Lainez blends the two cultural traditions. They love the humor, as these two creatures argue just like little kids do. They love the artwork, the way Tom Lintern brings alive the night time of their imaginations with shadows and lighting. The humor in the illustrations matches the text perfectly.

As the School Library Journal review says, "Young readers may not consciously recognize this tale as a metaphor for growing up in two cultures, but the story does model how to successfully negotiate a bicultural life by celebrating both aspects of Miguelito's Mexican-American heritage." This story is so creative and clever that children soak in the reality of a child embracing both sides of his heritage without feeling that it is instructive.

Rene Colato Lainez was born in El Salvador, and moved to the United States as a teenager. He has taught at Fernangeles Elementary School in Sun Valley, CA for seventeen years. He tells a very funny story of hearing a teacher run in fright when a child told her about a little mouse crawling under his pillow to get a tooth he left there.  Check out the Latin Baby Book Club to read the whole story.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher. If you purchase a copy through Amazon, a small percentage will go toward Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

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