Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Review - Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO

Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO
by Tamara Pizzoli
illustrated by Federico Fabiani
Date: 2019
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (BYR)
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

Meet Tallulah.

She’s the Tooth Fairy CEO.

Tallulah knows practically everything about being a tooth fairy. How to collect teeth. Dispense money. Train other fairies. And it’s all in the Teeth Titans Incorporated Employee Manual.

But when something happens that’s not covered in the manual, what's a fairy to do?

Hilarious and smart, this modern take on the classic tooth fairy story is perfect for powerful little leaders ready to take on the world — one tooth at a time.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

While not necessarily a bad book, Tallulah the Tooth Fairy CEO may represent a bit of a mismatch between itself and its intended audience. As an adult, I was slightly bored with the first part of the book that sets up Tallulah's enterprise as a large corporation (Teeth Titans Inc.) and places her as the head of this vast tooth-collecting empire. Does a little kid really want to read about an adult's schedule of therapy, yoga, and errands? The story really only gets going later, when Tallulah has to deal with a kid named Ballard who has misplaced his lost tooth. There's no protocol for such a situation, so Tallulah has to figure out what to do.

Part of the reason I feel like this book is a mismatch for its audience is because of the race issue. Despite the exchange of teeth for money (known as tand-fé) originally being a Northern European tradition, in this book, the whole Tooth Fairy empire is presented as the purview of people of colour. Only two white characters appear in the whole book, and both of them are portrayed as annoying activists. (If you want to try to explain to a five-year-old child the significance of Tom's #AllFairiesMatter t-shirt and his complaint about the lack of diversity on the board of directors, more power to you.) While I don't necessarily have a problem with the Tooth Fairy being black (she's a fictional character, after all, and could potentially be any colour), the way the race issue is handled--probably as a wink to adults who might be reading the book--seems kind of unnecessary for a children's story about a fairy... especially since most little kids won't "get it" without some sort of explanation.

For these reasons, I have a feeling that parents reading this book to their kids will probably enjoy it more than the kids themselves. While the idea of the Tooth Fairy heading up a multinational corporation dedicated to collecting teeth is amusing, the attempts to make it current and diverse kind of push it out of the suitability range for the five-to-seven age group. If you're still young enough to believe in the Tooth Fairy, you're probably not going to have a great grasp of intersectionality and political hashtags.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

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