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  • Writer's picturePicture Book Snob

Late nights and twinkling lights: tooth fairies on tour

Tooth Fairy in Training by Michelle Robinson and Briony May Smith, Walker Books

Tooth Fairy in Training by Michelle Robinson and Briony May Smith, Walker Books

What's it about?

Tate is having her first ever lesson in being a tooth fairy. Tate's older sister May is showing her the ropes. They fly all around the world to lots of wonderful locations, even venturing under water, collecting teeth, leaving coins and fairy dust wherever they go.

What can we learn?

Being a tooth fairy is tougher than you think! We learn all about the hidden hazards associated with this role as Tate visits a variety of wild, and often dangerous, animals. Not all children are human but they all lose teeth!

Tooth Fairy in Training by Michelle Robinson and Briony May Smith, Walker Books

What makes this stand out? Michelle Robinson is one of our favourite authors (we love her fiction for older readers as well as her picture books). Briony May Smith is one of our favourite author-illustrators (see our reviews of Margaret's Unicorn written and illustrated by Briony, and Stardust by Jeanne Willis). The combined talents of Michelle and Briony make this an exceptional book, brimming with imagination, humour and child-like wonder, with absolutely stunning illustrations.

About those illustrations...

I could talk about the illustrations for hours! I don't know what it is about Briony's art, but it speaks to my inner child and I find it very moving. Her work recalls and makes me nostalgic for the types of stories I enjoyed when I was younger. I know I would have loved her books if they had been around then.

Tooth Fairy in Training by Michelle Robinson and Briony May Smith, Walker Books

So much care and attention goes into the details and each image has a warm and affectionate glow. My kids love looking at the scenes set in Tate's home and they're among my favourites too. I love all the aerial views and starlit skies. The underwater scenes are breath-taking, the trails of fairy dust are fabulous - the whole book is a work of art. Tate's little tree house is so cosy and pretty, especially at night when illuminated by fairy lights and tiny candles. I love all their glass jars of specimens and the tooth on their letterbox. The little forest fungi growing everywhere make each scene feel even more authentic and earthier. I was a huge fan of The Borrowers series by Mary Norton as a child and Tate's matchbox bed reminds me of these stories. The images all look hand-drawn and hand-painted, use a gorgeous, gentle palette, and have a magical, dream-like quality.

Tooth Fairy in Training by Michelle Robinson and Briony May Smith, Walker Books

Why we love it...

Michelle Robinson does rhyming so well and this is such a pleasure to read aloud. I love Michelle's playful sense of adventure and slightly wicked sense of humour, and they strongly resonate with my children too. There's so much to discuss on every page. We have great fun speculating on what belongs to whom when we see Tate and May's stash of fangs and molars. The sibling relationship between Tate and May is beautiful and moving - I love how supportive and encouraging the older sister is.

My kids are really taken with Tate and her travels, and find Melissa, the fairy-obsessed little girl with whom Tate has a close shave, very funny too. Although we only have this a couple of weeks, it has quickly become one of our favourites. We are counting down the days until Michelle and Briony's next collaboration hits bookshelves. Witch in Training will be published by Walker Books later this year - can't wait!

Why you need it...

This is a fresh and inventive take on the traditional fairy story with magnificent illustrations. As with all the books we own by Michelle Robinson, this features strong female characters and is as funny as it is clever. As with all the books we own by Briony May Smith, the illustrations are amazing. Michelle and Briony create such an intricate, intimate and interesting fairy experience - I can't imagine a child who wouldn't love this book.

About the author:

Michelle Robinson is a prolific author who wrote her first story at the age of five, has published more than 40 children's books and won lots of awards. Michelle Robinson always wanted to be an author like her hero Roald Dahl, but all they had in common was the same birthday and a love of chocolate. We also have Tooth Fairy in Training, She Rex, The World Made a Rainbow, How to Wash a Woolly Mammoth, A Beginner's Guide to Bearspotting, Do Not Disturb the Dragons and Do Not Mess with the Mermaids and love them all. You can see more of Michelle's work on her website.

About the illustrator: Briony May Smith studied Illustration at Falmouth University and was Highly Commended for the Macmillan Children’s book prize in 2013 and 2014. Briony’s work is inspired by fairy tales, folklore and life in the country. Briony has illustrated a number of acclaimed and popular picture books. We love Stardust by Jeanne Willis, and Margaret's Unicorn which Briony wrote as well as illustrated, is one of our all-time favourites. Her first self-penned book was Imelda and the Goblin King, and you can find more of her work on her website.


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