Toot Fairy

Brian W. Donnelly

Publisher: Mythographer's Workshop Pages: 30 Price: (hardcover) $16.99 ISBN: 9780578729190 Reviewed: October, 2020

A young fairy with lactose intolerance learns that what makes her “weird” can also save the day.

On the first day of tooth fairy school, Irma gets a stern warning: “‘Now, Irma’ mom scolded, ‘you must always be wary./ Remember you’re different!/ So nothing with dairy!’” But Irma, trying to fit in, ignores the advice and consumes the milk and crackers given out on the school bus. She subsequently embarrasses herself by loudly passing gas. Enraged, her teacher tells her she might as well give up, because such a loud and smelly fairy can’t possibly pass the tests—including the silence needed to avoid waking the children—required to be a tooth fairy.

The teacher’s warning is prescient: Irma does indeed fail tooth fairy school. But on the last day, she’s swept up in a sudden emergency call: the fairies at the site of a tooth pick-up can’t fly high enough to reach a top-floor apartment. The teacher realizes an opportunity and gives Irma a quart of milk. Irma’s subsequent flatulence lifts her into the air and to the girl’s room, where she successfully trades the tooth for cash.

Fun, polished illustrations elevate this book and give Irma’s story professional panache. The rhyming meter of the narrative is also entertaining and energetic, although the beat is sometimes uneven.

Unfortunately, the final two lines seem misguided. The tale ends with the reminder, “Just because you are different/ does not mean you will fail.” But some readers will rightly point out that Irma did fail in every other situation. A more resonant conclusion might focus, instead, on the idea that every person has value, regardless of—and sometimes because of— their differences. Giving Irma more agency (it’s her teacher rather than Irma who realizes the girl’s potential) would also make the story more powerful.

Despite such drawbacks, young readers will certainly enjoy this book’s offbeat protagonist, her giggle-inducing problem and her ultimate triumph.