Author: Ariele Nolla
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Source: review copy sent by author
What better day to review a book about toothaches than November 1st? All that Hallowe'en candy is sure to produce at least a few "sugar bugs" on the teeth of little ones (or their moms, who may or may not have snatched a few dozen of those mini candy bars after the kids were in bed...you can't prove a thing). In Penelope's case, her weakness is chocolate, combined with an unfortunate aversion to properly brushing and flossing her teeth. Alas, the result is a terrible toothache and a trip to the dentist and her "gargantuan needle." Luckily, it's only a baby tooth and Penelope is able to have it removed and begin her proper dental care routine in earnest. No more "sugar bugs"!
This book is just the right amount of silly. It's funny but it's not trying too hard; it has a useful message but it's not too preachy. And I love the illustrations! They're funny and ever so slightly wacky, and they make even the "gargantuan needle" seem amusing. Well, almost. But Nolla helpfully adds a note at the end that gargantuan needles have been strictly prohibited from dentists' offices, so children need not worry.
My four-year-old, Magda, had just been to the dentist before Hallowe'en so the concept was fresh in her mind when we read this book. She didn't encounter any needles, but the dentist did warn her about sugar bugs (that's the term they used too). So she found the book pretty true to life. Here's what she had to say:
"It's a funny book but also a bad book. No, not a bad book, but a good book about something bad. It's bad to let sugar bugs get on your teeth and eat your teeth. You have to floss and brush or else you'll get sugar bugs and you'll get a toothache. But the book is really funny. I hope the little girl in the book learned how to floss and brush! I had a piece of candy last night that I got from trick-or-treating, but I brushed my teeth REALLY well!"