Saturday, February 28, 2009

Let’s All Celebrate National Tooth Fairy Day

Today - February 28th - is National Tooth Fairy Day.

Everyone knows the Tooth Fairy. This mischievous little fairy is as popular as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. She leaves money for children in exchange for their lost teeth. While this legend is based on the exchange of baby teeth, I have to admit that I did try to get money for a wisdom tooth once. Lesson learned: she isn’t easily fooled.

But where did this popular belief come from? Although similar legendary figures do exist elsewhere in the world, the fairy as we know her is believed to be a totally American phenomenon. She made an appearance in the early 1900s, probably a result of stories brought to America as people immigrated from other countries. Always depicted as a "good fairy", she is still definitely a “fairy with a purpose.” Her popularity has grown steadily over the decades. Today we see her in books, cartoons, greeting cards, dolls, pillows and even TV commercials. The storybook about "The Tooth Fairy", written by Lee Rogow in 1949, may be the first children's story written about the impish little pixie. Her popularity has soared since then, with parents cheerfully embracing the whole idea. Today the tooth fairy is a regular visitor in almost every American family.

What’s the going rate for a tooth? With the passing years, the value of a tooth has increased dramatically. When I was a child, I was thrilled to find a nickel or dime under my pillow. For my kids, the fairy generally left about fifty cents. What’s one teensy baby tooth worth today? My lucky grandchildren have reported as much as five dollars – and a candy bar – for just one little tooth. This fairy doesn’t seem to be affected at all by the problems of our economy.

When I visit schools and libraries to read my fairy books, children always assume that I have a personal relationship with all fairies. Two questions usually arise:

1-What does she do with all those teeth? My answer is always, “Hmmm...What do YOU think she does with them?” Of course the children always have the correct answer.

2- Is the tooth fairy a girl or a boy? The answer is, “It’s a closely guarded secret. What do YOU think?” Again, I always get the correct answer.

If you truly want to know what she really looks like, take a peek at page three of The Knot Fairy. There she is, second fairy from the left.

So, let’s all celebrate her day. Leave some money under the pillow of someone you love. Tell them the Tooth Fairy stopped by just to visit.

Bobbie Hinman

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