One universal kindergarten and first-grade experience is the loss of a tooth. Or several. And the ones who are lucky enough to lose one are envied by the ones who haven’t lost any. I see multiple open mouths as the have nots attempt to convince me their time is coming.
One book I like to read about this time of year is Albert’s Toothache by Barbara Williams. My edition is quite old with soft penciled drawings by Kay Chorao. Luckily for you, there is a new edition out with color illustrations by Doug Cushman. Although I love the original’s delightful illustrations, they’re not quite as eye-catching as Doug Cushman’s when read to a large group. It’s all about the addition of color.
Albert claims he has a toothache. His father refuses to believe him–after all turtles don’t have teeth. His mother tries food and activities he enjoys to get him out of bed, but Albert’s wail that they never believe him rings true.
Grandmother Turtle arrives to the rescue after Albert has been in bed all day. She promptly tells the entire family the problem is that they never believe Albert and heads off to check on him.
I love her question: “Where do you have a toothache?”
It turns out that the toothache is in his toe. My kids always laugh and we talk about that impossibility before I reveal that Gopher bit him. Then we get to discuss how someone else’s tooth created the ache for Albert and why it’s reasonable for him to call it a ‘toothache’. Albert’s grandmother wraps his toe in a handkerchief, but the most soothing element of the story is that someone believes his tale of woe.
Plus, I discovered a page full of philosophical questions to try with your class.
I’m printing it out and putting it in my files for next year.