Tooth Fairy’s Night: The Story of One Book

Posted January 10th, 2017 by Candice

tooth-fairy-amazon

Today is the launch day of my newest–and first 2017–book, Tooth Fairy’s Night.  It’s a Level 1 Step into Reading, written for the newest readers.  And here is how it came about.

In the spring of 2015, I was restless and in need of “filling the well,” as most long-term career writers must do from time to time.  I went to New York City by myself, not to attend a conference or sign books at a convention (something I hadn’t done in years anyway), but to find my own New York.

I had written two Step into Reading books for Random House, Pumpkin Day and Apple Picking Day.  So I arranged to stop by Random House and met with Heidi and Anna, the SiR editors.  They asked me to write a Level 1 (the hardest!) on the Tooth Fairy.

I gulped.  Fantasy and imaginative writing is not my thing.  All of my books are grounded in reality.  But I have long admired children’s writers who reach for the impossible, who make something out of nothing, who don’t need a bit of research.  I said yes.

From there, I went to the American Museum of Natural History for the first time ever.  My other RH editor, Frances Gilbert, urged me to go and told me I’d be astounded.  She was right.  From the first second I entered the AMNH, I knew I’d found my New York.  I stayed till closing time.  The next day I was there when it opened and again stayed till closing.

The exhibitions in the museum are very much grounded in the real world, but it took the imagination of many naturalists, scientists, and artists to make this one of the most famous, and most attended, museum in the world.

As I roamed the halls, I thought about my assignment.  What about the Tooth Fairy?  The practical side of me compared her to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny who only work one night a year.  The Tooth Fairy, however, works every night.  And she doesn’t have a bunch of elves to help her!

The Tooth Fairy, I decided, was a shift worker.  She carried a lunch box (union rules state she must take a break).  She had to pack her supplies.  She had to feed her pet.  Before she left her cottage, she checked to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything.

And off she went to work.

Meanwhile, back at home in Candice’s Office/Workshop (also without elves), I got ready to go to Hollins for a summer of teaching.  After I’d been at Hollins a week or so, my SiR editor asked how the Tooth Fairy book was coming.

I gulped.  It wasn’t coming at all.  I hadn’t even started it!  Random House would like the book to come out in time for Dental Health Month in 2017.  But if I couldn’t do it, my editor assured me, then 2018 would be okay.

What would the Tooth Fairy do?  She never slacked off because she was busy with something else.  Nope, she showed up, every single night because it was her job and she couldn’t disappoint all those children.

I told my editor she’d have a manuscript by Tuesday.  This was Friday.  Then I stayed in my apartment on campus that weekend and wrote and wrote and wrote.  Draft after draft.  Level 1 readers must rhyme, must use meter, and–clearly–must make sense.

By Monday I had a draft to send to my editor.  It needed work, but we would make our 2017 deadline.  When we were finished, I was thrilled with the story.

Now it’s out with Monique Dong’s cheerful illustrations that show the impossible.

Of all the books I’ve written, this one–and my new picture book coming out this summer–make me feel like a children’s book author.  The kind that can write stories from the imagination.

Update from Monique Dong, illustrator:

“Working on Tooth Fairy’s Night was a dream come true for me as a new illustrator! The story was so sweet and charming and drew me in from the first read. It’s such a creative take on the tooth fairy concept that will delight children for years to come!

I had the wonderful opportunity in this project to work with Random House. They were supportive and encouraging, from the rough sketches through to the final colour. I’m so excited to see this book on the shelves!”

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9 Responses to “Tooth Fairy’s Night: The Story of One Book”

  1. Donna says:

    Congratulations! I always love a good backstory, and this one does not disappoint. Make time to celebrate!

    • Candice says:

      This book is so sparkly and spangly, so not me, that I can’t believe it’s mine! Having hot chocolate and a few cookies this afternoon, as much celebration as I can have.

      Writing this post made me realize how much I miss the AMNH and if I had the money, I’d go to NYC right now, even in this freezing cold.

  2. Nancy Clements says:

    Thanks for taking us along! I enjoyed seeing your thought process and you made me appreciate the grueling schedule the tooth fairy keeps.

  3. Love to hear about how your books come about. And I want to know what reality based have resulted from the visit to the museum.

    • Candice says:

      Caroline: The exhibits in AMNH are real–dioramas of once-live animals, rocks, the planetarium to see real stars. But it took the imagination of Carl Akeley, the man who killed the animals and mounted them so they looked alive (up till then, taxidermy was terrible), put them in life-like poses in life-like settings. The grasses and trees look real but are clever fakes (nearly 100 years old). The landscape at the back of the dioramas are painted from life (artists went to the sites) and painted on a curving grid that allows you to be part of the scene.

      Is it showmanship? Yes, to a degree. But the result is a reality sprung from imagination . . . and viewers believe. That’s what writers aim for, too.

  4. I’m going to get book for Keira. She will be learning ti read and write this year. Plus her first two baby teeth fell out the past couple of weeks. Her first tooth disappeared in a sand pit. The other tooth came out while eating pizza.

    • Candice says:

      Poor Keira, losing a tooth in the sand and another in pizza. At least she didn’t swallow it! I only had two teeth saved for the Tooth Fairy, myself. The first time, it was like a dream come true to get money for a tooth!

  5. Steve Riley says:

    Congratulations on your new book.
    Your trip to New York sounds like fun. I was there years ago, but didn’t get to that museum. Maybe next time. A must see.

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