"Waiting for her very wiggly tooth to come out so she may use the tooth-fairy money to purchase a birthday present for Papá, a little Latino girl is encouraged by her family to facilitate its extraction with bites of an apple or corn cob and string tied to a doorknob—to no avail. With no dinero , a homemade poetry card will have to do, even as the tooth pops out just in time for the celebration. This youngster receives the best reward for her bright gap-toothed smile—the love and appreciation of her Papá. Elya's clever, singsong rhyme smoothly blends in Spanish vocabulary, signaled in bold within the text. 'Oh, when will I lose it? / I'm hoping— espero — / that it'll be soon, / since I need dinero !' Mattheson's accompanying clean-lined oil illustrations, with their round shapes and bold primary colors, bring a Latin flavor to the scene, although it's regrettable that there is no visual evidence of the loose tooth. A glossary ensures further comprehension, even though the bilingual poemas will provide no problemas . (Picture book. 4-6)"
"Elya, a former Spanish teacher, takes a small moment in time—those several days in which a baby tooth is wiggly and almost ready to come out—and gives it a Spanish-inflected telling. Like her other books in this format, a glossary and a pronunciation guide accompany the story, whose simple stanzas each contain a couple of Spanish words in bold type. In addition to the stubborn tooth, the narrator has another problem: her father’s birthday is tomorrow: 'I have no regalo. / And that’s not a good thing. / Since no gift is malo.' Matheson’s illustrations, in oil paint on primed paper, are vivid and bright, and they capture a cheerful world where such obstacles are certain to be overcome. The child may despair that the tooth fairy will not arrive in time to finance a gift, but she is resourceful and creative, and she even copes when the puppies she is bathing for money become unruly. The last page—featuring a smiling father embracing a daughter who now has a tooth missing from her grin—is satisfyingly sweet". — Abby Nolan
The News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington)
"The biggest issue facing most of today's first-and second graders is the same one that put their moms, dads, grandparents and great-grandparents in a flurry. Wiggly teeth. Who could concentrate on politics or the stock market with a tooth dangling by a tender shred of gum. One unthinking bite of PB&J and a valuable tooth fairy commodity is down the gullet...'Tooth on the Loose' by Susan Middleton Elya, is written in rhyme with Spanish words peppered throughout. The narrator of this tale is anxious to lose her wiggly tooth because her Papá's birthday is the next day and she has no money for a present. Members of her family suggest various solutions, both for extricating the tooth and for a gift. In a satisfying conclusion on both counts, the gift ends up being the best kind-one from the heart. And the tooth pops out during the birthday dinner. The story is fun to read aloud. Most of the Spanish meanings can be gleaned from context and illustration. But there's also a glossary and pronunciation guide. Elya has written other books that incorporate Spanish vocabulary into verse, including 'F is for Fiesta' and 'Oh No, Gotta Go.' Jenny Mattheson's oil paintings are charming and cheerful." -Rebecca Young
Parenting on the Peninsula
"'Tooth on the Loose' by Danville writer Susan Middleton Elya is a delightful, Spanish-sprinkled rhyming story about a little girl who wants to lose her wiggly tooth in time for the tooth fairy to finance a gift for her papa's birthday. Big brother suggests he yank it out, but she refuses and would rather hunt for coins in the sofa, walk and bathe neighborhood dogs. 'But most of the pets were unruly mascotas, and money I earned went to pay for things rotas.' 'Mascotas' are pets and 'rotas' means broken we learn in the glossary of thirty-nine Spanish words in the front of the the book. Spanish words are bolded in text and help create imaginative, funny verses. In the end, the resourceful heroine creates the perfect gift for her papá and then loses her tooth. 'Papá showed me how to drink leche with style with a straw through the hole that was now in my smile.' Jenny Mattheson's colorful, inviting illustrations and Elya's bouncy verse make 'Tooth on the Loose' Spanish-English fun." -Caryn Huberman Yacowitz, May 2009
Prince William Public Library System
"PreS-K, A young girl laments that her wiggly tooth will not fall out soon enough to enable her to collect tooth fairy money to buy a birthday gift for Papá. The rhyming story includes a mix of Spanish words within the English-language context–'I needed that tooth out/today, not mañana ./But yanking? Too painful./I tried a manzana.' The cheerful illustrations rendered in oil using a palette with shades of orange and rust show a delightful extended family willing to help the child with her problem. Traditional foods such as avocados, tamales, and tortillas decorate the birthday table as the congenial family gathers to celebrate. Young children will be able to relate to the simple, yet realistic, conclusion to the tale. A basic glossary, with pronunciation guide, precedes the text. This will be a welcome addition for both bilingual children and those who are looking to expand and reinforce their basic Spanish vocabulary." –Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas , VA