Bob Graham, The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story, Walker Books Australia, October 2019, 40pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781406387612
Bob Graham’s illustrations are instantly recognisable in his new picture book, The Underhills: A Tooth Fairy Story. It’s a quirky tale about the Underhills, a family of tooth fairies. When Mummy and Daddy are called away on an urgent mission, fairy-children Esme, April and Vincent are sent to stay with their beloved grandparents. During their stay, another urgent job comes in so April, Esme and Grandma head to the airport to collect Kumi’s milk tooth.
For an children’s title, the characters are very well-developed: it is clear that Grandpa is somewhat of a philosopher, Grandma is the stereotypical doting grandparent, and Mum and Dad are—despite their magical powers—dealing with the same issues are their human counterparts (including unexpected overtime).
I particularly enjoyed the references to the human world, such as flight announcements and putting phones on speaker—some may go over children’s heads, but parents will enjoy them all! Similarly, the author seamlessly incorporates a reference to a family of Cupids who are also working at the airport. Other touches such as little Vincent being tied to a string so he doesn’t drift away are very cute and create an air of realism, despite the mythical nature of the main characters.
Although the illustrations dominate each page, the text is still quite long, so it may not be appropriate for bedtime unless you are very firm about how many pages you’ll read. The large text will allow for confident readers to have a go, and I would suggest this title is appropriate for ages 4—8 (and perhaps a bit older depending on belief in fairyland!).
Reviewed by Jessica Dowling