Sometimes well-established authors will produce books that would never have been accepted for publication if they had been offered by a person of a lesser reputation. This book is slight even by Munsch standards, yet it may be one of his most appealing.
The text is so minimal that it seems weirdly humble, even self-effacing. Andrew's tooth is at that almost-ready-to-come- out-but-not-quite stage, and the story moves through mother, father, dentist, motorcycle-riding tooth fairy, and best friend as they attempt removal. The rhythmic repetition reveals its oral origins (Munsch workshops his stories innumerable times aloud before massed children before writing them down) and it comes across as merely a framework for the illustrations.
Martchenko has always been the ideal illustrator for Munsch. Here, Munsch seems to be an ideal provider of text for Martchenko. Loony and extravagant, filled with movement and detail, every page is wonderfully hilarious, springboarding off the words into creativity and inventiveness far beyond the possibilities that a lesser imagination than Martchenko's would have perceived. Pouring over each picture yields delight after delight. The father looks remarkably like Munsch used to before he shaved off his beard. Andrew's two sisters, one older and one younger, are both of African ancestry, although Andrew and his parents seem Caucasian. Adoption or adultery? one wonders. Or perhaps this is Mum's fourth marriage. Anyway, the family seems happy enough. The dentist has his phone number (555-TOOTH) inscribed on a giant molar mounted on the roof of his car, and his licence plate reads 007. The tooth fairy is hung about with necklaces and earrings fashioned from the discarded teeth of half the planet's biosphere. And so on.
It is very kind of a megastar like Munsch to allow himself to be so upstaged by his artist. Andrew's Loose Tooth, by Michael Martchenko. Text by Robert Munsch.