BY LISA VIALL, VICE PRESIDENT, FRIENDS OF THE BARRINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
My daughter had a history of bad timing when it came to losing teeth. The first one came out as she took a bite of a bagel — at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, as we were waiting to board a flight to Rhode Island to visit my mom. The Tooth Fairy wasn’t coming to Rhode Island, I told her, because the Tooth Fairy doesn’t know where Nana lives. When we returned to Minneapolis, the Tooth Fairy made good.
Once I moved back to Barrington as a single parent, I found myself similarly unprepared for the spontaneity required for Tooth Fairy visits when teeth were lost. I had to invent odd explanations as to why and when the Tooth Fairy made appearances. The Tooth Fairy, my daughter observed, was a bit of a flake.
Of all the things I did with my young daughter, going to the Barrington Public Library was always a favorite. We were regulars at the weekly storytime. I also started taking her to the children’s room, where she loved going. We shopped at the Daily Book Sale, and she checked out books. Prior to attending kindergarten, she checked out the same book at almost every visit: The Three Grumpies by Tamra Wight and Ross Collins.
She came home from school one afternoon and promptly lost a tooth. As usual, I had done no Tooth Fairy prep. While she wasn’t old enough to stay by herself for long periods of time, we had been trying out short times when I could run to my mom’s or to the grocery store — or to the library — so she could practice being by herself. I told her I had to run a quick errand and went straight to the Daily Book Sale to find something suitable for the Tooth Fairy to leave on her bedside table.
The next morning, she found the book. “What’s this?” “How cool!” I said. “The Tooth Fairy brought you a book!”
She looked at the cover: The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko. “Can we read it tonight?”
For a few more years, the Daily Book Sale became the Tooth Fairy’s official shopping place. There were always plenty of book choices that I knew my daughter would enjoy. She has always been a fan of fairy tales and folklore, and there was often at least one there every time I shopped. If I found other books I thought she would enjoy, I would load up and put them somewhere safe for the next Tooth Fairy visit. I had learned my lesson about being prepared.
Now that my daughter is in high school, there are no more visits from the Tooth Fairy, but the Daily Book Sale remains a constant. I’m sure she’s figured out who the actual Tooth Fairy was, but not where all those amazing books had come from. There’s nothing wrong with a little mystery remaining in her childhood.
I wonder if she knows that Santa Claus shops there, too.
This article originally appeared in the Barrington Sound November 2022 issue.