Jenny Berry got as close to her wardrobe mirror as she could and looked at her front teeth. They were the same teeth that she’d had for as long as she could remember and she was fed up with them. All her friends at school had at least four new grown-up teeth and she still had nothing but baby teeth. In fact Susie Flint was in her class and she had eight grown-up teeth. And why did they call them baby teeth anyway? Her brother Wills was a baby and he didn’t have any teeth at all. She pressed her finger against her front teeth, first the top and then the bottom. Then she pressed her bottom teeth again. And again. No, she wasn’t imagining it, one of her bottom teeth was wobbly! She picked up her school bag and ran downstairs and into the kitchen as fast as she could. Grandma Lily looked up to see what all the noise was about:
‘My goodness, Jenny, is you tail on fire?’
Grandma Lily always said things like that. Jenny said that her tail wasn’t on fire because she didn’t have a tail. And did grandma know where mummy was because she wanted her to feel her tooth. Because it was definitely wobbly!
‘At last, a wobbly tooth,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Mummy will be back in a minute. She’s just nipped out to the car to fetch your Wellies.’
Sure enough the door opened and Mrs Berry carried Jenny’s Wellington Boots into the kitchen: ‘Jenny,’ she said, ‘Grandma’s driving you to school today, so hurry up and eat your breakfast. And you’d better take your Wellingtons in because it’s going to rain this afternoon and …’
‘Mum, I think one of my bottom teeth is wobbly!’ interrupted Jenny.
Mrs Berry put Jenny’s boots beside the door and walked over to investigate. She pressed Jenny’s tooth: ‘Yes, I think you might be right!’
‘Mum, how long do you think it will take to fall out properly?’
‘Two or three weeks, probably. And no pulling it! It will come out on its own, when it’s ready. And then you’ll have a shiny new one just waiting to take its place.’
Grandma Lily stepped over to take a look for herself. She told Jenny that eating breakfast would help loosen a wobbly tooth and that she should take care not to swallow it because she needed to put it under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy.
Jenny laughed. And then she hurried to eat her cornflakes.
On the way into school Jenny checked her tooth several times. She thought about the Tooth Fairy. She wasn’t sure she believed in fairies any more. Her best friend Emily said they were real but Susan Flint said fairies was just one of those things that grown-ups made up to make you behave yourself. It was always worth asking Grandma what she thought about things like that:
‘Grandma, do you think fairies are true?’
Grandma Lily gave the kind of answer that Grandma Lily always gave: ‘Good gracious, Jenny, I’m only sixty years old. That’s not old enough to know whether fairies are true!’
Jenny frowned: ‘But, grandma, if fairies are true, why would there be a special Tooth Fairy?’
‘Well,’ said Grandma Lily, ‘we have a special tooth doctor, don’t we. That we call a dentist.’
Jenny thought about that and there was no arguing with it. But she continued to frown: ‘OK, grandma, but why do the fairies collect teeth and leave you money instead? Why do they want your fallen-out teeth?’
‘I suppose they must need them for some kind of magic,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘And it wouldn’t be fair to take them and leave nothing in return, would it? It’s good and fair that they pay for them. That’s probably why we call them fairies.’
Jenny smiled because she thought that Grandma Lily was very good at thinking up answers.
Two weeks passed and Jenny waited patiently for her tooth to fall out. It got wobblier and wobblier. And she thought that perhaps the one next to it was becoming wobbly too. And then one morning Jenny was eating her porridge and she felt something small and hard, loose inside her mouth. It was her baby tooth at last! She plopped it out onto her hand and looked at it. She grabbed a paper tissue and wiped it clean then she showed her mother. Her mum told her to put her tooth somewhere safe until after school and would she hurry up or else she’d be late. So, after breakfast, Jenny wrapped her baby tooth in a fresh tissue and ran into the lounge and placed her wrapped-up tooth on the bookcase. She put it on the third shelf up, right in front of her father’s big, old dictionary so that she would know where it was. Then she grabbed her school things and hurried out to the car.
It was Grandma Lily’s turn to pick Jenny up from school that day. Straightaway Jenny showed her the gap in her teeth where her baby tooth used to be and where she could feel her new grown-up tooth just waiting to pop through. Jenny told Grandma that her best friend Emily had said that the fairies pay one pound coin for every tooth you leave for them and that the very best thing to do was to put your tooth under your pillow that night and see what happens. Grandma nodded wisely and said: ‘Yes, that’s probably best.’
Jenny could see Grandma Lily smiling at her in the driving mirror. Then suddenly she had a thought: ‘Grandma, are there other teeth that come after these new ones?’
‘Oh no, Jenny, when your new grown-up teeth grow through, they are the ones that have to last you forever. I still have the same teeth that I had when I was at school. And I’m not going to get any more. So, you see, your new teeth are going to have to last until you are even older than me’
Jenny gasped: ‘Grandma, that’s a really long time for teeth to last!’
Grandma Lily laughed: ‘Yes it is. So you can see how important it is to look after your new teeth and keep them clean and not eat too many sticky sweets. Because teeth really do not like sticky sweets.’
As soon as they arrived home Jenny ran into the lounge to fetch her tooth. She hurried over to the bookcase. But, oh dear, her wrapped-up tooth wasn’t there! And neither was Mr Berry’s big, old dictionary! Jenny looked right along the third shelf up, and then she looked along all the other shelves she could reach. She looked on the floor, under her father’s armchair and even under the table with the lamp on it. But her tooth wasn’t anywhere. It was LOST. Jenny ran into the kitchen. Her mother and grandma looked up to see what all the fuss was about.
‘Mummy, my tooth is LOST. I put it on the bookcase in front of Daddy’s old dictionary and now they’re both gone. Why is daddy’s dictionary gone? It’s always there! And where’s my tooth?’
Jenny’s mother sighed: ‘Oh dear, Mrs Evans next door was collecting books for the Jumble Sale. And I gave it to her.’
Jenny gasped: ‘You gave my tooth to the Jumble Sale?’
‘No, of course not, Jenny! I gave the old dictionary to the Jumble Sale. But I don’t remember seeing your tooth on the bookcase. I’m sure I would have noticed it.’
‘But mum, it was wrapped in a tissue.’ Jenny wandered over to the kitchen table and sank into one of the chairs. She looked cross and miserable. It would probably be ages before her next tooth fell out and she wanted to see if it was true about the Tooth Fairy. Grandma Lily pulled out a chair and sat down beside her. Jenny frowned at her. ‘It’s not fair,’ she complained. ‘How can I put my tooth under the pillow if it’s LOST.’
Grandma Lily thought for a moment and then she said: ‘Did your friend Emily say that under the pillow was the only place fairies look for unwanted teeth. Perhaps you can also leave them on bookshelves. Perhaps it’s already been collected.’
‘Grandma, Emily said the Tooth Fairy comes when you’re asleep.’
‘Well, perhaps today the magic couldn’t wait,’ said Mrs Berry.
‘But there wasn’t any money there instead of it. There was just a big space where the big dictionary used to be. It’s hopeless!’
‘Nothing’s completely hopeless, Jenny,’ said Grandma Lily. Why don’t you go upstairs and do your homework and leave me and mummy to work out a tooth plan. I’ll bring you a piece of chocolate cake.’
So Jenny went to her room and tried not to think about her lost tooth. Very soon Grandma Lily came up to join her and she brought chocolate cake and milkshake with her, which made Jenny feel much better. Jenny was very hungry and she finished her cake in no time. Grandma sat on the bed beside her and watched her scraping up the last of the crumbs from her plate.
‘I’m glad to see that you haven’t lost your appetite as well as your tooth!’ said Grandma Lily.
Jenny handed her the empty plate: ‘Have you thought of a tooth plan yet, Grandma?’
‘Almost,’ answered Grandma Lily. ‘But let’s deal with the important things first! How is your homework coming along?’
‘It was easy,’ said Jenny. ‘It was just ten money sums and I’ve done them already. Teacher says I’m very good at working out money.’ Then Jenny looked very serious: ‘But she probably wouldn’t think that if she knew I’d lost my pound coin, would she?’
‘Oh dear, have you lost a pound coin as well?’ said Grandma Lily, looking very surprised.
‘Yes,’ said Jenny. ‘I’ve lost the pound coin that the fairies were going to give me for my tooth.’
‘But, Jenny, you can’t lose something that you haven’t been given yet, can you? It was only a pound coin that you might have had. So it can’t be lost.’
Jenny folded her arms and frowned. She knew there was no point in disagreeing with Grandma Lily about things like that. No point at all! But then she noticed her grandma smiling at her: ‘Have you thought of a tooth plan, grandma?’ asked Jenny.
‘Yes I have,’ said Grandma Lily. ‘Now, it seems to me that the best thing you can do is to put a note under your pillow to explain what has happened. As far as I know, fairies are very reasonable small creatures. So what you need to do is to tell the Tooth Fairy, that if the fairies haven’t already found your tooth then the best place for them to look for it would be in the place where the lost things hide.’
Jenny put her head to one side: ‘Do you mean the Tooth Fairy should look in Raggedy Lyme, Grandma?’
‘Yes, the fairies are bound to know about Raggedy Lyme because it’s a magical place. You see, Jenny, there’s only two things that could have happened to your tooth. Either it’s already been taken by the fairies, or it’s hiding along with all the other LOST things.’
Jenny thought about this for a moment. Then she smiled: ‘What shall I say in the note?’
‘Why don’t you write out the rhyme. In your best writing.’
‘Will you help me write it, Grandma?’
‘Of course I will.’
So Jenny drank her milkshake and then she found a piece of paper from her writing set and grandma helped her write out this rhyme:
‘There’s a space in a place called Raggedy Lyme,
Full of errors and terrors and wasted time,
Where your LOST things can hide, until they decide,
That you’ve earned their return from Raggedy Lyme.’
When it was finished, Jenny folded the note neatly. Then she put it in a matching envelope and wrote “to the tooth fairy” across the front of it. She put the envelope under her pillow for later then Jenny and Grandma Lily went downstairs to see if supper was ready. They discovered Mrs Berry serving roast chicken and Mr Berry sitting at the table, reading his old dictionary. Grandma Lily sat down beside him and smiled:
‘Why, Mr Berry, I thought that old book of yours had gone to the Jumble Sale.’
‘When I told him I’d given it away, he went next door and asked Mrs Evans if he could buy it back,’ explained Jenny’s mother.
‘It’s a very good dictionary,’ insisted Mr Berry.
‘But, Daddy,’ said Jenny. ‘You never look at it. You always look up the words you don’t know on your computer.’
‘Yes, Jenny,’ said her father. ‘But what happens if the electricity goes off or the computer stops working. How would I look up my words then?’
Jenny looked at Grandma Lily and smiled.
Before Jenny went to sleep that night, she checked that the Raggedy Lyme rhyme was still safe under her pillow. And first thing the next day she checked it again. In fact she lifted up her whole pillow. But … can you guess? The rhyme wasn’t there. Something else was there instead: a shiny pound coin. Jenny snatched it up and hurried downstairs to show her mother.
‘Mummy, look what I found under my pillow!’
‘Well, well,’ said Jenny’s mum. ‘Just wait until we tell grandma. I’m sure she’ll have something to say about that.’
And Jenny knew that she would.