Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 11, 2020


For those of you who love to read the book journeys. I am running this book feature again, since it somehow it posted last week without the journey. Take a look.

Brooke Hecker’s debut picture book, LETTER’S FROM MY TOOTH FAIRY, Illustrated by Deborah Melmon and published by Sleeping Bear Press came out last month. Sleeping Bear Press has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Brooke and Deborah!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


One special rite of passage in childhood is the loss of the first baby tooth. For many children it’s an exhilarating time, while for others the trauma of the first “gap” is cause for mortification. And the journey of losing those baby teeth is not a speedy one–it lasts for nearly six years! In Letters From My Tooth Fairy, Natalie and her devoted tooth fairy exchange letters, asking and answering questions about some of childhood’s most important moments. From the loss of her first tooth as a first grader to losing her last two baby teeth as a confident eleven-year-old, Natalie’s early milestones, including bad school pictures and best friend troubles, are lovingly told through this epistolary relationship. Readers of all ages–those with baby teeth and those years beyond–will cheer for Natalie as she experiences the highs and lows of this time of life. Energetic, colorful artwork perfectly captures the magic of this toothsome tale, making us all wish for our very own tooth fairy.


Letters from My Tooth Fairy is my first book. I had loved to write as a child, particularly things that would make my friends and family laugh, like parodies for TV theme songs, fake newspapers from the perspective of my pets, or a Mad Magazine about my middle school, that I would hand draw and photo-copy at my dad’s office, and then distribute to my classmates. (I recently found an issue of my Middle School Mad Magazine and it holds up!) My parents encouraged my writing, and I had no doubt that one day I would write for my school paper, major in creative writing in college, and more.

When I was in 7th grade, I wrote what I considered to be a “serious” poem about soldiers in the first Gulf War and it was published in the all-school literary magazine. I was so proud and couldn’t wait to come home and show my parents. Later that day at softball practice, I was still on cloud nine, when an older, popular teammate saw my poem, and decided to read it aloud to the entire team. My pride quickly turned to embarrassment, as I realized that she was making fun of me. I can still feel the heat on my cheeks as she laughed and laughed at what I meant to be a mournful and considerate piece of writing. Without giving it much thought, I didn’t write again after that day. I didn’t try out for the school paper. I didn’t take creative writing courses. I never submitted anything else to the literary magazine. I never even put out another issue of Middle School Mad Magazine. Eventually I would make a career working in marketing for a series of cable television networks and I honestly didn’t think much about writing at all.

Cut to twenty five years later, and my daughter Natalie rather dramatically lost her first tooth after falling off the monkey bars at school. She had damaged her top front incisor and the dentist had to pull it out. She was very brave, and received a letter the next morning from the Tooth Fairy that was funny and sweet, and very specific to Natalie’s “heroic story.” As she lost more teeth, the letters continued, and the universe of the Tooth Fairy expanded to include other Tooth Fairies, like when she lost teeth on vacation or on a sleepover. Those letters, combined with Natalie’s own letters to the Tooth Fairy, reflected her growth and development, while following her, and our family, from her pre-reading kindergarten days, to middle school and the brink of adolescence.

Along the way, I was sending each letter to friends and family, and my mother kept telling me that I should turn these into a book. I liked the idea of getting a window into someone’s childhood, all through this relatively specific lens of the Tooth Fairy. In the background of Natalie’s Tooth Fairy letters, you were witnessing all of these milestones in her life – getting a new sibling, moving, and going to sleep away camp, and you also saw some of her everyday childhood concerns, like worrying about looking different, or being jealous of a friend. My mother was right, it was a good idea, but I was not a writer. What business did I have trying to write my first book at 40 years old?

Still, the idea stuck with me, and for about a year, it nagged at me in the back of my mind. I have a friend who writes fiction and she asked around about the pitching process for picture books. The consensus was that for a picture book, I needed to write the entire manuscript before pitching it to an agent. I was advised that the book should cover all twenty childhood teeth, so I talked to my cousin who is an oral surgeon so that I could understand the general age range and order of losing teeth. I wanted to include some educational facts in the book, such as tracking the various kinds of teeth, as well as answer some common questions that kids (and parents) tend to worry about. I remembered that when I got braces, I needed my last molars to be pulled out, and I wanted that to be where the book ended.

Once I had the age range down, I used a list of the twenty childhood teeth as my outline, loosely assigned ages to each, and started to fill in the outline with the real letters that Natalie received from the Tooth Fairy. I probably had six “real” letters at the time, and started brainstorming ideas for the rest. I also fictionalized the existing real letters, and in some cases, divided them into separate teeth: for example, her first tooth was knocked loose at school, and then eventually pulled out by the dentist, which I divided up into three letters – one for her first tooth, one for getting a tooth knocked out at school, and one for getting a tooth pulled by the dentist. Funnily enough, some of the fake letters, like Moving, and Blizzard, ended up becoming real scenarios for Natalie, after I had written them as fiction.

After completing a full draft, I was lucky to work with the agent Elana Roth Parker from Laura Dail Literary Agency. Elana spent a few months with me going back and forth with notes, and we ended up cutting several “Letters”, revising others, and replacing some scenarios with all new ones. Throughout this time, Natalie continued to lose more teeth, so I was able to swap out fictionalized letters with new concepts that I had never even considered before, such as swallowing a tooth. The Swallowed Tooth letter is now one of my favorites, and just the other day, my nephew swallowed his loose tooth while eating breakfast.

Once Elana sold the book to Sleeping Bear Press, I worked with the fantastic editor Barb McNally, and she contracted a very talented and experienced illustrator named Deborah Melmon. I am not an illustrator, and it is a bit nerve wracking to hand off your book to a stranger to do the artwork. I waited anxiously to see how it would all get translated onto the page, and when I first saw Deborah’s art work, I was moved to tears. She captured the love, spirit, and humor of the book in ways that I never thought possible. My favorite illustration is her Tooth Fairy Times newspaper from the Knocked Out letter. It is clever and detailed and hilarious, and took me right back to my Middle School Mad Magazine days and the joys I had writing as a kid, and the future that I now see for myself as a writer.


Brooke Hecker is an author and marketing executive in New York City. She has two daughters, and she sometimes secretly reads their books after they’ve gone to sleep.

Brooke’s debut children’s book Letters from My Tooth Fairy will be released on August 15, 2020, and is based off of the real letters that her daughters have received from their actual Tooth Fairies. Hopefully their Tooth Fairies don’t mind!


Deborah Melmon was featured on Illustrator this Saturday. Over the last ten years, Deborah has illustrated over fifty children’s books which include picture books, readers, and board books. As a free-lance artist, she has also designed greeting cards, gift wrap and fabric. She graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and continued to live in the Bay Area with a nutty terrier named Mack.

My illustration process is a hybrid of pencil sketches, hand-painted backgrounds and textures which I scan into Photoshop and then manipulate digitally. This gives me the ability to submit high resolution art in layers and to also make alterations to the art quickly. I love to create work that is fun and engaging for kids with lots of details and humor.

Brooke thank you for sharing your book and its journey with us. I have a copy of the book and it is great! It is a fun story and the illustrations are perfectly fun, too. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. What a great story journey. Congratulations, Brooke and Deborah!


  2. Wonderful story!


  3. I love how the voices comes through in the exchange of letters. Such a clever way to approach a tooth fairy story! Congratulations, Brooke!

    Kathy, I shared on twitter and I get your blog post daily.


  4. This is such a clever book! Congratulations!

    I think I commented the other day, but I will share this on Twitter and I follow by email. 🙂


  5. This book will surely loved by kids! I love how you portray the images/graphics of the book. Thanks for sharing!


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