Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers by Sara Levine (Author), T.S Spookytooth (Illustrator). Millbrook Press. March 1, 2016.

Science, Children’s Nonfiction, (K-3)

Animals have differently shaped teeth for a reason and vet and biologist Levine shows children through a goofy question and answer on the page turn why. Omnivores, herbivores, and carnivores are discussed (a Next Gen Science Standard as well as animal adaptations). The interest level of the writing and the goofiness are right, but the incongruous and unappealing visual design ruin the book. So do the ad-nauseam alternatives to the answer. It’s not really a question and answer if you give “horse or a cow or a giraffe” as an answer and then include 6 more answers in an asterisk section. The illustrations are supposed to be funny, and they are, but they’re also pretty boring. The designer could have more effectively gotten the point across by making clearer illustrations and including the whole group listed as “answers” on the page visually so that children could see how that section of the teeth are similar across the group (see Best Foot Forward by Ingo Arndt for an outstanding version of this).

More about design. The skull picture and illustrated animals should be the same animal. When it asks what you would look like with shark teeth, the answer page has no image of a human in sight (problem). The “More about mammals” section doesn’t discuss teeth at all, so doesn’t need to be in the book. There’s only so much extra information we can take before we’re confused. I like that the illustrations gave a clue to what you would do with large incisors, but they didn’t do it for the other teeth sets (not parallel format). The pictures are way too stylized. I know it’s supposed to be goofy, but the seal doesn’t need a flower headband with a plated dead fish on it. Don’t give kids the wrong idea. The funny parts visually should be the kids with that kind of tooth.

This seemed like a hurried sequel to Bone by Bone. The better book on this topic was listed in its own bibliography: What If You Had Animal Teeth by Sandra Markle.