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Tooth by Tooth: Comparing Fangs, Tusks, and Chompers

Sara Levine
Millbrook Press
32 pp.
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Age Range: 4 – 10 years

Grade Level: Kindergarten – 4

What kind of creature would you be if you had two incisors that grew out of your mouth and up toward the sky? Or if you had one long canine tooth that grew through your upper lip? Or if you had no teeth at all? This clever book by Sara Levine, a veterinarian and professor of biology, takes readers on a tour of the types of teeth that one might find among vertebrate animals—with an emphasis on mammals because of their more diverse and interesting dentition. The book begins with human teeth as a reference, encouraging kids to look inside their own mouths, describing what they’ll see there and why. It then moves on to different kinds of teeth, such as tusks, long canines, and tall molars, showing them first incongruously in the mouths of children and asking readers to guess what animal(s) they really belong to, before revealing the answer on the next page. The book packs a lot of information into what feels—thanks to engaging narration by the author and fun collage-like illustrations by the aptly pseudonymed T.S Spookytooth—like a quick and easy read. Teeth are not always for eating, we learn; they can be for digging, defense, and, in the case of the narwhal’s mysterious tusk, maybe even sensory perception. (For younger readers, bear in mind that the text does not shy away from what some of the sharper teeth are designed to do.) Appended at the back of the book are more facts about teeth and a reading list for the dentally curious.