Erin Danielle Russell is the co-author of the New York Times best-selling Dork Diaries. How to Trick the Tooth Fairy is her first picture book. Today, I’m excited to talk with her about how How to Trick the Tooth Fairy came about, writing space, and her favorite pranks.
What inspired you to write How to Trick the Tooth Fairy?
How to Trick the Tooth Fairy is inspired by my childhood. It’s a book I would’ve wanted to read as a child because I’d always wanted to meet the Tooth Fairy and become friends with her. My character, Kaylee, is basically living my dream!
Can you talk a little about the journey to getting How to Trick the Tooth Fairy published?
Funny story, but the idea for How to Trick the Tooth Fairy came to me when was sick with the flu. I was stuck in bed with nothing to do, so I wrote the first draft for fun in a notebook. Later, I polished it, submitted it to my literary agent, found an amazing illustrator, named Jennifer Hansen Rolli, to bring my book to life, and the rest is history!
Losing that first tooth is such a rite of passage for kids, with celebrations at school and the fun surrounding the Tooth Fairy or other traditions at home. Do you remember losing your first tooth?
I do remember losing my first tooth and my first Tooth Fairy visit! I was super excited to find money under my pillow where my tooth had been. And, the best part was seeing the trail of glittery fairy dust across my bedroom floor! It was solid evidence to me that the Tooth Fairy and magic were real, and I became a total Tooth Fairy fangirl after that!
Do you like to pull pranks? What was your favorite kind of prank?
I was a little prankster when I was Kaylee’s age, and owned a whoopee cushion, hand buzzer, invisible ink, and fake bugs. The whoopee cushion was my favorite!
What’s the best part about being an author for young readers?
The best part about being an author for young readers is making them laugh and showing them that reading can be fun. I’m a bookworm to this day because I fell in love with the picture books my parents read to me as a kid. I hope I can inspire young readers to love books like I do.
What was your favorite picture book when you were a child?
There are so many wonderful picture books to choose from! But, if I have to narrow it down to one, I’d say Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, because Harold could turn all his ideas into reality, and I wanted that ability too. I even drew on my bedroom walls with a purple crayon to be like him, but that wasn’t such a good idea. Lol!
Do you have a special place that you like to write? Can you describe it a little?
I’m not much of a desk person, so my favorite place to write is in my bed because it’s comfy and cozy. I just prop up a few pillows, light a scented candle, and I’m in my happy writing place!
What’s up next for you?
I’m currently working on a second picture book and a middle grade book. After writing How to Trick the Tooth Fairy, I’d love to write more fantasy.
What is your favorite holiday?
My favorite holiday is Christmas. I love the festivities, music, food and how magical it was for me as a child.
Do you have an anecdote from any holiday that you’d like to share?
Some of my favorite Christmas memories revolve around picture books. I loved reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, and The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. When I was eight, I even wrote and illustrated my own picture book in a spiral notebook about a girl, named Melody, who helped Santa Claus deliver Christmas presents all over the world on Christmas Eve.
Thanks so much for chatting! I wish you all the best with How to Trick the Tooth Fairy and all of your books!
You can find How to Trick the Tooth Fairy at these booksellers
You can connect with Erin Danielle Russell on
National Smile Month Review
About the Holiday
First celebrated in Britain in 1977, this holiday has been embraced by other countries around the world. The aim of the holiday is to promote awareness of good oral health through teeth brushing and flossing, cutting down on sugary sweets, and seeing your dentist regularly. Healthy teeth lead to a bright smile, and smiles lead to feeling better and enjoying life more!
How to Trick the Tooth Fairy
Written by Erin Danielle Russell | Illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli
Kaylee seemed born to pull pranks. Her eyes sparkled with mischief, she knew how to creep up on people unawares, she was cute and smart, and April Fool’s Day was her favorite holiday. There was never a time when Kaylee wasn’t pulling or planning pranks. But there was actually someone else who was a bigger trickster than Kaylee—the Tooth Fairy.
The Tooth Fairy, with her “smirky smile, fairy wings for a quick getaway”, and bag full of more tricks than teeth, was the reigning “prank princess.” But when the Tooth Fairy flew into Kaylee’s room to retrieve her tooth, she reached under the pillow and pulled out a… toy frog. There was only one thing for the Tooth Fairy to do—leave real frogs in her wake. For Kaylee, this meant “Game on!”
To make amends, Kaylee baked up a berry (and hot sauce) pie and gave the Tooth Fairy a piece. With her mouth on fire, the Tooth Fairy retaliated with an a la ice cream mess. Kaylee grabbed the sprayer to wash off the whipped cream and sprinkles but “turned it on the Tooth Fairy” instead. A wave of the Tooth Fairy’s wand turned those water droplets into cats and dogs. The sudden downpour scared Kaylee, and she ran for the closet. The Tooth Fairy hadn’t meant to scare Kaylee so she went to find her. Kaylee was ready with a slingshot and a wad of gum.
Things got sticky, and in the battle, the Tooth Fairy’s magic wand split apart. “And if you know anything about tooth fairies, you know a broken wand means… Topsy-Turvy Tooth Fairy Trouble!” Kaylee and the Tooth Fairy cowered under the table as swirling clouds and lightning sent everything in the kitchen flying. When things settle down, Kaylee looked at the Tooth Fairy and the Tooth Fairy looked at Kaylee.
“Kaylee had one more trick up her pajama sleeve.” She and the Tooth Fairy used the sprayer to clean up the floor and the bubble gun to fix the wand. They sent the cats and dogs soaring back into the sky with little umbrellas and the frogs hopping happily into the yard. Soon the kitchen was shiny and neat again, and Kaylee and the Tooth Fairy shared fairy-dust cookies as Kaylee handed over her lost tooth. That night was just the beginning for “two prank princesses and one new friendship.”
Erin Danielle Russell’s talent for humor and creating feisty heroines is on full, fun display in her rollicking debut picture book. With her vivacious, conversational tone, Russell crafts the camaraderie of a sleepover even as the two pranksternistas try to outwit each other. After their tricks send them both ducking for cover, they discover that they’re kindred spirits and make perfect best friends.
From the glittery cover to the wild, action-packed pages, Jennifer Hansen Rolli conjures up delightfully designed trickery that will charm kids. Rolli sets the stage with examples of Kaylee’s early pranks on her sister and classmates (two of whom are appropriately wary of the chocolate sandwich cookies on offer, while an unsuspecting newcomer is all smiles). Rolli’s rich color pallet enhances the magical atmosphere,and images of a fully laden dessert table, puppies and kittens plummeting into the kitchen, and the Tooth Fairy stuck to the refrigerator with gum will make kids laugh out loud. While mischief is evident in both Kaylee’s and the Tooth Fairy’s eyes, it’s also clear that they understand and like each other, making their battle of wits a playful challenge.
Perfect for reading when a child has lost a tooth, How to Trick the Tooth Fairy is also an original friendship story for any time of year. Children will love keeping the book on hand for repeated readings when the Tooth Fairy is expected.
Ages 4 – 8
Aladdin, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481467322
Discover more about Erin Danielle Russell and her books on her How to Trick the Tooth Fairy website
To learn more about Jennifer Hansen Rolli, her books, and her art, visit her website.
This How to Trick the Tooth Fairy book trailer is sure to make smile!
National Smile Month Activity
Smile for the Tooth Fairy! Maze
The Tooth Fairy is trying to collect a lost tooth! Can you help her find her way?
Picture Book Review