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Mary Downie. Illustrated by Barbara Reid.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1984.
unpaged, paper, $5.95.
ISBN 0-919964-58-3. CIP.

Subject Heading:

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8

Reviewed by Maryleah Otto.

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

Jenny Greenteeth is a whimsical once-upon-a-time story about a lonely old water witch who lives down by Lake Ontario in the Beaches area of Toronto. Regretting her lost youth when she used to braid flowers into her hair and teach the local children to swim, she has turned into a hideous hag with green slimy teeth and mean ways. The tricks she plays on the children have made her the terror of the neighbourhood, and the mayor has ordered her capture. But the policeman and the cadets are too scared, and the fire dog succumbs to a juicy bone tossed out by the wily Jenny. Then along comes young David Smith, the new kid in town, with a secret weapon guaranteed to rid the Beaches of Jenny forever. And just what is this miracle? Well, would you believe toothpaste? Yes indeedy, once poor old Jenny takes a squint in her cracked looking-glass and sees that her pearly whites are no longer covered in green slime, she turns over a new leaf, braids her scraggly tresses, smiles broadly at everyone and becomes coach of the Beaches Water Witches swim team.

Children in grades 2 and 3 will likely enjoy this easy-to-read farce so full of local colour, but the toothpaste device seems oddly out of place. It is not easy to introduce contemporary realism into a traditional storyline bearing elements of fantasy, and Downie, who is better known for her work in poetry and history, just does not seem to have mastered the knack. Barbara Reid's black-and-white drawings are attractive and plentiful. In fact, they almost tell the whole story alone.

Maryleah Otto, Etobicoke P.L., Etobicoke, ON.
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