LANGLEY — What if the Tooth Fairy met Santa Claus?
Barb DeMartino was inspired to write a children’s book about their meeting when her 6-year-old grandson lost a tooth on Christmas Eve last year.
“He showed me he had a lost tooth, and he told me the Tooth Fairy came,” she said. “I said, ‘Santa came last night, too, right? What are the chances of the two of them meeting?’”
A retired school teacher, DeMartino, of Langley, had always wanted to write a book.
She taught in the Lake Elsinore Unified School District for 35 years in Southern California, teaching an intensive intervention reading class for her last 10 years at Terra Cotta Middle School before retiring about three years ago.
DeMartino, now 64, was saddened to learn that her students were living in bookless households in which they’d never had a loved one read to them.
“Reading in the classroom was the only taste they got of it,” she said. “Eighth graders, they’re not too young to be read to. They begged me to read to them every day.”
So she made it her mission to instill a love of reading into each of her students — and that included writing a chapter book meant for them.
But, thanks to Jamo’s lost tooth, DeMartino’s first book is geared for kids 4 to 8.
“I had a few book ideas that I’ve been wanting to write for a while — I wanted to complete my teaching career and do it when I’m retired — but this one took precedence. Oh my gosh, it was too much fun to have the Tooth Fairy meet Santa Claus. I just started writing it right then and there.”
In “Tooth Fairy’s Jolly Adventure,” the Tooth Fairy stumbles into Santa on Christmas Eve. When they both encounter a problem, each figures how to help the other out. Not only do Santa and the Tooth Fairy get their jobs done, they also become friends.
She wrote the manuscript in just three days — although it took about a year to get the book published.
DeMartino teamed up with an illustrator from Nifty Illustrations based in New Zealand to develop the Tooth Fairy’s character.
“Creating her look was such a kick,” DeMartino said. “I wanted an unconventional Tooth Fairy, so we came up with her having blue hair and a bit of spunk.
“Since she would be meeting Santa in the snow on a rooftop, I didn’t want her in typical fairy shoes,” she added. “This is wintertime, and she needs to be in boots.”
Nifty Illustrations has also illustrated such children’s books as “Sunny the Animal Whisperer” by Benjamin Stevens, “Kentucky Homegrown Tales” by Troy Cobb, and “The Boo Boo Elf” by Ani Desai and Sandy Desai.
DeMartino visited Jamo, now 7, recently and surprised him by reading the book he inspired to him. It’s extra special because when the Tooth Fairy and Santa meet on a rooftop, the boy they are both visiting is named Jamo.
The Langley author has a follow-up book to “Tooth Fairy’s Jolly Adventure” in the works. The next one, titled “Tooth Fairy’s Hoppin’ Adventure,” has the same Tooth Fairy meeting the Easter Bunny. Her granddaughter Alli, 9, Jamo’s sister, will be the star of this book.
“Since I have six grandchildren, I may be busy for a while,” DeMartion said with a laugh. She is working on ideas for books featuring all of them. In addition to Jamo and Alli, there’s Morgan, 13, Rhyder, 8, T.J., 7, and Maddy, 7.
After she finishes her Tooth Fairy books, DeMartino wants to write that chapter book she’s been meaning to write for middle-grade readers.
“I’m just proud of her,” said Dan DeMartino, Barb’s husband. “I think her work ethic is incredible. She gets something in her mind and goes with it.
“She’s been wanting to do this ever since we’ve been together.”
Barb DeMartino said writing the book about the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus has been a fun distraction, especially during the pandemic.
If it weren’t for COVID-19, she’d be visiting classrooms and scheduling readings to promote the book.
DeMartino is already looking forward to the next holiday season. The hope is that COVID-19 will be gone, and she’ll finally be able to read her Christmas book to children.
If you’re a last-minute shopper, it’s not too late to order “Tooth Fairy’s Jolly Adventure.” The book is available at Linds on Whidbey, Target, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Herald features editor Sara Bruestle contributed to this story.