Abbey’s Dental Jewel

Our ancestors instinctively knew the importance of phoneme development, prediction, sound patterns and rhythm when learning to speak, read and write, hence we have our nursery rhymes and tongue twisters. Over the years we have backed this with literacy research and development. The classics are a great foundation to any child’s literacy development.

The front cover for the children's story Abbey's Dental Jewel by Mary Catherine Rolston. It features a young girl with glasses showing her teeth, and there is a string attached to one, ready to be pulled out.

The front cover of Abbey’s Dental Jewel

The back cover for the children's story Abbey's Dental Jewel by Mary Catherine Rolston.

The back cover of Abbey’s Dental Jewel

As an elementary school teacher, I found it fascinating why some of us are great spellers and some are not. Throughout my life I have always loved reading, been very strong with oral language and loved writing, YET I am someone who has struggled her whole life with spelling. At times it has been downright embarrassing! I feel for students who battle any struggles in their oral or written expression, in addition to challenges with reading. As a result, I’m passionate about offering students stories that will help them develop their phoneme development, prediction skills, awareness of sound patterns and rhythm and tend to write with rhyme and alliteration.

Available at:

Dazzle's Suggestions

When writing stories, I often look up synonyms and/or words that start with a particular letter or letter sound blend.

Below is an alphabetical list of adjectives (words that describe a noun – a person, place, object or idea) or adverbs (word that modifies verbs) that have both the same sounds and similar meanings. Use these in the following challenges:

  • Make one dinner a week a tongue twister dinner. Each week one person in the family is to challenge the rest of the family with an existing tongue twister, (you can find these in abundance by doing a google search Whoever can say it five times the fastest without a mistake gets extra dessert or treat.
  • Give the first word and ask if the other person can come up with the two other words.
  • Give the three adjectives see if the other person can come up with a noun that fits that description. See if the noun has the same sound. (Slippery Sammy the snake is slick and sneaky). Can they make a sentence?
  • Try using these words to write a rhyming couplet poem (the end of two consecutive lines in the poem end with rhyming words ie. (Shh, Slippery Sammy the snake is slick and slithers silently But booming, banging baboons bounce violently). Assemble these rhyming couplets into a poem or story. A great resource for finding rhyming words is Rhymezone.
  • Attentive: alert, aware, awake
  • Booming: banging, bumping
  • Calm: cool, composed
  • Drab: dingy, dreary, dull
  • Excellent: exceptional, extraordinary
  • Fabulous: fantastic, fanciful
  • Grand: great,
  • Harsh: hard
  • Illusive: illusionary
  • Jumpy: jittery
  • Knaggy: knarred
  • Loud: lurid
  • Mighty: magnificent, marvellous
  • New: novel
  • Obscure: opaque
  • Peaceful: passive
  • Question: query
  • Respite: rest, relax
  • Strong: sturdy, solid
  • Tease: torment
  • Unification: union
  • Vacuum: void
  • Winging: whizzing
  • X …sorry couldn’t think of anything appropriate oops
  • Yes: Yep
  • Zoom: zip

MC Rolston reading at a school visit

School Visit: What Can You Expect?

  • In costume, I will read the story to a group of students, (The suggested maximum is no more than three classes. The reading would be more effective with one or two classes)

  • A copy of the book for the school

  • The option to use the book as a fundraiser. I will ask for $7.00 to cover my cost and the school or the classroom can set their own price for instance, the book could be sold for $12 which is almost 5 dollars less than regular retail price

  • Depending on time availability, I will conduct a writing workshop with the students in your class

Inspiration for the Story

The following email exchanges triggered some brainstorming on my part. I was teaching kindergarten at the time and began thinking of how to combine the tooth fairy story as I told Samantha in the email with the idea of an alliterative ABC story. The idea is that the alliterative lines would be tongue twisters to enhance phoneme development and awareness. In addition, I wanted to create a story that would offer more complex vocabulary with rhyming couplets to appeal to the later primary and early junior grades. Voila, the story of Abbey’s Dental Jewel was birthed! Thank you, Alex and Samantha (who is now 20 years old and in university) … you inspired this story!

Samantha’s email from 2011

MC’s email response

About the Illustrator

Many thanks to:

Lauren, Olivia and Julian for being my illustration models. I wouldn’t have had the courage to try to illustrate this story, had it not been for your willingness to act out the story in order that I would have reference scenes for my sketching.

Lauren & Julian and their questions/reflections

Guide for Reading: PRC

Predictions, Reflections & Connections


Predicting is an essential tool when developing as a strong reader. This story has been written to hook the young audience in engaging in predictable events.

Ask the following questions:

Why do you think that Abbey is feeling like “Bumble bees are buzzing in her body? What might Abbey be feeling? Why might she be so excited?

What do you think Abbey is going to lose? Why is she nervous? Why is she excited?

What does Isaac have up his sleeve? How is he going to help Abbey?

Why is Abbey untying her ribbon?

Predicting the rhyme and bringing it to memory… During the reading of the rhymes encourage your listener to chime in with the rhyme. Start by hesitating and encouraging them to guess what the rhyming words are at the end of the lines. By the end, chime out the rhyme together.


Reflecting throughout a book makes the story extra personal and come alive. It reflects a Reader’s level of comprehension. A more thoughtful and complex reflection and connection reveal a higher understanding of the story. They also help reinforce one’s memory sequence which forms the basis of a retelling with more detail and reference to nuance. A simple and literal retelling reflects a more simplistic understanding.

Use the following questions for points of discussion:

How many teeth have you lost?

Have you ever had to have a tooth pulled at the dentist?

Does this story remind you of any of when you have lost teeth?

Have you ever been excited and or nervous to lose a tooth?

Has anyone helped you pull out a loose tooth?

Has the Tooth Fairy brought you a treat? Has the treat been money or something else?

Have you ever written a note to the Tooth Fairy or received one?

What is your favourite part of the story and why?


Making connections facilitates a deeper understanding of a story through making inferences, noting details and relating them to prior information. It is seeing, linking, and articulating other topics and events to the story. The reader is applying this reading experience to other learned information. Often when making connections the reader will arrive at exciting new insights that extend beyond the literal story.

Use the following questions for points of discussion:

What do you notice about each line in the story up to page 15?

Why is Abbey’s tooth described as a dental jewel?

Why is Abbey’s tooth quivering?

Why is Abbey showing off her tooth and she thinks it is an opulent opportunity?

How much is ninety nickels?

Abbey’s tooth is described as: Presenting her petite, pearly pea, posing poised like a princess of a pod community. Why are her teeth being compared to pearls and peas?

How is Abbey feeling in the picture on the cover, when her friends are about to remove her tooth? What is her expression telling you?

Do you think that Xenia believes in fairies? Why or why not?

What do children’s teeth have in them that brings joy to unhappy seniors?

Why do you think Xenia knows about what happens to children’s teeth once the tooth fairy picks them up?

Why does Abbey feel guilty and greedy after hearing about what happens to children’s teeth?

Additional Resources

Ideas for Teachers & Parents:

Junior Grades (4-6)