A Conversation Between Mother and Son Turns Into Books for Children 

You never know where a conversation will lead. For Long Island mother of two, Christine LaSpina, it was the jumping off point for a new business. One day, her then five-year-old son was about to lose a tooth around Christmas. What, he asked, would happen if his tooth did come out on Christmas Eve?  Would the Tooth Fairy and Santa meet up somehow? How would that work, he asked. 

Matthew as he was when he asked mom about the Tooth Fairy and Santa meeting up.

Not finding any existing book on the market that addressed his concern, LaSpina got to thinking and decided to create one herself.  “So, I wrote Christmas Tooth which tells what we thought would happen if the Tooth Fairy and Santa – two beloved powerhouse characters — met up at a boy’s house on this special night: one to retrieve the tooth under the pillow and another to drop off toys.” Never having written anything before, but with an urge to give it a try, this was a true leap of faith for Laspina, who by day is a local real estate agent. Now, she can add children’s book author to her list of credentials. 

Christmas Tooth – the first in the series

As the story came together and having found a local illustrator to bring her characters to life, Laspina researched the world of self-publishing. That proved hard enough, but she also came up against mixed feelings from family and friends, some were right in step on this new pursuit, and others who didn’t understand. “Most supported the idea right away,” she says, “and continued to do so throughout the process, but some weren’t as encouraging, and could not understand why I would put so much effort and resources into such a project. That negative impact,” she shares, “remains vivid in my memory.”  But rather than deter her, it empowered her.

She continued to learn the book creation process by reaching out to those in the community who may know someone, who may know someone, and that is how she found the illustrator, and after that, an online printer. Through local bookstores who took a few copies to display, and Laspina’s own marketing efforts on social media, over a hundred copies were sold. Christmas Tooth was a local hit, boosting the new author’s passion and enthusiasm.  

Halloween Tooth – the second in the series

Of course, a sequel had to follow, and Halloween Tooth came next. This one tells the story of how the Tooth Fairy struggles to make her pickups on the scariest night of the year, dodging trick or treaters, with the added message to kids to brush their teeth after all that candy. Laspina was now on a roll, and each book production came easier and easier. Other books in the series include Toothland which takes the series to a new level as it features the place where the teeth go after being collected, a land where they come alive with names and personalities. In the upcoming Toothkins, children will become more familiar with the tools the dentists use on a typical visit, learn about what can happen at an upcoming dental visit, and understand the importance of caring for teeth.


Toothland – the third book came out in February 2024

While the stories in the book series are simple, getting them ready to publish was far from simple.  Laspina logged in months and months of learning the process. “Navigating the challenges of self-publishing left me wondering where to begin,” she says. “The answers aren’t readily available, so I had to make extensive inquiries and immerse myself in whatever reference books and websites I could find.  It was all trial and error.” But each conversation with an experienced book author or others in the publishing industry gave her “a renewed sense of direction and purpose.” And her biggest cheerleader?  Her son who first posed the question. “He has continued to motivate me to keep going,” LaSpina says, “encouraging me every step of the way, making sure to complete what I started. He’s my accountability person.”

Some of Toothland’s characters

What’s next for the book series?  LaSpina has become a regular on social media with her characters, videos, podcast interviews discussing the book series and her message about taking care of our teeth.  She envisions her books, and eventually stickers, toothbrushes, and plush toys displayed in pediatric dental waiting rooms along with the Toothland videos playing on office TV monitors.  

It’s been over five years since she first got the idea, and after stopping and starting, got serious about it in 2018. Despite the hard work and setbacks, she genuinely enjoyed it. “Witnessing the reactions of those who’ve read the stories, including my own children’s faces, has been and continues to be incredibly rewarding,” she says. “Plus, they’re getting a lesson in pursuing a goal with passion and drive.”

Toothadventures.com

Instagram: @toothadventuresllc

Photos courtesy of Christine LaSpina

About MJ Hanley-Goff (175 Articles)
MJ Hanley-Goff has been contributing to Woman Around Town since its inception in 2009. She began her career at Newsday in the early 90’s and has continued writing professionally for other New York publications like the Times Herald-Record, Orange Magazine, and Hudson Valley magazine. Former editor of Hudson Valley Parent magazine, she also contributed stories to AAA’s Car & Travel, and Tri-County Woman. After completing her novel and a self-help book, she created MJWRITES, INC. to offer writing workshops and book coaching to first time authors, and also college essay writing help to students. MJ has recently made St. Augustine, Florida her home base, and is thrilled and honored to continue to write for WAT and the amazing adventures it offers. Despite the new zip code, MJ will continue to keep a pulse on New York events, but will continue to focus on the creative thinkers, doers, and artists wherever they are.