The Case of the Missing Tooth

I am in the third grade and I have a loose tooth. I sit at my desk with my thumbnail under its base—wiggle, wiggle. I can’t keep my thumb from traveling there, the itch in my gums compels me to pull the thing. I pull out my thumb and my tongue finds it—pokes in the gap underneath, lifting the tooth up. The thing is barely hanging on. I should pull it. But I don’t have the courage so I just sit and rock it back and forth with my thumb.

Wiggle, wiggle.

That’s when Mr. Strong, our principal, walks in—a copy of The Telltale Lilac Bush in his hands. Our teacher, Mrs. Vandegrift, has a meeting and he is going to read to us until she returns. Ghost stories.

This Is a treat—we all love Mr. Strong, he is just plain fun. He sits in the front of the class and begins reading.

Third graders are all about the ghost stories. We lean forward as he gets to the scary part. I forget about my body.

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle…

He’s just getting to the good part—the part where the guys dig up the lilac bush…

Wiggle, wiggle…

He’s just getting to the good part when he pauses momentarily, looks up at us from under his brows and…


Mr. Strong slams the book closed and lunges at us like the ghost under the lilac bush. We all jump three feet high in our seats and I…I am holding my tooth.

And bleeding profusely from the mouth.

I’ll never forget that day, or the subsequent ones when Mr. Strong read to our class. He always kept us watching…waiting…

All because of his little surprises.

Visit us over at to read more about how the element of surprise can help make your message more effective.

photo by Claire Burge, used with permission


  1. says

    I love so many things about this Laura. I had a teacher who read to us every day just before it was time to go home. I looked forward to those fifteen minutes all day and have never forgotten her.
    My Dad loved to wait until we were all totally absorbed and sitting on the edge of our sits while watching something really scary on tv an then clap loudly and yell. It always had the desired affect, and we were always properly annoyed at being taken once again.
    I’m heading over to HC now.

  2. says

    You had me with the title… my little girl lost her tooth on Friday and for the life of her didn’t want to pull it for fear of the pain. This was really precious to me.

  3. says

    i love this story! so cute! i wonder if that element of suprise is why we can rejoice in trials… can the very God of my heart keep me on the edge of my seat and ease the burdens of wiggly teeth? I’m not sure I’ve let him….

    loved this!!!

    P.S. A little birdie says I have a suprise for you…can you find it?


  4. says

    Well, I think your post is clearly more filled with mystery and interest than the one at high callings; I know they are different in scope and purpose, but I’d rather hear more about Mr. Strong and your “wiggle, wiggle.”

    I was there in that room with you!

    Currently, Miss Amelia and me are reading some Junie B. Jones book. I adore these simple books. They are so funny and sound so much like me and my daughter! I thought of her while reading your experience.

    My dad was a “mystery-maker” with his imaginative bedtime tales. We were frightened to listen, but we kept coming back for more.

    Something about the scare and the mystery, both coming from a daddy who could be trusted with the surprise. I think, perhaps, that might preach. Hmmmmm… thanks for the pondering.


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