Tie a tooth to a doorknob
September 5, 2023 3:49 PM   Subscribe

What books include a child's tooth being tied to a doorknob, and then the door being slammed to pull out the tooth?

My child said someone read this to the 5 year olds at daycamp (like... really?). I feel like it's a subplot in a 1980s Judy Blume book like Superfudge or Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, but I don't have copies around to check. Any idea what book it would be?
posted by nouvelle-personne to Writing & Language (15 answers total)
This almost happens in “Henry and Ribsy” by Beverly Cleary.
posted by Melismata at 3:53 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]

Wait, your child was one of the 5 year olds?

This Slate article about this phenomenon doesn't mention any books, but certainly this notion has been around forever.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:56 PM on September 5

Yeah, this is just how things were done (my mom and multiple aunts and uncles experienced it themselves). I can’t recall particular titles, but I know it was mentioned in multiple books I read in the 80’s.
posted by not just everyday big moggies at 4:33 PM on September 5

Here's the link to the TV Trope list.
It mentions Diary of a Wimpy Kid among a few other books.
posted by calgirl at 4:39 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]

My elementary-aged kid also came across at least one book with that trope around five, either from general library offerings or Amazon's Kids+ selection, which I remember because one night they asked about it in tones of great horror and I had the same "what have you been reading?" reaction. I actually don't think it was a significant part of the plot, as it turned out, but rather that the mental image had been so vivid for them. As such, for your purposes, I'd be considering even otherwise positive "loose teeth" books: for example, there's this one hosted by Delta Dental where it's proposed and then rejected.
posted by teremala at 4:55 PM on September 5

Is this weird? I did it to myself (I think with parental blessing?) when I was 7ish. Just the common thing to do, so far as we knew.
posted by stray at 5:14 PM on September 5

Tom Sawyer has this scenario, which is almost exactly what you describe.
posted by splitpeasoup at 6:04 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]

I feel fairly certain that this was in one of the Great Brain books, which might be the kind of thing that still gets read to 5-year-olds.
posted by sesquipedalia at 7:49 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]

Not a kid or a doorknob but this entire book revolves around an actual string being used to rip out the loose tooth in the mouth of a moose named Bruce. I remembered it immediately on reading this question and probably last read it in about 1975.
posted by Cuke at 7:49 PM on September 5

Arthur Ransome has this trope in The Big Six.
posted by freethefeet at 8:25 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]

This scratched some deep recesses of my brain. I feel there’s a story in the Astrid Lindgren books about Emil where they pull out a tooth by tying a string around it and having a horse run away with it. So not the exact scenario, but it made me think of it. (Yes, this is quotable as a “Metafilter: …” joke).
posted by AwkwardPause at 8:32 PM on September 5

I was thinking of the same story as AwkwardPause, and found it: Emil and the Bad Tooth .
posted by fridgebuzz at 12:42 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]

Featuring a troll rather than a human child, it appears in Night Noises and Other Mole and Troll Stories, by Tony Johnston: the specific story is The Loose Tooth.

Spoiler: they get as far as tying the string to tooth and doorknob, but the actual door slam proves unnecessary.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:27 AM on September 6

One of the Terry Denton treehouse books has an episode like this, but I don't know which one because in this house we don't have just one book on the go, apparently.
posted by deadwax at 6:07 AM on September 6

Wilkin's Tooth by Diana Wynne Jones is another contender.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:09 PM on September 6

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