Of mice and fairies

mouse“Look! I have a wobbly tooth!” says my niece Jasmine, who is six.
“Brilliant! Will you put it under your pillow so the little mouse comes to get it?”
“A MOUSE??! In my BED??!”
Cross-cultural confusion alert! Backtrack or the little girl will never go to sleep again, terrified that her bed is about to be taken over by tooth-loving rodents.
“The fairy! I meant the fairy! The lovely tooth fairy!”
Although no one knows for certain the origin of the little mouse and the tooth fairy, it looks like they might come from a French fairy tale called La Bonne Petite Souris, where a fairy turns into a mouse to help a good queen defeat an evil king.
Jasmine recovered from her shock. After all, this is the auntie that once told her that chocolate was brought by, wait for it, not a rabbit, but BELLS at Easter. Whatever next?
Mouse photo by PixCat

By |2016-10-18T15:49:00+00:00November 5th, 2009|Culture|7 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Licia November 5, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    In Italy, at least where I grew up, it was “la formichina”, the little ant, but elsewhere it was “la fatina” (little fairy) and “il topino” or “il topolino” (little mouse).
    You made me curious about different tooth fairy traditions — I found that the loss of milk teeth is indeed celebrated in quite a few cultures around the world!

  2. céline November 6, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Thanks Licia! Never heard of “the little ant” before.

  3. Adrian Morgan November 7, 2009 at 7:13 am

    A story from my mother’s side of the family is that the tooth fairy makes pianos out of the teeth, using them in place of ivory. It’s still the most plausible theory I’ve heard.

  4. céline November 7, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Adrian, I don’t know how I never realised before that’s what they did with all the teeth. It makes complete sense now you’ve said it.

  5. Brian November 8, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Although in Spain it is also a mouse who comes – Ratoncito Perez -, here in Catalonia the tradition is for a Little Angel – l’Angelet – to leave a gift for the teeth. However, due to Spanish cultural influences, many people believe in a Catalan-ized version of Perez!
    By the way, we have only just discovered your blog and are very impressed – congratulations!

  6. Nathalie Reis November 9, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    My children claim that because maman est française et daddy is English, they should have both visitors…They even suggest leaving a piece of cheese for the mouse if the fairy comes first and a little bead/sparkly item for the fairy should she be the last one…

  7. céline November 9, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks Brian for the info (and the compliment).
    Nathalie, I think your children have a point and will go far in life.

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