New mothers naturally want the best for their children, and often aim to correct any mistakes that might have been made in their own childhood. For Rockville Centre resident Meg Croutier McNoble, the issue that loomed as a large point of contention while she was growing up was the daily ritual of brushing her teeth. Wanting to avoid the struggles she experienced, she came up with an idea to promote dental hygiene for her own daughter, as well as others, with a new children’s book.
“A couple of months after having my daughter, I was brushing my teeth when it occurred to me that soon I would need to teach her the importance of dental hygiene,” McNoble, a 32-year-old CPA, said.
And that’s when the flashbacks started, she said.
“Growing up, I despised brushing my teeth, which led to arguments with my mom,” McNoble said. “And so, I started wondering, how am I going to get Maisie to brush twice a day, every day?”
The idea struck at that moment last April, McNoble said, when her daughter Maisie was just a few months old. She wrote down the story of “Flossy the Mouse” one afternoon while Maisie, now 1, was napping, envisioning Flossy as a plush figurine to be sold with the book.
In the story, Flossy is asked to come to a child’s house to make sure children are brushing their teeth twice daily. Flossy then reports to the Tooth Fairy, who will only accept a clean tooth.
McNoble said she has “horrible teeth” and it runs in the family. “No matter how often I would brush, I would get cavities.” She has already had two root canals and has spent “thousands of dollars in restorative work.”
“Unfortunately, I did not realize the importance of brushing my teeth until it was too late,” McNoble said. “Teaching our children best practices and instilling healthy habits at a young age is important to ensure they follow them throughout their lives.”
Her mother, Margi Croutier, said she likes the concept of the book.“It was always a challenge getting Meg to brush her teeth,” she said. “When she presented this idea, I thought, this would’ve been awesome 25 years ago.”
McNoble is expecting her second child in March, and said that, though Maisie only has three teeth, she doesn’t seem to mind having them brushed yet. “I really think it’s important to make it a habit early on, start the routine,” she said, “and get used to the feel of bristles in her mouth.”
Shortly after she fleshed out the concept, McNoble brought the project to longtime family friend Nancy Depew, a Rockville Centre native who now lives in Acton, Mass., and asked her to illustrate the book.
Depew graduated from Baldwin High School in 1985 and attended Parsons School of Design, where she received a degree in fashion design. Depew said she’s more of a “pencil to paper artist,” but when she envisioned Flossy, she saw it more as graphic character than a hand-drawn mouse. She taught herself how to use different publishing and illustrating applications for the design.
The two spent months bringing Flossy to life, working entirely remotely due to Covid restrictions.
“For me, it became a fun thing to do,” Depew said. “And it allowed me to learn different apps. To see it go from a flat pencil drawing to the computer to 3D was really spectacular.”
In addition to the book, customers have an option to purchase a brushing chart for morning and night so children can get in the habit of brushing regularly, which McNoble said can foster motivation.
McNoble also spent time researching companies for toy manufacturing and found a company that could accomodate her vision. She began a kickstarter campaign to help get the project off the ground, raising more than $5,800. The book is expected to ship to customers in April, and McNoble said that, for every kit sold, one toothbrush will be donated to organizations across the country that promote pediatric dental hygiene.
For more information or to donate to the project, go to www.flossythemouse.com or www.kickstarter.com/projects/flossythemouse/flossy-the-mouse