Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Doctor De Soto, written and illustrated by William Steig

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

This is a funny story about how a mouse-dentist outsmarts a fox with a toothache.

Doctor De Soto is a mouse-dentist with a reputation for fine dental work. His very small hands give him the ability to work closely on his patients’ teeth and with considerable delicacy. His wife works with him as an assistant. The signage for Dr De Soto’s practice stipulates that he will not work on the teeth of dangerous animals, more specifically, cats’ teeth.

Due to the differing sizes of the animals he treats, Dr De Soto has an array of interesting instruments – various ladders and pulleys, which help him to access bigger mouths and their teeth. One day a fox stands under his window with a bandage around his head. He’s suffering an awful toothache. Dr De Soto consults his wife and asks her if he should treat the fox. It would be terribly risky, as you know how ruthless foxes are, but they do feel sorry for him. They agree to treat the fox.

All goes fairly well, until they discover that the fox intends to eat them once his toothache is fixed. You see, when they put him to sleep, he mumbled how he would like to eat Dr Soto! Armed with this intelligence, Dr De Soto and his wife figure out a way to outfox the fox.

This is a brilliant story with charming illustrations that mixes suspense and humour. You sit on the edge of your seat worrying about poor Dr De Soto, who is trying to do the right thing. But you also have a chuckle at the bad fox, who, after all, is only following his natural inclination. When Dr De Soto and his wife come up with a plan to put the fox’s ravenous jaws out of action, your mind reels in wonder at how they will do it.

Dr De Soto, by William Steig. Published by Particular Books. ISBN: 9781846145285  RRP: 19.95