The DFF Book Club

It’s been five months since my last submission for the DFF Book Club, but this doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking about books. In fact, I have a whole string of books that I’d like to share with you.

Doctor De Soto by William Steig

Yesterday, Aisha brought out Doctor De Soto by William Steig for me to read. She had found it on the shelf last week after hearing about my dental visits and looked at it to learn what a dentist really does. (Autodidacticism — yay!)

William Steig didn’t start writing children’s books until he was 60, but he illustrated in cartoon format for his working career, mostly for The New Yorker. Steig is famous for his Caldecott Medal book Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (which I still don’t have a copy of), but he is also the creator of Shrek and was pleased with how Dreamworks Studio animated his book.

When Aisha gave Doctor De Soto to me to read, I was very pleased at her choice and stopped to analyse my reaction. Here was a book that was as interesting for the adult reader as it was for the child (no matter how many times you’ve read it before).

Doctor De Soto is a mouse and a dentist. His clients are small animals and vegetarian large animals, and he is very good at what he does. One day he is tempted to take a very sad fox as a client, and he and his wife creatively treat his rotten “bicuspid”. (How many times do you see a word like that in any book?)

Doctor De Soto by William Steig
For extra-large animals, he had a special room. There Doctor De Soto was hoisted up to the patient's mouth by his assistant, who also happened to be his wife.

The illustrations are clever and detailed, with lots to talk about. The characters lend themselves to making up different voices — without so many characters that you forget who has which voice. I love the story, full of suspense and wit, and my children agree that it’s a favourite.

If you hadn’t heard about Doctor De Soto before, keep an eye out for it. It’s still in print and not very expensive, but definitely a worthwhile addition to your shelves.