“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” ~C.S. Lewis
I think my requests to have my mother read William Steig’s Doctor DeSoto over and over again were in part due to my love of going to the dentist; however it wasn’t solely for this reason. This book was one of my favorite books as a child and it’s one that I still read to my students each year. Perhaps they love it for the same reasons I did, or maybe just because I tell them it’s one of my childhood favorites, but it seems to engage my students each year.
I loved everything about Doctor DeSoto as a child. The animal characters had great appeal since animals in general were a topic of interest for me. I think what I found most enthralling about Doctor DeSoto were all the gadgets he and his wife used to be effective. It was thrilling to see Doctor DeSoto suspended in the air by a pulley system so he could perform work on larger animals such as cows. Mrs. DeSoto had a system in place for making teeth out of gold. The DeSotos were ingenious!
The most captivating part of this story, though, was the suspense created when the DeSotos decide to help a fox with a rotten tooth. I remember thinking, “You fools! The fox is going to eat you!” I waited eagerly to discover what would happen to the kind-hearted and clever DeSotos. What a relief to discover their ingenuity saved their lives as they brushed a glue-like paste on the fox’s teeth so he couldn’t open his mouth! All he could say was, “Frank oo berry mush.” That line made me laugh every time.
I loved and still love this book! (and I still love going to the dentist…)