Book Review: Doctor DeSoto

Rating: ★★★★☆

Dr. DeSoto, a mouse, has a standing policy of never treating predators at his dental practice.  One day, a fox appears and pleads for help, weeping so that Dr. and Mrs. DeSoto take pity on him and agree to replace his abscessed tooth.  While helping him they realize he intends to eat them after his treatment is finished, and they devise a clever way to outwit him while still finishing the job.

The story is satisfying on many levels.  It builds on the principle of Aesop’s fable of the crane and the wolf, showing that evil people will return evil for good.  But the dentist and his wife demonstrate wisdom in doing good for this evil character, refusing to go back on their commitment yet not denying their real danger.  In working together, this husband and wife team demonstrate courage, unity, and mutual care, exemplifying the kind of marriage I want to be defined as normal for my children.

Steig tells the story in an understated way, with effective dialogue and gentle humor.  Children will wait anxiously to find out how the two mice will resolve their problem, and will greatly enjoy the fox’s discomfiture when he is defeated.  This is an excellent early-reader story about how to deal with evil in the everyday world.

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Publication Information: Steig, William. Doctor DeSoto. . 1983. ISBN: 0374418101.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 04-08, Amblesideonline, Honey For a Child's Heart, Newbery Honor, Read-Aloud Handbook
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Posted on May 15, 2009

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