I've been reading up on William Steig a lot recently. Well, reading about him and reading him. Having bought Doctor De Soto last Summer its proved to be a slow burner here. I suppose maybe I was expecting a lot, but when I read it first I thought, "It's not that great." Its about a dentist who is also a mouse, who makes his living working on the teeth of other animals, many of whom are considerably bigger than he is.
Anyway, the book found its place on the shelf and we pulled it out every now and again, and then I saw the audio version in the library. I added it to our pile because well, it was free, why not? I hadn't even considered that when you think about it, when a picture book finds its way to audio, it has to be pretty well written right? And to be read by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci? Well, it was magical. Magical and weird and funny and just made all of us stop and listen and smile.
And now, the more I read Doctor De Soto the more I love it. Its just written in such a not-condescending way. As if kids can actually cope with lines like;
"Doctor De Soto climbed up the ladder and bravely entered the fox's mouth. "Ooo-wow!" he gasped. The fox had a rotten bicuspid and unusually bad breath."
"That night the De Sotos lay awake worrying. "Should we let him in tomorrow?" Mrs De Soto wondered.
"Once I start a job," said the Dentist firmly, "I finish it. My father was the same way.""
And all that is before you even look at the pictures. Check these out.
Some animals cannot be trusted..
and some animals can.
Here is the donkey, getting some work done..
and his wife, reading a magazine in the waiting room. Mrs De Soto, lends a hand.
All of which got me on a bit of an obsessive hunt for reviews of all his books and which we should read next. Even though I had officially finished the book side of Christmas shopping, when I saw that Burgin at Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves says that if you want your kids to think outside the box, read William Steig with them, I knew I had to get a few more. Amongst those she raves about are Gorky Rises and Rotten Island, both of which will be found under our tree on Christmas morning.