Review Detail

Kids Fiction 1287
If you're afraid of the dentist NOW...
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
There are several reasons that Alfie doesn't want to go to the dentist-- he had a horrific experience with a decayed tooth earlier, his father is disabled and needs a lot of care, and horrible things are being left under children's pillows in town by someone who is using the Tooth Fairy as a way to horrify children instead of giving them loose change! When Miss Root, a new dentist in town, is invited to speak at Alfie's school, she doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the dental professional in him, but when social worker Winnie demands that he go to the dentist, he doesn't have much choice. Unfortunately, Miss Root really is evil and only justifies Alfie's fears. With the help of classmate Gabz as well as local newsagent Raj, Alfie works to bring the evil dentist to justice before she can ruin any more teeth!
Good Points
Like Stine's US Goosebumps books or Roald Dahl's typically British "horror" stories, there's not anything truly frightening in Demon Dentist, but Walliams does a good job at taking a fear children do have and presenting it in an amusing way. Everything about this story is over the top-- Alfie's dental habits are abysmal, Winnie is flamboyant in her manner of dress and even more flamboyant when she loses all of her clothes crawling under a fence, and the demon dentist is pure evil in the manner of Cruella deVil, to whom she bears a passing resemblance.

There are some serious issues as well-- Alfie's father is suffering from the effects of black lung and dies after exerting himself to save Alfie. Luckily, Alfie has supportive adults in his life, from Winnie the social worker who begins to care for him to Raj, the newsagent who gives Alfie food when the boy is hungry and even his late wife's dentures!

Tony Ross's frenetic line illustrations add another dimension of comedy to the book, and we see Winnie on her moped going around inside of Alfie's school, the disastrous results of toxic toothpaste being dumped into the canal, and even the demon dentist's den lined with children's teeth!

British children's books are very distinctive in their portrayal of the life of children, and while their books occasionally make me worry about the welfare of children in the UK, the books are amusing. Fans of Colfer's Legend of Spud Murphy, Fleischman's The Dunderheads or even Jacqueline Wilson's more realistic fiction will find Alfie's adventures to be hysterically funny but also heart warming.
Report this review Was this review helpful? 0 0


Already have an account? or Create an account