cover image The Crocodile and the Dentist

The Crocodile and the Dentist

Taro Gomi. Chronicle, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4521-7028-2

The phrase “two sides of the same coin” aptly describes this clever, skitlike story from Gomi (I Really Want to See You, Grandma). On the left side of every spread is a crocodile with a painful cavity who doesn’t want to see the dentist—but knows he has to. On the right side is a dentist who doesn’t want to treat the crocodile—but knows he has to. As the appointment proceeds, the dialogue and art offer a mirror image: “I’m scared,” says the queasy-looking crocodile sitting down in the chair; “I’m scared,” says the dentist, clutching his stomach in anticipation of working on this patient. But both sides bravely persist, and after a mutual “ouch!” and “whew” they part with a genial bow, waiting until they’re out of each other’s earshot to add, “I don’t want to see him again.” Gomi’s protagonists are remarkably expressive: the crocodile’s snaggletoothed fearfulness is especially endearing. Some grown-ups may be tempted to use this book to teach the concept of empathy, but only one moral seems to interest the whimsically pragmatic author: “So you must remember to brush your teeth!” Ages 3–5. [em](Aug.) [/em]