Lauri Keller, the much-applauded creator of the wacky, wonderful The Scrambled States of America
, traces one school day in a classroom of teeth in Open Wide: Tooth School Inside
. Fortunately, when Dr. Flossman takes attendance, all 32 teeth are present to take the pledge: "And to the gums on which we stand, strong and healthy, with toothbrushes and toothpaste for all." The day proceeds with an anatomy lesson (illustrating dentin, enamel, pulp, etc.), which is interrupted only momentarily when Carl Canine badmouths a little molar (hurting his feelings even though he has a hard enamel shell on the outside). Sally Incisor then shares her report on primary teeth ("Babies don't even need teeth. You never see them eating corn on the cob or anything"), and the Tooth Fairy makes a guest appearance, offering molar-coaster rides and bemoaning the whole "under-the-pillow" idea, which causes her to fear suffocation.
Lunch is a messy affair--complete with food fights--and when it is over, none of the teeth feel like brushing. Of course, an in-depth lesson on tooth decay and cavities ignites a flurry of flossing, gargling, and brushing. As in Scrambled States (which is a must-see if you haven't yet read it), every clever, colorful collage bubbles with activity, hilarious asides between the teeth, and tiny details that you may miss the first time through. Two quizzes conclude the book, posing questions such as "George Washington had teeth made out of rocks and twigs. T or F" and "Tooth decay is caused by a) bacteria and germs, b) slugs and worms, c) bad perms." Kids will never ignore their teeth again--and when they do take a look in the mirror they may see a smiling tooth face peering back, begging for a good brush. (Ages 5 to 9) -- Karin Snelson
From Publishers Weekly
Dr. Flossman welcomes his 32 studentsAeight incisors, four canines, eight premolars and 12 molarsAto class at the start of Keller's (The Scrambled States of America) disappointingly flat lesson on tooth care and trivia. While, in her first book, the states themselves delivered the facts in fun-filled chatty exchanges, here the teacher drills into his anthropomorphic pupils a smattering of tooth truths, including the physical composition of teeth, the function of primary teeth, causes of tooth decay and the importance of dental hygiene. The bulk of the narrative is silly filler (for instance, a funky-looking tooth fairy pays a visit to the school and complains that she sometimes almost suffocates trying to retrieve teeth from under pillows). The book's abundant puns and asides, many delivered by the teeth themselves, may elicit as many groans as giggles from readers. One of the standout spreads, the penultimate, highlights facts about teeth during the times of the Ancient Egyptians through to George Washington. Though the book's cluttered, quirky art is at its best in comical scenarios of ambulatory teeth in the cafeteria and at recess, the visual humor, like that of the narrative, lacks the incisive bite of Keller's earlier book. Ages 5-10. (May)
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