Picture Book Review-William Stieg-Doctor De Soto
Steig has a special ability
to create picture books which speak to children. The Book story is of a mouse
dentist who takes care of all the animals except those that would harm mice
such as cats, and fox. Then one day a fox shows up and cries to be let in, De Soto takes pity on the
fox and begins to treat him. However over the course of the treatment the fox
makes plans to eat Doctor De Soto, realizing what is happening De Soto too makes plans.
The picture book is done in Steig's thick ink line and watercolor style which
seems to relate well to children. As the book opens the precariousness of De Soto's job is shown as
he enters the mouth of many animals to fix their teeth, though all of these are
harmless animals from cows to pigs.
De Soto is given
power in his ability to choose patients both through the text and the upwards
angle on him. This is important for it shows his power over the fox who shows
up asking for treatment, the as we look down on the sad little fox and the
street below. It is not long however before the fox takes power and the angle
becomes even with him as he breaks down crying. This is when De Soto lets him in.
Once in the fox becomes the dominant figure in the illustrations, although he pleads
with the mice one can see that he indeed is dominant over them, he merely needs
to choose to be.
And so it is as the De Soto's treat the fox, they are tiny to his huge mouth,
as he wears the drool bib dentists put on patients, which on the fox looks disturbingly
like a bib for eating.
De Soto pulls the foxes bad tooth and tells him to return to get the new one in
place, on the way home the fox thinks about eating the De Soto's. The warped
perspective of this picture pushes the fox farther away from the viewer mentally,
taking our sympathy away from this character.
It is then that we truly enter the De
Soto's world for we see them making the foxes tooth as
he plots to eat them, they are close in a very domestic scene. Talking and
laying in bed worried about the fox, then however they have an idea.
Once they have put the foxes new tooth in the fox is seen to be looking down on
them as he licks his lips. However the De
Soto explains that he has a new treatment to help the
fox, the power in this picture shifts yet again for with a slight change of
perspective and angle the fox is looking up at Doctor De Soto. The difference
is slight but it is important because it keeps the back and forth of power
shifts going, something that makes this picture book interesting and
exceptional in its visual story telling ability.
The end of the book ends with the De Soto's in
power as the fox walks down the stair, although he is much larger in this
picture he is headed for the door to leave, and the De Soto's are well above him on the stairs.