I have never reviewed a children’s book before, because honestly they are so amazingly difficult to create that I was always a bit wary. You wouldn’t think that children’s books would be difficult, but children see the world in such a way that we adults often have a difficult time relating. And as an adult, reviewing a book meant for someone with a far more open and flexible mind is something that is quite difficult. That being said, I am going to give it a go, starting with Katie Lynn Melko’s Paw Elementary: Roxy’s Adventure to the School Dentist.
Usually, in a picture book, the part of the story that grabs me are the pictures. These have to tell the story to someone who can’t read (or is just starting out) and is having someone read to them. These pictures have to match up with the story well enough that you can tell what’s going on without the words. And you have to have enough interest that the child doesn’t get bored. These pictures do very well with that. The expressions reflect the emotions that the characters should be feeling (even with the stylistic features of a cartoon dog and friends). There is enough to interest a child in the scene. I think the bits with the dental tools might require some help with the words, but half the time I have no idea what the dentist is doing anyways, so that’s something to consider.
As for the actual story itself, the concept is a good one. The idea is to make a trip to the dentist less scary for children. It is a bit frightening when someone shoves pointy objects into your mouth and expects you to hold a conversation. This does well at explaining what a dentist is doing to children. However, it does forget the bit about ‘what if you actually have a cavity and they have to drill your tooth out’. (I do understand this, though, because that is not a fun experience and you probably shouldn’t include such things in a children’s book.) On the whole, I think it does well in making the dentist a more understandable thing, while also talking about the importance of brushing your teeth properly.
I think that if I have a critique for this book, it would be in the placement of the text. Yes, the picture is the most important part, but the text is very cramped and close together, and if a child is trying to read along, the words are going to be difficult to pick apart. Making the words just a touch bigger and maybe changing the colour to be slightly lighter would be helpful.
On the whole, I like this book. I think it does well with making a potentially scary situation less frightening. And teaching children is one of the main points of children’s books.