Demon Dentist by David Walliams

Twelve-year-old Alfie hates going to the dentist. His teeth are yellow and brown and he loves sweets. He had an awful experience at the one-and-only dentist in town, Mr. Erstwhile, and has refused to go since then. Erstwhile croaks and a new dentist, Miss Root, shows up at Alfie’s school to promote good dental hygiene. Or so it appears. But something is off… she’s an odd tooth, saying that she will not give gory details on Erstwhile’s death, but then gives the gory details: Erstwhile was found in his surgery room lying in a pool of blood with a dental probe through his heart.

Irony abounds as Miss Root sniffs out Alfie’s rotten mouth-full of teeth in the school auditorium like a bloodhound. He gets pegged for an appointment at her office that he is determined to miss. Alfie describes the creepy dentist as, “The pupils in her eyes shone black. On second look, they were blacker than coal. Blacker than oil. Blacker than night. Blacker than the blackest black. In short, they were black.” Like a stand-up comedian, the author has great timing that includes some hits and misses. This book needs a “snort-laugh ALERT.” If you like silly books with exaggerated characters, then you’ll like this comedy.

Alfie teams up with Gabz when he sees Miss Root acting suspicious. She is younger than him and he calls her his “girl friend” which all they adults interpret as his girlfriend. The two sputter in anger every time this happens and I laughed every time as it got more preposterous. Take Raj, the endearing dork of a newsagent, who says to Alfie: “‘Your girlfriend?! Ooh…’ cooed Raj. ‘No, no!’ exclaimed Alfie. ‘She isn’t my girlfriend. Gabz is just a friend who’s a girl.’ ‘Your friendgirl*?'” The author puts an asterisk with a footnote: “*Made-up word ALERT (any letters of complaint to be addressed to Raj.) Move over spoiler alerts.

David Walliams pokes fun at evolving social cultures such as the boy who misses out on all the action at school because he texts 24/7. Or the drama teacher that thinks the social worker, Winnie, driving a moped throughout the school is part of an improv act. Or Winnie, the social worker, that eats and drinks like a piston with no sensitivity or respect to others. Then there is some toilet bowl humor with farting (that is in the top five next to “poop” and “butt” for kids at my school) along with some terrific scary parts, the need for false teeth, and “witchestry*”. A snortingly* fun at the beach book. Okay. I would not make team Walliams made-up word list.

When kids at school start receiving gross items like bat wings, an old man’s toenail, and an eyeball under their pillows from the tooth fairy, Alfie is sure it is connected with Miss Root. He teams up with Alfie, Raj, and Gabz to solve the mystery. The straightforward plot is easy to follow and Miss Root is a one dimensional

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