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Open Wide: Tooth School Inside

Editorial Reviews
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 Booklist
Gr. 2^-4, younger for reading aloud. Using the same hilarious collage format she used in her popular The Scrambled States of America (1998), Keller presents dental basics through an imagined day at Tooth School. On wildly busy pages filled with facts and comical asides, Dr. Flossman and his 32 young pupils (representing the appropriate break down of incisors, canines, premolars, and molars) explore tooth decay and care, using creative devices such as student book reports to deliver the facts and some fiction (a video about Toothland, The Tooth Fairy's amusement park, for example). There's plenty of information, cleverly woven into laugh-out-loud humor for all ages: pictures of Dracula (before and after braces) for younger children; meditation and self-help humor for older ones; in-jokes for adults. Silly quizzes review the text ("Tooth decay is caused by: a) bacteria and germs; b) slugs and worms; c) bad perms"). The chaos of the book's full-page spreads perfectly captures the manic energy of a school day, and will leave kids giggling and ready to learn more. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From Kirkus Reviews
Painless dentistry is lightened with a dose of laughing gas. Fans of Keller's wacky The Scrambled States of America (1999) will find this a fact-filled, sure-fire, kid-centric introduction to a familiar staple of the elementary school curriculum: dental health. Here, Keller's inspired conceit--a tooth school class presided over by the single-minded Dr. Flossman--offers almost endless opportunities for kid-pleasing puns and clever classroom asides. The book begins with roll call of the incoming students: thirty-two teeth (eight incisors, four canines, eight premolars, twelve molars, and four wisdom). The school day then progresses through typical classroom routines: announcements (GO CHOMPERS), a lesson featuring a cross-section chart of a tooth, a student report on Primary Teeth, an informative video on the Tooth Fairy, group process (incisors together please!), lunch (followed by brushing and flossing, of course), a lesson on tooth decay and cavities, and student reports on the history of dentistry. Check out the funny but fact-based multiple choice and True/False tests (Keller thoughtfully provides the answers). Dynamic book design mimics the untutored artwork of a particularly fun-loving and terribly talented ten-year-old. Keller employs a busy mix of stamp-pad art, ruled paper, notebook sheets, acrylics, colored pencil, crayon, marker drawings, and collage. Spiced with ample cartoony little asides (featuring appropriately costumed, fully ambulatory, and pleasingly smart-mouthed talking teeth), Keller's art delivers the message while entertaining, inviting close study and provoking belly laughs. A perfect gift for the dentist who has everything. Every waiting room (and library) needs a copy. (Picture book. 8-10) -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Book Description
From the author/illustrator of The Scrambled States of America, here is a fun-filled introduction to teeth.

"Before the principal's announcements, will you all please stand and recite our pledge: 'I pledge allegiance to this mouth and to the dentist who takes care of us. And to the gums on which we stand, strong and healthy, with toothbrushes and toothpaste for all.'"

It's time for tooth school and Dr. Flossman is excited to meet the incoming class of 32-eight incisors, four canines, eight premolars, and twelve molars, including the four wisdom teeth. There's just so much to learn-from brushing and flossing to dentin and pulp to every student's nightmare: tooth decay!

Best read with a toothbrush in hand, this hilarious book is full of interesting facts (for instance, George Washington's teeth were not made of wood, despite popular belief) and a classroom full of quirky characters. Young readers will laugh their way to a better appreciation for those pearly whites that beckon them to brush. And from there it's just a short hop to flossing.

About the Author
Laurie Keller is the author and illustrator of The Scrambled States of America, which was named an ABA "Pick of the Lists," an IRA-CBC Children's Choice, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and a Bank Street College of Education Best Book for Children. Ms. Keller is also the illustrator of Marty Frye, Private Eye by Janet Tashjian and Toys! Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions by Don Wulffson (see p. 42). She lives in New York City.



5 out of 5 stars Keller scores again -- with "biting" humor!, May 23, 2000

Top 1000 Reviewer Reviewer: rrr338 from Wisconsin

After "Scrambled States," what else can a children's book author come up with? Plenty, if you happen to be Laurie Keller, and envision the mouthful of human teeth as a "school."

Kids will recognize many elements of the classroom setting here, including familiar "types" of students -- both diligent and smarmy. The teeth learn their oral hygiene lessons from Dr. Flossman, but not without many a well-aimed pun and off-the-cuff wisecrack. A good dose of factual material craftily sneaks its way into all the silly stuff. Keller has a sure sense of what holds the interest of kids. I met her at a book signing, and she said she was inspired by Dr. Suess, among others, as a child. With this, her second book, she is well on her way to establishing herself as a children's author in the excitingly fresh tradition of her childhood idol. But her style is all her own.

Kids will cherish this book... if you allow them to pry it from your own hands. (By the way, tell your dentist about this one!)

5 out of 5 stars Everything you ever wanted to know about teeth, May 16, 2000

Top 50 Reviewer Reviewer: Roz Levine from Virginia

Open Wide Tooth School Inside is a silly, funny, fast paced book for the whole family. Smart, hip text with a disguised lesson about tooth care and the dentist. Terrific, colorful illustrations. And even a quiz to let kids show what they've learned. Just an all around great book.