Demon Dentist

illus. by Tony Ross. 448p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062417046.
Gr 4–6—Somewhere out there, the ghost of Roald Dahl is musing, "Teeth? Of course, teeth!" Walliams's tale is a little darker, scarier, more PG-rated, but still Dahl-esque in the extreme. Twelve-year-old Alfie's had a rough time—no mother, a loving but very ill dad, and the memory of a particularly traumatic dental experience that has resulted in a mouth full of rotting teeth. When the new dentist in town shows up at a school assembly, Alfie's convinced that she is evil, and it turns out he's absolutely right. Absurd comedy meets creepy horror, with a little family drama thrown in, all of it racing by at a breakneck pace, with a few pauses for underwear gags, toilet humor, and other kid-friendly shtick. Supporting characters sometimes edge perilously close to cliché, but there are a few standouts, including Dad and Gabz (who is NOT Alfie's girlfriend, as he points out many, many times). The whole package is extremely British, but American readers should feel comfortable enough, thanks to Ross's familiar illustrations and most middle graders' knowledge of all things Muggle.
VERDICT Frenetic humor for middle grade fans of the funny and fearsome.

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