A lesson in heeding the biased advice of strangers takes an unexpected turn.
Danny the hippo is indulging in an underwater tooth scrub when he overhears a conversation among the “cleaner fish” about the gap between his teeth: He must have a lisp with teeth like that. When he consults with some snakes to determine if he speaks strangely, the lisping reptiles agree that there’s something wrong. Off to the city Danny goes, where he acquires a handsome set of braces—and a brand-new lisp. He recommends the procedure to a crocodile friend, who meets with the dentist, promptly devouring him and taking his job. Now the croc is a well-established dentist, and Danny couldn’t be happier. There is much to enjoy in the easy lines and retro tone of the illustrations. Simple forms and bright colors pop off the page, lending the entire enterprise a jaunty, joyful feel. Up until the sudden plot shift to the crocodile, the story has much to say about heeding the advice of others over your own common sense. Unfortunately, the sudden interjection of the croc turns the tale from The Bear Who Wasn’t (1946) to Sweeney Todd for no particular reason.
Pleasing art hampered by occasionally overblown storytelling and an ungainly plot twist. (Picture book. 4-7)