This quirky and clever little book came out in Japan — where prolific bestselling author and illustrator Taro Gomi lives — way back in 1984. To our good fortune, it now has been translated into English.
A crocodile with a toothache understandably drags his feet about going to the dentist, but the dentist is equally shaken by the prospect of those huge jaws occupying his exam chair. When they meet, they echo each other's sentiments exactly: "Must I?" the crocodile asks himself from behind a potted plant, while the dentist cowers behind his chair with a parallel hesitance on his face and the same words in his thoughts.
This pattern becomes funnier and funnier as the pages turn. In the midst of the giggles, children get the point that you can proceed even if you're scared and that dentists are human, too. When they get to the end and realize that seeing the dentist less frequently hinges upon their brushing their teeth ... well, let's just say there may be a bit less resistance when the time comes for before-bed hygiene rituals.
The illustrations have a cartoon-like quality that adds to the appeal. Gomi depicts the dentist's instruments with enough detail that children will quite likely be less frightened when they see the real thing in their actual dentist's office, assuming there's no crocodile there.