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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday's for Kids XIII -- FORGOTTEN SEUSS

I think it may actually be impossible to claim yourself a book-lover and yet not like, or at least appreciate (that ever snobby word for those stuffy and shallow enough to attempt to save face amidst the true bibliophiles) Dr. Seuss (his books, I mean; I don't know much about the actual man behind them).  In fact, I would be interested to know if you or someone you know may be one who actually does dislike him--err, his books, I mean (and "dislike" being the mildest, though I'm sure there's someone out there--likely a non-book lover, but perhaps not--who just flat out despises him).  But I have a problem.  My problem is indeed with his books and is two-fold: 1, there are so many of them (which, of course, is also a strength, but without which this next wouldn't happen); and 2, so many of the very best are forgotten because of what pop-culture and bookstores (the latter parcel to the first, of course) does to only a handful.

I have three favorite titles by Seuss.  None of them have I ever seen at a Barnes and Noble.  None have been made into a movie--or at least some massive wide-release travesty (thank Heaven! (though, done right, maybe they wouldn't be so bad)).  Nowhere have I found a student even who's ever heard of more than one.

I am not going to dwell on the stories, metaphors, and characters of each, but simply show their covers, list their titles, and little else.

What do I recommend?  Get the books.  Buy them.  Put them on your shelves, but not in the children's section, but right between, say, Salinger and Tennyson, where they belong.

NUMBER 1: Horton Hatches the Egg, surely forgotten in large part because of the book's big, though nonetheless great (just hackneyed by the evil Pop!), brother, Horton Hears a Who.

NUMBER 2: Scrambled Eggs Super, a long-time favorite of mine, and even before my Dad's renown for his ability to recite the entire thing word-for-word, as well as a now-favorite of my kids.

NUMBER 3: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, which is a rare example of a story without rhyme, as well as one of, if not, the longest stories Seuss wrote.

(I don't know what happened to the "500"...)
Each of these books is as rife with character, fun, and real-world application as any of his classics with more mega-media face-time; I argue, however, that these are, perhaps, lucky to be at least partially forgotten, as certainly characters like Horton and the Cat in the Hat have only suffered at the attention of Hollywood's heavy, oh-so-un-holy hand.

Gee Whiz: In searching pictures of the books, I stumbled upon this of the Hebrew translation for Scrambled Eggs Super; how spectacular that they thought to reverse the cover art!


  1. "Go Dogs Go!" will always be my favorite. Too many memories. Although I also like "Yertle", and "The Lorax" had the largest influence in shaping my worldview. That's the power of being an amazing children's author: indoctrination!

  2. I love "Yertle," but my dentist was the only place I could ever read it. "The Lorax" is fantastic, but I didn't read it until I was an adult.

    (I'm not a big fan of "Go Dogs, Go." Sorry.)

  3. i will forever think of dad when i hear of and see dr. seuss books. <3

  4. Bah. I snub "The Social Network"; you snub Dr. Seuss. We are at least even now.

  5. Actually now that I'm looking it's not by Dr. Seuss. WOW. My life has just changed horribly!

  6. favourite title would be "horton hatches the egg." i think i liked it the best as a kid because it was a story that actually made sense instead of a bunch of scrambled words.

  7. It's a great story, like Cubbins is, as far as I'm concerned. And James, I was going to say that Dogs wasn't from Seuss, but thought you'd probably go and look it up.

    And no, I don't snub Seuss. Not the REAL one, anyway! ;)

  8. Haha, thanks for sparing me the embarrassment! I still don't see how you couldn't like this book. The plot is riveting. Actually, what I like more is just the pictures of the old cars. Also, I figured out what it is. The Cat in the Hat is in a logo on the cover. Why is that? No wonder I got confused.

  9. It's kinda like James Patterson or Tom Clancy and their TEAMS of ghostwriters. Well not exactly. Even though Seuss is dead, his name is not, and there are dozens of books out there with his name, his stamp, and different authors. Funny, I just read "Fox in Socks" with my daughter, by Seuss, and it reminded me of "Go Dog, Go," for some reason. It's one of the Seuss's books more reliant on word play than plot, and the word play is ALL tongue twisters--HILARIOUS! And it takes a LOT to twist me up. I can talk fast. A lot of fun though, and it had my three-year-old giggling.

    Back to the "Why is that?" question: PD Eastman is a great kids' book author, but his name isn't Seuss, and Seuss sells more books, no matter how similar the two are to each other, so why not put something very Seuss on the cover and up--up and up and up--the bottom line?

    Happens all the time.

    Publishing cannibals!

  10. Oh! And if you haven't read the books I listed -- seriously! Read them! They are truly FINE books. Yes. Even fine literature.

  11. I believe that I've read "Scrambled Eggs Super." I may have to pick them up. AU's library sucks, though, so I don't know if they would have them.

  12. I may have read "SES" to your class somewhere along the line. It's crazy fun to read out loud.

  13. Nope, AU's library strikes out. Not really a surprise since they don't even have "East of Eden".

  14. I'm grateful for a variety of reasons for the BYU library. One reason is its enormity.

  15. I understand that it's not going to teach you how to be a bureaucrat (which is I suppose why AU doesn't carry it), but you'd think that reading it could be good for someone who wanted to write children's literature (oh right, AU doesn't care about those majors).


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