I have a confession to make. I don’t like Dr. Seuss books.
Or, at least, I thought I didn’t.
What reasons did I give to the people I’ve told this to? I didn’t like his illustrations. I didn’t like all the words he made up. I thought his stories dragged. Hollywood turned me off by their mediocre movie adaptations.
When I tell people I don’t like his books, they’re quite surprised considering that I want to be a children’s book writer. Wouldn’t I want my books to last as long as his has? Wouldn’t I want my stories to be remembered and cherished from generation to generation?
He is one of those people who has left such an enormous impact in our culture and the world of literature (not just children’s) that it’s almost impossible to imagine growing up without some sort of Seussical exposure.
I decided that even though (I thought) I didn’t like his books that I would at least read all his books and learn from them. How did they become fixtures of children’s bookshelves the world over? What was it about his stories and the way he wrote them that made them such classics? And, so another reading challenge was born!
In fact, it was during this reading challenge that I realized I was wrong. I liked his books. The illustrations were fine. The stories were enjoyable.
I’m getting what the big deal is all about.
-excerpt, February 19, 2012
I ended up watching a great documentary about Theodor Geisel called “Rhymes and Reasons.” When I finished, I thought to myself, “What a life!” I recommend you check it out.
Here are my reviews on some of his books.
-I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!- This is one of my go to gifts to young children just learning how to read. This has a great rhyme scheme and fun vocabulary with colorful pictures.
-Oh, the Places You’ll Go!- I always see this book on display right before summer because it’s a popular graduation gift. I’ve always been curious about it. Based on an actual speech, the story was uplifting and had a realistic approach and advice to life’s challenges. The message is strong enough to motivate anyone regardless of how young or old they are.
-The King’s Stilts- I loved the message in The King’s Stilts! It’s about a king who, “when he worked, he worked very, very hard” but when that was done, enjoyed spending the rest of his time on his stilts. A lot of people can learn from this lesson of balance- between life and work, I mean- although if they want to try walking on stilts, they should learn to work on that kind of balancing as well. There’s actually a lot of going on in this book and it’s all fun and interesting.
-The Seven Lady Godivas- An interesting read for older Seuss fans.
-Horton Hatches the Egg- This is a highly entertaining story that teaches loyalty, among many things. This very faithful elephant continues to be one of my favorite Seuss character. And there’s nothing wrong with a happy ending! “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, And an elephant’s faithful,
one hundred per cent!”
-McElligot’s Pool- This is the kind of Seuss book that I like- imaginative and not too overboard with the made up words. This book can be a great, fun book for kids to come up with their own types of fish.
-Horton Hears a Who!- “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Horton Hears a Who! works on so many level. In the most basic level, it’s a story about a friendly elephant willing to go out of his way to help out others. And apparently this story was Theodor Geisel’s way “to move beyond his feelings of animosity towards Japan, using this book as an allegory for the American post-war occupation of the country.”
-How the Grinch Stole Christmas!- This is classic Seuss. It’ll be weird if people weren’t familiar with the story. This was actually my first time reading it so I tried not to let the other incarnations affect my review. With its memorable character and feel good message, I can see why it has become so much a part of our pop culture. It probably helped that the made up words were kept to a minimum!
-Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories- More thoughtful, more layered, but without being too preachy. The three stories in this collection were enjoyable and fun and had messages one can take away from them.
-One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish- His love with the plays of words was evident and went well with the fun illustrations.
-Green Eggs and Ham- The rhyme format and fun story works well in engaging even the most hesitant readers.
-Fox in Socks- Intro to tongue twisters, fun for kids.
-Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?- “Book of wonderful noises”- Kids will enjoy mimicking what Mr. Brown can do.
-And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street- Dr. Seuss has always been a hit or miss for me. I think his books are too long for reading to kids. I actually liked the simplicity of this book. And he definitely has a distinctive drawing style.
-The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins- This was an interesting story. The main character, Bartholomew, was an obedient boy who had something odd happen to him which gets him arrested, almost beheaded, shot arrows at, and practically pushed to his death.
-Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose- This had a silly, fun premise but none of the characters were likable.
-Bartholomew and the Oobleck- Bartholomew of the 500 hats returns with a whole new problem- it’s raining oobleck, an ooey, gooey and gluey substance. The lessons here are plentiful- forgiveness being one of them, the appreciation of nature another.
-If I Ran the Zoo- I was getting tired of the made up words. There were at least attempts at humor.
-On Beyond Zebra!- I was pleasantly surprised that it was about the love of words and not staying within the confines of popular/normal boundaries.
-The Cat in the Hat Comes Back- Even though I don’t like the Cat at all and found this story to be humorless, I can see how kids may enjoy it.
-Dr. Seuss’s ABC- This works well for what it is- an alphabet book. Although, when I reached the end, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that it ended at Z and didn’t go “On Beyond Zebra!”
-Hop on Pop- This is billed as “the simplest Seuss for the youngest use,” I didn’t have much expectations for it- and it lived up to it, at least.
-Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?- The only thing that made this book worth reading was the message.
-The Cat in the Hat- The premise of using a limited vocabulary to encourage reading is awesome. The story seemed very lifeless though. And, the Cat creeps me out.
-Scrambled Eggs Super!- This may be my least liked Dr. Seuss book ever! The made up words annoyed me and got repetitive. For some reason, this book robbed me the wrong way. Just the idea of stealing eggs from rare birds- even make believe ones from a children’s picture book- seemed like a horrible lesson to teach kids.
And as I asked before: What are your favorite Dr. Seuss books?