Seuss up!

For someone who had never read many children’s books at all before her own child showed up, I’ve become a Dr. Seuss fanatic.   Something about the cadence, the crazy, made-up names (the man would go to any length to make a rhyme happen), the awesome message of tolerance and forbearance, and the cockeyed optimism in the face of greedy Grinches, howling Hakken Kraks, and Horton-taunting bullies, is never less than inspiring.   Which is why this story about drag queen Martha Graham Cracker being disinvited to read a Dr. Seuss book to kids in an after-school program is so un-Seussian.   Ironic, right?

The story has a happy ending, as you’ll see if you follow the link, but it got me thinking about how Dr. Seuss would have addressed some of the more controversial issues of our day.   What would Horton say about gay marriage?  How would the Cat in the Hat feel about the inability of our two major political parties to come to any kind of consensus about anything?  What kind of lectures would the Sneetches deliver to all the haters still clinging to racial and ethnic prejudices?

One of my favorite lines from the Seuss canon is:  “So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.”  If more of us operated with care and tact, it would be a much more friendly world, no?

What are you favorite Dr. Seuss quotes and characters?

9 Responses to Seuss up!

  1. Joelle says:

    You know, I was raised on his stuff, but I’m thinking that I haven’t read it in so long. Thanks for the reminder.

    Have you heard this story from This American Life? Jonathan Goldstein and David Rakoff tell the story of a man with a terrible medical problem, hoping for a cure from a famous doctor — who only communicates in rhyme.


    It’s a pretty hilarious ode to Seuss.

  2. Katie says:

    I read a lot of Dr. Seuss. “If I Ran the Circus” is my fave. Here’s my off-the-cuff attempt to answer the above with Seussian slang:

    “Ideally, Burly Whirlie”

    Every Burly comes from Whirlie
    So alike they seem to be

    They take the hat from their back
    and grant it to another chap

    They keep their interests and disinterests
    not in their palm but rather cuff

    Never holding or unfolding
    till their measured in the buff

    Only standing when their knowing
    Leads to freeing not misleading

    Since every burly comes from Whirly
    Every Sneeze is felt throughout

    And the tissues are a plenty
    not withheld but passed about

    So the splatter is absorbed
    And the disease is taken out

    Nothings wasted
    Nothings used

    Without prudence and suffused
    to every Burly in need of pearly
    Since every Burly comes from Whirlie

  3. D.C. DaCosta says:

    A very enlightening book is “Dr. Seuss Goes to War” — political cartoons from the late ’30s and ’40s. (Some are excellent.)

    My impression from reading it (granted, some years ago) was that Seuss stood for what is right, decent, and normal…with room to dream. He imagined wonderful things…but I don’t think he would have condoned twisting or corruption of the normal.

  4. Siri Kirpal Kaur Khalsa says:

    “I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful one hundred percent.” My favorite line from Horton Hatches an Egg

  5. EDWARD says:

    OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! Actually, my favorite Dr. Seuss stories (I think his real name was Thomas Geisler) came from a biography which was written shortly after the author died. Geisler was very “hands on” about his work and was really taking his time putting the finishing touches on THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS. Both his literary agent and his wife were twisting Geisler’s arm to work faster so he could get it into bookstores THIS Christmas rather than a few Christmases from now. The biographer seemed to miss the extraordinary irony that the book being written (that is, THE GRINCH) had a theme which preached against the crass commercialism his agent and wife were insisting on. Although much of Geisler’s life seemed alienated, henpecked, and just plain sad, he seemed, though misunderstood by biographers, vindicated by his quirky work. You don’t have to read between the lines to see that many of Dr. Seuss’s books tackle many complex adult issues: like greed.

  6. Kellie Lovegrove says:

    I loved Dr. Suess growing up and I love his work more now. I used to volunteer to read to kids in elementary schools and I almost always chose Dr. Suess. I would also lead a class discussion with the older kids about the meanings behind the words. For more than one of my psych papers in college I used Dr. Suess books as subject matter (got an A on both I might add). To this day Dr. Suess rests in a place of honor on my bookshelf of favorites and I always look in book stores to see if there is one that I don’t have.

    One of my mom’s favorite stories to tell about me was when I was 3 years old. We were at the pediatrician and they had a copy of “The Foot Book.” She said I picked it up and started to “read” it a loud, turning all the pages in the right places. She had read it to me that many times. She says, “I knew you weren’t really reading it, but no one else did. I just sat up a little straighter and smiled at the other parents.”

    As far as my favorite, I would have to say it is a tie between “The Butter Battle Book” and “The Lorax.”

  7. D.C. DaCosta says:

    Actually, I’ve used “Fox in Socks” to help foreign exchange students with their English pronunciation.

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