Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!!
March 2 is Dr. Seuss' birthday. To honor him, I'd like to share some of my affection for his books and his great talent as an author and illustrator. I can't really remember ever NOT liking books. And, as many of us did, I cut my reading teeth on Dr. Seuss. Why did we love him so much? Was it the quirky, bendy pictures which filled the pages? Was it the catchy rhyming that you couldn't help but read out loud? Whatever it was, I read Dr. Seuss over and over again.
Now, the image we have come to associate with Dr. Seuss is the cat in the hat. Not sure why since as an adult I find the story just a teeny bit disturbing.
"How could you say that?!" a librarian once asked me in disbelief. "It's a classic."
Yes, it is a classic. But let us consider the story. A mother leaves her two children alone. A stranger comes in unannounced and uninvited. He creates havoc. There is a boat in a cake, and he sets a bad example with a ball. He brings in a box with horrible creatures inside which are loosed. They have no known names, but are only referred to as "Thing 1" and "Thing 2". More havoc. More danger. The only voice of reason is a goldfish, which in and of itself tells you how bad things really are, because (as we all know) goldfish are not very ethically-informed creatures (they will eat each other if given the chance!!). The tension really heightens when mother is about to enter the house. Whatever mother finds-in my opinion-she deserves for leaving her kids alone. The stranger cleans things up and hides all of the evidence of his visit, which does not seem like it has been that much fun for the kids anyway. And the book ends on a particular interesting note which invites us in to the moral dilemma:
Then our mother came in
And she said to us two,
"Did you have fun?
Tell me. What did you do?"
And Sally and I did not know
What to say.
Should we tell her
The things that went on there that day?
Should we tell her about it?
Now, what SHOULD we do?
What would you do
If your mother asked you?
Isn't that brilliant? I have my own epilogue to this story when I read it to my kids which goes something like this:
Of course, you should tell me if the Cat in the Hat or ANY stranger comes in here and messes with our stuff. Don't you dare let anyone in this house unless I say it is okay. I don't care if it is the Cat in the Hat.
Here's my favorite Dr. Seuss book.
Of course, you recognize this guy: Sam I am.
He's such a glass-half-full kind of...er...creature. Does he let a little odd coloring spoil his day or his appetite? Absolutely not! He is adventurous, and he wants his good friend....er...the unnamed guy to lighten up. Just try the green eggs and ham. Sam I am doesn't put it on a more attractive plate to change the unnamed guy's mind; instead he tries changing the location of the guy. I don't see how being with a mouse or a goat would IMPROVE one's appetite, but I just love Sam I am for his never-give-up attitude. I do wonder though why it was so important to Sam I am for his green eggs and ham to be eaten. And what previous run-ins had these two had that this guy
didn't like Sam at the opening of the book. Perhaps someone more gifted in children's books might want to consider a prequel. I certainly would like to know the beginning of their relationship. What ticked this guy off FIRST about Sam I am. And why does Sam I am even bother?
I would think that since most of the quoted verse is by the no name guy, then he is the main character, and yet we never find out what his name is. Is there any other great literary work in which the protagonist is not even named? How very clever of Dr. Seuss to purposely not name the protagonist which subtly suggests that in his stubborn closed-mindedness, he has no true identity.
Well, I'm off to find some striped tights and go read a book to the school to continue in my celebratory day. Thank you, Dr. Seuss, for your part in creating in me a love of reading.