I’m sure most people are familiar with the story of How The Grinch Stole Christmas!, but many people are more familiar with the movie versions than the actual book so I’m going to write a short summary to get across the plot of the book.
The story opens with:
Down in Who-ville
Liked Christmas a lot…”
“But the Grinch,
Who lived just north of Who-ville,
The Grinch, with a frown and pink eyes leans against a cave entrance with his hands inside of impossible pockets that seem to also be apart of his body. The unknown narrator explains that no one knows exactly why the Grinch hated Christmas, but the narrator thinks the most likely reason is that the Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small.
The Grinch was annoyed and upset by the idea of the Who‘s having a lovely happy Christmas on the next day. He imaged what tomorrow will bring; all the toys, and the NOISE NOISE NOISE! The FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! with the Who-pudding and rare Who-roast beast, but worst of all is when all the Whos stand hand-in-hand and SING! SING! SING!
The Grinch remebered, “Why, for fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now! I MUST stop this Christmas from coming!…But HOW?”
“Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!
GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!”
He made himself a Santy Claus hat and coat and grabbed his dog, Max, and tied a big horn to his head to substitute as a reindeer. Then he loaded up a sleigh with some empty sacks and made Max pull him down to Who-ville. Then the Grinch slid down the chimneys and started to steal Christmas. He took down the stockings, all the presents, and plums. He took the Who-pudding and the roast beast!
While he was stuffing the Christmas tree up the chimney he heard a small voice. Little Cindy-Lou Who had wondered out of bed and stared at the Grinch and said, “Santy Claus, why, Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?” The Grinch thought up a quick lie and told poor Cindy-Lou Who that he was taking everything back to his work shop to fix it up. Cindy-Lou Who believed him and he got her some water and sent her back to bed.
He continued this at all the Who houses until he had taken everything! Then poor Max pulled the sleigh back up to the Grinch’s mountain.
The Grinch took the sleigh to a high cliff top to dumb it over. He waited to listen for the Whos’ distress, because he knew they were just waking up and he thought they would all cry “BOO-HOO!” But instead he heard singing!
“Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,
Was singing! Without any presents at all!
He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!”
The Grinch was shocked and puzzled. He thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
The narrator states that the Ginch’s small heart grew three sizes and he whizzed down the mountain and brought all the toys, decorations and food back to the Whos and
The Grinch carved the roast beast!”
Seuss explained the reason for writing the Grinch in this quote:
“I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noted a very Grinchish contenance in he mirror. It was Seuss! Something had gone wrong with Christmas, I realized, or more likely with me. So I wrote the story about my sour friend, the Grinch to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I’d lost.”
He also commented on the lack of religious influence:
“I got hung up getting the Grinch out of the mess. I got into a situation where I sounded like a second-rate preacher or some biblical truism…Finally in desperation…without making any statement whatever, I showed the Grinch and the Whos together at the table, and made a pun of the Grinch carving the ‘roast beast’…I had gone through thousands of religious choices, and then after three months it came out like that.”
I think this image sums it all up pretty well.
This book is dedicated to Seuss’ namesake and great nephew, Teddy Owens.
Dr. Seuss used the word “Grinch” in Scrambled Egg Super! (1953) as the name of a bald headed eagle-like bird. He used it again in “The Hoobub and the Grinch” which was a 32 line poem in the May 1955 edition of Redbook.
***That sun, let me tell you, is dangerous stuff!
It can freckle your face. It can make your skin rough.
When the sun gets too hot, it can broil you like fat!
But this piece of green string, sir, will NEVER do that!
THIS PIECE OF GREEN STRING IS COLOSSAL! IMMENSE!
AND, TO YOU … WELL, I’ll SELL IT FOR 98 CENTS!”
And the Hoobub … he bought!
(And I’m sorry to say
That Grinches sell Hoobubs such things every day.)***
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! appeared in the 1957 Redbook with a lot more color than in the published book.
Seuss admitted that the Grinch was a “nasty anti-Christmas character that was really myself.” In fact, the Grinch says “for fifty three years I’ve put up with it now” and Seuss was 53 years old when he wrote the book. His step-daughter, Lark Dimond-Cates, said “I always thought the Cat…was Ted on his good days, and the Grinch was Ted on his bad days.” Seuss (aka Ted Geisel) even had “GRINCH” as his license plate.
The Cat and the Hat and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! were published in the same year and made the already well known Dr. Seuss a full blown celebrity. Sales sky-rocketed and Seuss was a staple of every American child’s library. The book was turned into a cartoon animated by Chuck Jones in 1966 which brought a whole new generation of audiences into the world of Seuss.
The original cover rides the line between orange and red. The only color on the inside is red and since the Christmas colors are red and green it suggests that the cover color should be red, but it is more of a deep orange. There was a metallic cover released that is clearly red to push the Christmas theme.
CINDY-LOU WHO and the movies:
The cartoon movie elaborated on the story and made Cindy Lou-Who more prominent. It is also the first time that the Grinch is printed in green and the eyes are changed from pink to yellow. It also introduced the now famous theme song.
In 2000 Ron Howard directed Jim Carrey in the live action version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas!. This version continues the green appearance and yellow eyes from the cartoon. It takes the story even further, elaborating on why the Grinch hated Christmas and even showing us some of his childhood. It also makes Cindy-Lou Who a main character introducing her whole family and creating a friendship with the Grinch.
All three version keep the same theme of Christmas being more than just presents and food and they all keep the religious aspect out of the picture.
I just love all of the different Whos in this picture and the curves of the table. It’s another example of how Seuss fills a page and makes you want to look at every fun little detail.
The last pages have my favorite quote. It’s such a happy ending that it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Not necessarily because the Whos are going to get all their stuff back, but because the Grinch is now happy and wants to be with them and his heart is bigger!
“And what happened then…?
Well…in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes hat day!
And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!
And he……HE HIMSELF…!
The Grinch carved the roast beast!”
Thanks for reading,