Fox in Socks

small Fox-in-Socks-coverPublished 1965  BEGINNER BOOKS A Division of Random House

Philip Nel, the author of Dr. Seuss: American Icon, describes Fox in Socks as “taking rhyme, alliteration, consonance, and assonance to their illogical extremes, Seuss reduces words to sounds, amusing to say, but distracting from sense.”


As soon as you open the cover you are shown a warning to read the book slowly because it is “dangerous.”


It starts off nice and simple with an image of  a fox with the word “fox” next to it. It also shows us socks, box and a character named Knox.


Then we start to see these words put into sentences, such as, “Knox in box. Fox in socks.” Then a touch more complicated, “Knox on fox in socks in box.” This is flipped around to, “Fox in socks on box on Knox.” The visual changes with the words so that the socks are at the top of the page and the fox is doing a hand stand on the box which is on top of Knox’s head. Leading the reader down the page.

Then we learn that the fox is narrating the story. He introduces Knox to some new words. Chicks and bricks, blocks and clocks. These items get stacked in various ways created several fun tongue twisting sentences.

“First, I’ll make a
quick trick brick stack.
Then I’ll make a
quick trick block stack.
You can make a
quick trick chick stack.
You can make a
quick trick clock stack.”

Fox-in-Socks (2)

As the sentences get more complicated Knox pleads with the fox,

“Please, sir. I don’t
like this trick, sir.
My tongue isn’t
quick or slick, sir.
I get all those
ticks and clocks, sir,
mixed up with the chicks and tocks, sir.
I can’t do it, Mr. Fox, sir.”

The fox apologizes and tries to make the phrases easier for Knox with,

“Who sees who sew
whose new socks, sir?
you see Sue sow
Sue’s new socks, sir.”

But Knox does not think that that is easier. This goes on; the fox shows Knox new tongue twisting phrases claiming that they are easy, when really they become more and more complicated. Each time, Knox says he simply can’t say it.

Finally the fox pulls Knox in close, staring him straight in the eyes and asks him to say,

“Through three cheese trees
three free fleas flew.
While these fleas flew,
freezy breeze blew.
Freezy breeze made
these three trees freeze.
Freezy trees made
these trees’ cheese freeze.
That’s what made these
three fleas sneeze.”

Knox burst out,

“Stop it! Stop it!
That’s enough, sir.
I can’t say
such silly stuff, sir.”

But the fox pushes it one more time. He tells Knox about the tweetle beetles. He starts off simple, but then builds up to:

“When beetles
fight these battles
in a bottle
with their paddles
and the bottle’s
on a poodle
and the poodle’s
eating noodles…
…they call this
a muddle puddle
tweetle poodle
beetle noodle
bottle paddle battle.


But just as the fox about to expand on the tweetle beetle battle situation, Knox simply can not take it any longer and he grabs the fox and shoves him in the bottle with the battling tweetle beetles and gives the fox a taste of  his own medicine with this tongue twister:

“When a fox is
in the bottle where
the tweetle beetles battle
with their paddles
in a puddle on a
noodle-eating poodle,
THIS is what they call…
…a tweetle beetle
noodle poodle bottled
paddled muddled duddled
fuddled wuddled
fox in socks, sir!”

And he leaves the fox with a wave and a smile on his face as he says,

“Fox in socks,
our game is done, sir.
Thank you for
a lot of fun sir.”

The book ends with a sign just like at the beginning, but this time it reads “Now is your Tongue Numb?”


The dedication reads:

Mitzi Long and Audrey Dimond
of the
Mt. Soledad Lingual Laboratories”

This is a very noteworthy dedication, not only because it is the first Beginner Book to have a dedication, but also because Audrey Dimond was Seuss’ second wife. At the time of this dedication she was married and had two children and Seuss was still married to his first wife Helen. Seuss was immediately taken with Audrey and she and her husband become “family friends” of the Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss’s real name was Theodore Geisel.) Seuss and Audrey eventually had an affair, but not during this time. That came later and I will touch on it more and on his first wife’s suicide in a later post since they happened during a different children’s book publication.

Mitzi was just another friend that lived in the La Jolla area where the Seuss’ resided and the Mt. Soledad Lingual Laboratories was a made up location that Seuss and Audrey joked about, because Seuss claimed that Audrey was the only adult that could say his tongue twisters out loud.

The newer cover took out the quote that is on the original cover. It reads:

“This is a book you READ ALOUD to find out
just  how smart your tongue is. The first time you
read it, don’t go fast! This Fox is a tricky fox.
He’ll try to get your tongue in trouble.”

It also brightens the background to a sunshine yellow and shows the fox in one of his poses that is in the book.



My favorite quote is definitely the climax of the beetle battle. It’s just fun to say and the images are hilarious.

fox-in-socks (1)

“When beetles
fight these battles
in a bottle
with their paddles
and the bottle’s
on a poodle
and the poodle’s
eating noodles…
…they call this
a muddle puddle
tweetle poodle
beetle noodle
bottle paddle battle.”


My favorite image comes early on in the book. It’s of Knox and the fox doing handstands with clocks balancing on their feet. I just love how helpless poor Knox looks, and yet the fox is so excited about it!


Thanks for reading,

Jack St. Rebor


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