Published 1975 by Random House
Dr. Seuss starts out very simple in this book. First, he suggest that the reader think about colors or animals that she knows, like birds, or horses, but as quickly as page three he asks the reader to think of something completely made up; a GUFF! A Guff is a sort of puffy fluff. He does not use the words “puff” or “fluff” to describe the guff, but the image of the guff fits its name in the usual Seuss style of rhyming names with descriptors.
Next he thinks up a dessert! Of all the made up things in this image the focus is on the dessert. He gives no real description of it, other than that it is beautiful and has a cherry on top!
After thinking of colors and known animals, then made up animals and made up dessert he moves on to made up activities, like Kitty O’Sullivan Krauss’s balloon swimming pool!
Then, of course, Seuss’ next step is to take the reader to made up locations like Na-Nupp where the birds are asleep and the three moons are up. However, the birds are awake in Da-Dake where it is day time.
After Seuss presents the reader with various things to think up, he then moves on to questions the reader should ask herself. Such as, how much water can fifty elephants drink or what would you do if you met a JIBBO? There is no explanation for what a JIBBO is, we just get a sketchy image leaving us to wonder and think up a story for the JIBBO.
In typical Seuss fashion things get busier and more colorful at the end. He fills the page with lots of crazy creatures and activity when he asks the reader why so many things go to the right. This causes the reader’s eyes to scan the page taking in every detail until she is finally wiling to turn the page.
The final page is a busier and more colorful version of the first page, with bird-like creatures walking along a curved path, breaking the laws of gravity just as the text breaks the rules of reading left to right.
Like most Beginner Books there is no dedication.
Seuss described this book as a
“cabbages-and-kings job, in which I decided I would like to shock the child: lead him a certain way, get him into a plot, and then take it away from him on the next page and move him to another land or another completely different set of ideas.”
By breaking away and moving to the next subject/idea Seuss leaves the reader wanting to know more about that glimpse of a different world. Seuss doesn’t flesh it out for them so if they want to know more they have to make it up, they have to use their imagination and THINK of the rest of the story or world that they only got a snippet of.
This book was a precursor to Seuss’ final book Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Not only are the titles very similar, but it is written in the same style where each page is a new location or new idea. Oh, The Places You’ll Go is a “big book” and has a more expansive vocabulary and larger word count, but you can see Seuss beginning to form the ideas for it here in this book.
The more sketchy image below is from the Cat Behind the Hat art collection. It is fun to see the formation of Seuss’ work through his sketches and renderings.
The later paperback cover of the simplified version of Oh, The Thinks You Can Think made the entire title capitol letters and moved it to the top of the cover. It also changed to a bright blue background and instead of the birds that are found on the first and final pages the publishers chose to put the snuvs in gloves as the cover image.
I absolutely love the Seussian architecture of this image as well as the strong contrast of the black background with white text and light given off by the candle. Beautiful image.
“THINK! You can think
that you wish…”
There is so much freedom in thinking, you can think of anything that you want! Anything you wish! There is no limitation.
Thanks for reading,
Jack St. Rebor