HOORAY FOR DIFFENDOOFER DAY!

51EJD6u96CL Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1998
Text by Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky
Illustrations by Dr. Seuss and Lane Smith
Design by Molly Lench

SUMMARY:

An unnamed young boy introduces us to Diffendoofer School in the town of Dinkerville. He explains that they all love going to school there where they are taught lots of things that he suspects are not taught at most schools.

hp-1877_2z

diffendoofer-school

Then he lists off several of the teachers at Diffendoofer School that teach silly subjects

Miss Bobble teaches listening,
Miss Wobble teaches smelling,
Miss Fribble teaches laughing,
And Miss Quibble teaches yelling.

hp-1877_3z

“Miss Twining teaches tying knots,
In neckerchiefs and noodles,
And how to tell chrysanthemums
From miniature poodles.

Miss Vining teaches all the ways
A pigeon may be peppered,
And how to put a saddle
On a lizard or a leopard.”

hp-1877_4z

Our narrator saves his teacher for last. Her name is Miss Bonkers. She does not seem to have a particular subject, but she covers things like how to tell a cactus from a cow and why hippos cannot fly.

“She even teaches frogs to dance,
And pigs to put on underpants.
One day she taught a duck to sing –
Miss Bonkers teaches EVERYTHING!

Of all the teachers in our school,
I like Miss Bonkers best.
Our teachers are all different,
But she’s different-er than the rest.”

bonkers2

The principle of Diffendoofer School is Mr. Lowe. Our narrator tells us that he is a very sad man. He is constantly worried about wether or not the students are learning the right things. The students think he has false eyebrows that he takes off at night, but they do not know for sure. One thing they do know for sure is that he likes Miss Bonkers.

20150125-142011

The rest of the faculty and staff are explained with a few verses over the next several pages. They are:

Miss Clotte, the nurse
Mr. Plunger, the custodian
Mrs. Fox, the music teacher
Mr. Breeze, the art instructor
Mr. Katz, the science teacher
Mr. Bear, the gym teacher
Miss Loon, the librarian
and three McMunch’s, the cooks.

51YGDB37Q2L._AA300_

Everyone in the school gets along and has a grand old time together. Now that our narrator has introduced everyone he gets into the real conflict of the story. Mr. Lowe’s came to the cafeteria one day extra sad and nervous.

“He began to fuss and fidget,
Scratch and mutter, sneeze and cough.
He shook his head so hard, we thought
His eyebrows would come off.
He wrung his hands, he cleared his throat,
He shed a single tear,
Then sobbed, ‘I’ve something to announce,
And that is why I’m here.”

Mr. Lowe then went on to explain that for miles around every school had to take a test. The test checked who was learning what and which school was teaching the best. If Diffendoofer school did not do well they would be shut down and everyone would have to go to school in Flobbertown!

Now, Flobbertown is just the worst. It is gray and gloomy and everyone dresses the same and walks in a straight line. Their food has no flavor and they do not even have a playground.

hqdefault

Miss Bonkers was optimistic and told everyone not to worry, because she knew that everyone in Diffendoofer had learned what they needed to pass the test.

“We’ve taught you that the earth is round.
That red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more –
We’ve taught you how to think.”

img_0012

Mr. Lowe then announced that the test was in 10 minutes! At first the students were all worried, but as soon as they got the test they realized it was full of stuff they know.

“There were questions about noodles,
About poodles, frogs, and yelling,
About listening and laughing,
And chrysanthemums and smelling.
There were questions about other things
We’d never seen or heard,
And yet we somehow answered them,
Enjoying every word.”

One week later Mr. Lowe, with a big grin and lots of giggles announced that they had saved the school! Not only did they do well on the test, they got the very highest score!

Miss Bonkers was so excited that she did cartwheels and kissed Mr. Lowe on the head. Mr. Lowe was so proud of everyone that he declare the day a holiday. So, from then on that day was known as Diffendoofer Day! He also promised never to wear a frown because he knew they’d never have to go to Flobbertown.

So, they all celebrated and sang the Diffendoofer Song!

50181131

“We love you, Diffendoofer School,
We definitely do.
There surely is no other school
That’s anything like you.
You’re gribbulous, you’re grobbulous,
Each day we love you more.
You are the school we treasure
And unceasingly adore.

Oh, finest school in Dinkerville-
The only one as well-
We love you, Diffendoofer School,
Much more than we can tell.
You are so diffendooferous
It gives us joy to say,
Three cheers for Diffendoofer School-
HOORAY!
HOORAY!
HOORAY!”

The end.

HISTORY:

This is yet another posthumous publication and the dedication, once again, appears in the back. It reads:

In memory of Dr. Seuss
– Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith

It is a very clear and very simple dedication by the writer and illustrator that used the skeleton of Seuss’ unfinished project to create this fantastic tribute.

Jack Prelutsky is a writer of children’s poetry and lives in Seattle, Washington (shout out to Seattle! woo-hoo!) With titles like It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles and I’m Glad I’m Me: Poems About You it is not at all surprising that he was asked by Janet Schulman, Seuss’ long time editor, to complete a project Seuss had been working on before he died.

Lane Smith famously illustrated The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! (both written by Jon Scieszka.) Janet Schulman also requested the help of Lane Smith who happily obliged to be apart of the project.

true-story-of-the-three-little-pigs-1-638

There is a section in the back of Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! entitled How This Book Came To Be. It is the exact thing that is missing from Daisy-Head Mayzie and My Many Colored Days. It includes several beautifully printed color images of Seuss’ original sketches; many of which have versus written on them. These are paired with an explanation written by Janet Schulman. She explains that Seuss had mentioned a project to her about a zany school teacher. When Seuss died Schulman asked Seuss’ secretary, Claudia Prescott, to send whatever she could find about that particular project.

When Schulman got the documents she realized it was not enough to publish a complete story so she set it aside for years. She final pulled together Prelutsky and Smith and they completed the story.

after1Schulman also points out that much of the story was actually written by Prelutsky, but fits shockingly well with Seuss’s drafts. The illustrations are obviously mostly Smith’s, but there are clear Seuss elements, inspiration, and actual mixed-media-pasted-in images from Seuss’ previous works. The whole book has a beautiful structure and is a fitting tribute without trying to copy Seuss (like Daisy-Head Mayzie), but still includes Seuss style (unlike My Many Colored Days.)

Philip Nel sums it up quite nicely in his book Dr. Seuss: American Icon:

“the section also distinguishes Seuss’s contributes from those of his collaborators, each of whom is quite distinguished in his own right. Poet Jack Prelutsky and illustrator Lane Smith do not merely try to imitate Dr. Seuss: each brings his own distinctive style to the project, and in so doing enters into a genuine Artistic collaboration that succeeds magnificently. The result is not a Dr. Seuss book; it is a Seuss-Prelutsky-Smith book, and a good one at that.”

FAVORITE QUOTE:
I’ve already used this quote in the Summary section, but it’s a great one so here it is again:

“We’ve taught you that the earth is round.
That red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more –
We’ve taught you how to think.”

I especially like it when it is paired with this part, which comes a couple pages later:

“There were questions about other things
We’d never seen or heard,
And yet we somehow answered them,
Enjoying every word.”

As someone who works with and around the educational system these two quotes are an ideal to strive for; teaching kids fun things and most importantly teaching them to think for themselves. To use their noodles! And then seeing that reflected in kids enjoying tests; enjoying showing off what they know and wanting to learn more!

FAVORITE IMAGE:

This page does a great job of showing the wonderful balance between Seuss’ own work and the illustrations of Lane Smith, plus that cow is just so silly!02c5fea5b834874adcc83cb174ed7cde

Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s