WHAT PET SHOULD I GET?

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Published by Random House 2015

SUMMARY:
What Pet Should I Get? is the story of a boy and his sister, Kay, trying to decide what pet they should get. Their dad said he would pay for them to have one, but only one. At first it is simple a matter of deciding between a dog and a cat, but then there is a puppy and a kitten added to the mix.
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In true Seussian style more and more animals are added to the list of possible pets. First come your average pets like a bird that sings, or a rabbit.

“Then I looked at Kay.
I said, ‘What will we do?
I like all the pets that I see.
So do you.

We have to pick ONE pet
and pick it out soon.
You know Mother told us
to be back by noon.”

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Instead of deciding, Kay gets distracted by a bunch of fish! There are even monkeys that they can choose from! image005

Then it really starts to get crazy as our hero imagines all the pets he could pick from! Now we go into a classic Seussian list of imaginary creatures.

“If we had a big tent,
then we would be able
to take home a YENT!
Dad would like us
to have a good YENT.
BUT, how do I know
he would pay for the tent?

So, you see how it is
when you pick out a pet.
How can you make up
your mind what to get?”

For  a moment our hero considers getting one of every kind of pet, but then he realizes his dad would be mad because he said to only get one and if they do not make up their minds soon then they will get none!

“‘I will do it right now.
I will do it!’ I said.
‘I will make up the mind
that is up in my head.”

And he does. The last image is them walking out of the pet shop with a couple of eyes peeping out of a big basket with a bow on top, but Seuss does not reveal what pet they decide on. He leaves that up to the reader’s imagination.

The end.

HISTORY: 

Unlike the short story collections that came out in 2013 and 2014 and are covered in the previous two blog posts, this was not put together by Charles D. Cohen. There is, however, a section at the back of the book titled Notes from the Publisher. There is no signature at the end or introduction that explains who the specific writer of the “notes” is, so the reader is lead to assume it is someone at Random House that is representing them as a whole.

The Notes From the Publisher section starts with a heartfelt message to the readers about the responsibilities of buying a pet.

“[When the book was written] it was common for people to simply buy dogs, cats, and other animals at pet stores. Today animal advocates encourage us to adopt them from a shelter or rescue organization and warn us never to purchase our pets from places that are supplied by puppy mills. We wholeheartedly agree and completely support this recommendation. Choosing to adopt can help save the life of an animal that may not otherwise get a second chance at finding a forever home.”

From here this section goes into some history about pets that Seuss had in his own life and includes a few pictures. I am not going to cover all of that in this post, but the first bit is too precious not to share. He actually started his pet menagerie at the age of six with a stuffed toy dog that he named Theophrastus (Seuss’ real name is Theodore Seuss Geisel.) He kept this dog for the rest of his life. Just days before his death he gave it to his stepdaughter (the closest he ever had to a child of his own.)

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The Notes section continues into some general history about the career and success of Dr. Seuss throughout the years. It is interesting information, but things that most Seuss readers know and that I have covered in other posts, so I’ll skip forward to the information about this particular publication.

When Seuss died in 1991 his wife, Audrey, found a box of various materials and projects that Seuss had been working on. She set it aside. It was rediscovered in 2013 by Audrey and Claudia Prescott (Seuss longtime secretary.) The manuscript and line art for What Pet Should I Get? were included in this rich bounty.

There is a quote from Audrey:

“While undeniably special, it is not surprising to me that we found this because Ted always worked on multiple projects and started new things all the time–he was constantly writing and drawing and coming up with ideas for new stories.”

Cathy Goldsmith (Ted’s art director for the last 11 years of his life) was able to identify the artwork as being from 1958 to 1962. She recognized the children as being the same from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish! *
7a020dab67133dd14ac34fc98025e085* from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

The manuscript that Audrey and Claudia found was not completely finished. There was text tapped in with various versions on top of each other. There were also inked in lines and parts that were too faded to read.

“Like Kay and her brother, the editors at Random House had to make decisions and stick with them. We thought very carefully about each one, and we hope Dr. Seuss would be pleased-and that you will be, too.”

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The images they found were also not complete. The line drawers were complete, but without color or color assignments. As the Art Director, Goldsmith decided to base the color palette off of One Fish, but One Fish was limited to only four colors (including black.) These colors are never mixed to make more colors, but after 1963 Seuss’ books began to have a more full color palette.  Goldsmith chose to use this book as an in-between point.

“She colored all the backgrounds and objects in Pet blue or red or yellow or black. Mixed inks were used to create the colors of the real-life pets as well as the children’s hair and skin tone.”

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My personal aesthetic would have been more pleased if they had fully committed to making the book feel like it was created and published in the 1958-1962 period of his work. I would have loved the limited color palette as well as publishing it in the size of a Beginner Book (which is what it would have been if it had been published in that time) rather than the full size of his more difficult to read books.

The writer of the Notes from the Publisher section does make the point that this book is not only about picking a pet, but also about making up your mind and Random House had to make some tough decisions and overall I think they stayed true to Dr. Seuss and published a delightful book.  
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FAVORITE QUOTE:

“I might find a new one.
A fast kind of a thing
who would fly round my head
in a ring on a string!”

The addition of the word ring in the last line is not necessary for the rhyme scheme, but it adds an extra tongue twister aspect that makes it all the more fun to say.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

This image appears twice in the story. The first time seems kind of odd because it is before any fantastical creatures are introduced. The second time feels much more appropriate because it leads into the imaginary creatures toward the end of the book. Either way, it is a delightful image with classic Seussian creatures and great Seuss style font. The whole image reminds readers that this may be newly published, but the images and the idea are classic Seuss. 
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Thank you for reading,
Jack St. Rebor

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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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“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.

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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

MY MANY COLORED DAYS

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(with dust jacket)                                                              (without dust jacket)

Published in the U.S. by Alfred A. Knopf, New York in 1996.
Distributed by Random House.
Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher.

SUMMARY:

My Many Colored Days covers a gambit of emotions expressed through color. The text of the book is very simple and poetic leaving room for full page gorgeous illustrations. Our main character is a sort of cookie-cutter shape, but as the book goes on the emotions are not only expressed through color, but also different animals. There is not really a plot, so a summary is sort of silly. Instead, here are several pages from the book so you can see how it progresses.

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“You’d be surprised how many ways I change on Different Colored Days.”

 

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Toward the end of the book we see our cookie-cutter character in all the different colors expressed throughout the book. He/she is scattered across the page.

“Then comes a Mixed-Up Day. And WHAM! I don’t know who or what I am!”

On the final page we see the different colors coming together and our main character is “back to being…me.”

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HISTORY:

There are two dedication, both at the back of the book.

To Ted, who colored my days…and my life.
– Audrey Geisel

For Denise and Frances.
– Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

This is a posthumous publication. The text was taken from a draft that Seuss wrote in 1973. On the dust jacket Audrey Geisel, Seuss’ second wife, is quoted saying:

“Though the inspiration for this book was personal, he [Seuss] felt that someone else should bring his or her own vision to it. He wanted the illustrations to be very different from his.”

There is a letter from Seuss to friend Phyllis Jackson which has shed some light on the intended publication of this work. A bit of the letter is quoted on the front of the dust jacket which suggests that Seuss seems to have had in mind

“a great color artist who will not be dominated by me.”

Philip Nel explores the letter further in his book Dr. Seuss: American Icon. He points out that Seuss also wrote in the same letter,

“Of course I would love to paint this book myself, but I have so many major Dr. Seuss books that I have got to do, I just won’t have time.”

Seuss also states in the letter that this book was,

“one of three I am working on for next year’s [1974’s] Beginner Book Bright and Early line, under different bylines. One will probably be a Seuss, one a LeSieg, and this color book probably under another nom de plume”

This seems to have been completely disregarded as the book was published under “Dr. Seuss”. I agree with Philip Nel on this one; they should have published it under “LeSieg” since it was illustrated by someone else, or they should have written a forward to explain the process. Of course, since it is a posthumous book they want to honor Dr. Seuss and put his name on it, but since we have proof that he intended to publish it under a different name, I think that should have been honored as well.

I absolutely love the illustrations and I think they do the writing justice, but it would have been nice to have a section at the beginning to give the readers some context about why it is illustrated the way it is and still published under the pen name “Dr. Seuss”.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Gray Day…Everything is gray. I watch. But nothing moves today.”

This quote just captures my slow days. I’m not necessarily sad, but I find it hard to get up and get going and I just sit around watching life instead of being apart of it.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

Especially compared to my favorite quote, this page is so alive and fun! I love these days!

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Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

 

New Dr. Seuss book!!!

 

USA Today posted some big news for Seuss lovers yesterday. There will be a new Dr. Seuss book! Looks like I started my posthumous section just in time.

Audrey Geisel (Dr. Seuss aka Theodor Geisel’s widow) seems to have a secret stash of Seuss’ notes that she teases us with every couple of years. This time it is a book called What Pet Should I Get? (a very promising title!)

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Hopefully this publication will follow in the footsteps of Charles Cohen’s (author of The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss) collections such as The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories and last years Horton and the Kwuggerbug.

Mr. Cohen does an amazing job of showing us the history of these works and including as much of Dr. Seuss original sketches as can be found. The are only updated to make them smooth and cohesive like any publication Seuss would have done himself while he was alive.

I’m hoping it will not be like Daisy-Head Mayzie; full of changed lines, obvious non-Seussian language and ridiculous attempts to copy his illustrations. Goodness me, I got a little mean there.

Either way I am very excited for this new publication! And I’ll have a post about as soon as I can get my hands on a copy!

Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

 

 

Daisy-Head Mayzie

10713142_1Published by Random House in 1994. Illustrations based on the Hannah Barbera cartoon special.

SUMMARY:

The Cat in the Hat opens the story to tell us that it really did happen. Daisy-Head Mayzie starts out as just Mayzie McGrew, a young girl sitting in class, but then all of a sudden a daisy grows out of the top of her head. Other students point it out to the teacher who tries to yank it out unsuccessfully. This causes an uproar from the class as they shout “Daisy-Head Mayzie” over and over. So, the teacher, Miss Sneetcher, removes Mayzie from class and takes her to the Principle’s office.

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The Principle, Mr. Gregory Grumm, is very smart and his office is full of books. He researches daisies to find out why there is one growing on Mayzie’s head, but he doesn’t find an answer. Then the daisy begins to wilt! At first Mr. Grumm thinks all is well because the daisy will be gone soon, but he quickly realizes that Mayzie seems to be wilting too and discerns that if the daisy dies so will Mayzie!

They make Mayzie lie down and then call her parents. Mrs. McGrew is a welder (image only – see notes below) and Mr. McGrew is a shoe salesmen. They both leave work and head to the school. The Principle also calls Dr. Eisenbart and Finch the Florist.

Meanwhile, Mayzie is laying down when a swarm of bees flies in through the window, attracted by the flower. She jumps out the window to run away from the bees. When she tries to hide behind Office Thatcher he holds his hat up and catches all of the bees in it. Then he runs after Mayzie back to the school.

Mayzie’s parents, a customer from the shoe store, the doctor and his patient and the florist are all in the Principles office causing a raucous. Then Office Thatcher and Mayzie jump in through the window and slam the pane down so the bees can’t get in. The daisy on her head has gotten taller and fatter!

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The crowd of people swarm around Mayzie. Her mother wants to faint, the florist wants to cut off the daisy, the doctor wants to use her to get a research grant. Then even more people start showing up including the Mayor! There is also a smooth talking agent named Finagle. Finagle the Agent convinces Mayzie to sign a contract with think-proof ink, even though her mother disapproves and the principle tries to tell her not to leave school. “Daisy-head” becomes a sensation!

“Daisy-Head burgers,
And Daisy-Head drinks.
Daisy-Head stockings,
And Daisy-Head sinks.
Daisy-Head buttons,
And Daisy-Head bows.
Mayzie was famous,
The star of her shows.”

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Daisy had gotten tons of money, but she has no friends. She runs away and tells herself over and over “I can never go home. Nobody loves me. Nobody loves me. Nobody loves me.” Then the daisy, doing what daisies do when they hear about love, starts plucking itself:

“They love her…
They love her NOT!
They love her…
They love her NOT!”

When the reader flips the page they see one last petal showing that “they” do love Mayzie! The Cat in the Hat takes her back to her family and friends at school. Then he sums everything up and lets the reader know that Mayzie is doing well, the flower went away, and she is back to her studies.

“And concerning that daisy…you know that it never
Grew out of the top of her head again ever!

Errr…well, it practically never popped up there again.
Excepting, occasionally. Just now and then.”

The final page is just Mayzie with the daisy on her head and she finish the story with,

“And, after all…I’m getting used to it!”

HISTORY:

The dedication reads

To the ongoing presence of
Theodor S. Geisel…Dr. Seuss
Thanks, Herb.
–Audrey Geisel

This book was published posthumously and was not illustrated by Dr. Seuss. In fact, Seuss started it as a manuscript that was finished by Hannah Babara cartoons and the book was published after the movie. Philip Nel points out several of the differences between Seuss’ sketches and the finished product in his book Dr. Seuss: American Icon. In Seuss’ earlier drafts there was no Cat in the Hat involved, the narrator was just an ordinary man. Also, in the book we see Mayzie’s mother as a welder whereas, in Seuss’ sketches, Mrs. McGrew is depicted holding a tray of dishes when they call her to tell her about Mayzie. There are other small changes, such as the teacher carrying Mayzie out of the classroom rather than following her out as she does in Seuss’ drawings.

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There are enough changes to justify some sort of introduction in the book to explain how the story came about. This is done in later posthumous works like The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, and Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. Without some sort of clarification or explanation the book just seems choppy and feels very much like an early draft. Also, the illustrations attempt to match Seuss’ style, but fail in my opinion. I had a hard time writing this post because I dislike this book and often don’t count it as one of Dr. Seuss children’s stories, but I felt it was only fair to include it since it is based on his work and published under his name.


FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Quit yanking,” Butch said. “You’re giving her pains.
I’ll bet that those roots go way down in her brains!”

It’s a simple and fun quote that reminds me that it is at least partially written by Seuss.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

I’m a bit of cheater, because this image does not appear in the book, but it is an image actually drawn by Dr. Seuss of the main character and it has all the charm and classic Seussianess that I feel the book lacks.
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Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

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Published in 1990 by Random House

Review by Booklist:

“Writers often tend to mellow in their later years, but fortunately Dr. Seuss seems just as cantankerous and quirky as ever. Life may be a ‘Great Balancing act’ but through it all ‘there’s fun to be done.'”

Review by Gannett News Service:

“Rangy, wise and wonderfully witty…This may well be a summing up on his part, his farewell with a flourish.”

SUMMARY:

little-boyOh, the Places You’ll Go begins with “Congratulations!” It is a celebration of accomplishment and exciting things to come. The first illustration is on an all white page with only a small young boy dressed in yellow walking confidently forward towards the next page. He is described only as “you.” For the next several pages he is always seen headed to the right, steadily approaching his future.

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

dsc_0009Our hero decides not to go down some “not-so-good streets.” In fact, he doesn’t like any of the streets around him so he heads straight out of town where:

“It’s opener there
in the wide open air.”

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Then things start to become a bit more Seussian! Our hero starts to approach strange new places with Horton-looking elephants. He is, once again, headed toward the next page with a confident steady stride.

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“Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.”

The next spread of pages grabs the reader’s attention with bold solid stripes taking over the pages in bright colors! For the first time we see our hero with his back to us, looking in wonder just as the reader is. ohtheplacesyoullgo_ipad_screen1large-642x481

“You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.”

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Soon our hero is in the lead with all the other balloons close behind. The hills are colorful square patches rolling off into the distance. Then Seuss slams on the breaks. Our hero’s balloon is stuck on a branch and he’s watching everyone else fly by, leaving him behind with a look of surprise on his face. The hills are now a somber blue.

places“You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.”

Then the background gets dark and squiggly! Our hero is on the ground, still moving forward, but much more hesitantly. His surroundings are lumpy and droopy in dull blues and purples.

“And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.”

Things become even stranger and more unfamiliar to our hero. He is presented with a mishmash of curvy arches and doorways in different colors. None of them are marked and there are no clear paths.hqdefaultOur hero chooses a direction, but he runs down it at full speed and becomes even more lost in an even stranger place. Then he arrives at The Waiting Place where everything is stagnant because it is a place…

“…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
Or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or a Another Change.
Everyone is just waiting.”

waitingSomehow our hero breaks free! The next page is colorful again and big and loud! There are several strange musical instruments all being played at full blast!

oh-the-places-you-ll-go-dr-seuss-screenshot-3“Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.”

Then the elephants are back in full numbers with banners held high. Our hero sits on one of their heads once again confidently heading towards the future!

imagesHe plays wild Seussian sports with crazy nets and hoops and other players popping up out of the ground!

“Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.”

“Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

Now our hero plays alone with a single ball and an old tattered hoop. He is on a crazy, rickety, old Seussian-structured house. The colors are dull and our hero has no smile.

“I’m afraid that sometimes
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.”

Once again, our hero has his back to us as he faces another strange archway, but now it’s much darker and ominous with large eyes staring at him and Tim Burton like trees on a flat landscape.pg3

“All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.”

Now for the first time our hero is facing back towards the rest of the book rather than forward toward the next page. He is in a small row boat on endless dark waters with only large wailing creatures around him. The blue of the water is heavily contrasted by the large orange cave on the next page. Our hero now pats a vicious looking creature on the nose. He is back to facing what is coming.

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“On and on you will hike.
And I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.”

Then our hero is seen in a crazy mess of birds walking on each others’ heads. Each row alternates going left and then right. All the ones going forward toward the right have smiles on their faces with their beaks held high. The birds going back toward the left are depressed with slumping posture. Our hero is turned around yet again and headed backwards. (Image can be seen in the HISTORY section of this post.)

“You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
Step with great care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act. “

Our hero gets facing the right direction again at the very tip of the bottom right corner ready to take on any challenge. He is pulling a rope with a great mountain on wheels trailing behind him.oh-the-places-youll-go-dr-seuss.jpg?w=620

“And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!

The final page ends just as the beginning started. With our hero in the exact same pose on an all white page confidently headed toward the future.

little-boy
“Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”

ABOUT:

The Morgan and Morgan biography describes this book as:

“A collection of scattered ideas tied together with the theme of hope.’

I couldn’t help but comment on the main character’s position on the page in relation to the rest of his surrounding. In the summary above I constantly refer to him facing toward the right. I think this was a very intentional choice on Seuss’ part. We read left to right so having the main character headed toward the right keeps the flow of the story moving so that we are excited to see where he ends up when we turn the page.

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The few moments that he is not turned to the right make those pages all the more powerful. When his back is turned to us we, as readers, spend a little extra time marveling at the rest of the page as he does. When he is facing backward toward the left we hesitate to turn the page in case we lose him forcing us to spend a somber moment reflecting.

Reading Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is like climbing into a car with Seuss behind the wheel. He drives the story forwards, slows it down, speeds it back up, and even slams on the breaks. This is done not only through the physical position of the hero, but also by the rhythm of his poetry, as well as, with color theory and line movement.

It can definitely be said that Seuss does this in all of his books. His ability to manipulate the reader’s emotion into not only wanting, but needing to flip the page is why he is such a successful writer. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! is merely a culmination of all his tricks of story telling.

We can see his use of color theory in the contrast between the gloomy dark blues and purples he uses when the hero is lost compared to the bright orange cave when he is ready to face up to his challenges. We see it again when there are soft pastels filling out the page as he heads gleefully toward his future in a hot air balloon, but then the page is almost void of color as he gets hung up on a bare black tree with only deep blue hills below him.

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Through all of these aspects of story telling Seuss plays with our heartstrings in a way that reaches children as well as adults of any age. This story is a heartfelt adventure that each of us goes through as a human being and also one that we go through several times in our lives. Whether we go to a new school or a new job or move to a new city, every time an aspect of our lives changes we go through this story in some way. We try, we succeed, we lead, we follow, we fail, we wait, we try again. This repetition in our own lives makes this a book worth reading over and over.

HISTORY:

It seems odd, but there is no dedication. Very few of Seuss’ “big books” do not have a dedication. I like to think it is because this book is dedicated to himself and all of his previous work as a whole.

Seuss explained the title by saying:

‘When I went to college it was a campy thing to say ‘Oh, the places you’ll go! The people you’ll meet!'”

When Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was published it went straight to the top of New York Times’ adult best-seller list and stayed on it for two years. Seuss said,

“This proves it! I no longer write for children I write for people!”

Jim Henson made an appointment with Seuss to make a video adaptation of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, but Henson died two days before they were supposed to meet. He was fifty-three years old.

Seuss also made plans with Tri-Star Productions to turn it into a full length feature film. Although it was never realized he did start to write extra material including this song:

“Searching deep in darkened places,
Reaching into vacant spaces,
I touch only shadow faces…
Where are you?
Empty caves in endless mountains,
Dusty, dry, deserted fountains…
Pathless, groping, I move hoping
Where are you?
Past songless birds on leafless trees
Cross waveless oceans, silent seas
Through fumbling nights that find no day,
I move and try to find my way…”

In 1975 Dr. Seuss wrote a verse for the New York Times entitled The Economic Situation Clarified: A prognostic re-evaluation.

“As our graph shows. Trends are trending.
This is good. Yet, nevertheless,
the destination of the trendings
is not simple to assess.

As of now, the Uppers are upping
and the Downers are droobling down
excepting on alternate Thursdays
when it works the other way round.

And there occasionally are occasions
when some Upper comes a cropper
and bottoms out at the bottom.
Then…
some Bottomer is the Topper.

Consequently, on the other hand,
I believe this can be said:
you’ll be wise if you step gently
whilst you tread on your neighbor’s head.”

A footnote at the bottom of the verse reads:

“Dr. Seuss — whose grown-up name is Theodor Seuss Geisel — says it has been 17 years since he last addressed himself to adults, and does so now because he is “plain worried about the economy.”

Seuss drew the image below on the left for that verse. The image on the right is from Oh, The Places You’ll Go! published fifteen years later. It seems Seuss used the exact same image, but replaced one of the birds with our hero and added some color.

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Even before the Economic Situation Clarified Seuss had characters walking on each others’ heads. The following image is from If I Ran the Circus which was published in 1956, thirty-four years before Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

photos089The newer cover bugs me, as usual, because it uses an image from the inside of the book rather than the original cover’s image. The original image of “you” on top of a rainbow cone-shaped mountain (seen at the top of this post) is not found anywhere else in the book so when it is taken off of the cover it is basically a piece of art just completely removed from the story!

oh_the_places_you_ll_goFAVORITE QUOTE:

“Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you. “

This quote breaks my heart every time I read it. I’m all teary-eyed just typing it out. It is so beautifully honest and something that we need to hear and accept more often as we grow up, so that it isn’t quite so shocking when it inevitably happens. If we are prepared for it then we can accept it and move forward.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

My favorite image is definitely The Waiting Place. It’s like a Where’s Waldo page of depression. I love all the detail and I don’t think there is any other page in all of Dr. Seuss’ work that has so many human figures in Seussian style.

The Waiting Place

Thanks for reading,
Jack St. Rebor

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. SEUSS!!!

flower_fish

I was hoping to put up my final post about Oh, the Places You’ll Go! today as a way of saying Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss, but it’s important to me that I don’t rush it, because it is such a wonderful book and I have a lot to say about it and a lot of history to include.

So, that post will be coming soon! In the mean time here are a bunch of my favorite quotes from the wonderful Dr. Seuss and some of his personal art that was not included in his children’s books.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DR. SEUSS! The images are in The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss as well as The Cat Behind the Hat. The quotes are from various books as well as interviews with Seuss. Take some time to pick up a Seuss book and read it out loud to a child or even just to yourself! Celebrate creativity, youth, and imagination!

Thanks for reading,
Jack St. Rebor

Don't cry because it's over smile because it happened