HORTON and the KWUGGERBUG and More Lost Stories

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Published by Random House in 2014
Introduction by Charles D. Cohen

SUMMARY:
I definitely recommend reading the Introduction by Charles D. Cohen before you start in on the stories written by Dr. Seuss. It contains some wonderful insight and explanation as to why these stories were just recently published into a book. I will delve into that further in the HISTORY section below (feel free to skip the SUMMARY section, it is a long one.)

Horton and the Kwuggerbug

This fable begins with a Kwuggerbug dropping in on Horton and explaining that he knows of the whereabouts of a Beezlenut tree which contains the sweetest of nuts. When Horton questions why the Kwuggerbug would share this information with him when he could just keep it to himself, the Kwuggerbug explains that the tree is rather far away and he needs Horton’s help to get there.

“So I’ll make you a deal that I think is quite fair…
You furnish the legs and you carry me there;
I’ll furnish the brains, show the way to the tree.
then half of the nuts are for you! Half for me!”
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Immediately after Horton agrees to the deal things start to take a turn for the worst. First off, there is no actual road to the Beezlenut tree, instead they have to cross a 30 mile wide lake full of crocodiles. When Horton complains the Kuggerbug throws back at him,

“You promised you’d go. And a deal is a deal.”

Horton sees that this is true so he swims across the lake with the Kwuggerbug bossing him around the whole way. Once they get out of the water the Kwuggerbug points out a nine thousand foot high mountain that Horton has to climb! Once again Horton complains that it’s too much to ask, but the Kwuggerbug replies,

“Tut-tut!” said the bug. “Now a deal is a deal.
And don’t start to argue. No ifs and no buts.
You’ll furnish the ride and I’ll furnish the nuts.”

“The climb,” sighed poor Horton, “will kill me, no doubt,
But a deal IS a deal, and I cannot back out.”

So, Horton climbs up the mountain with the Kwuggerbug yelling insults the whole way. Once they make it to the top of the mountain Horton asks where the Beelzenut tree is. The bug points across open air to a peak dangerously far away. When Horton asks how they can hope to reach it the Kwuggerbug yells,

“A deal is a deal,” snapped the bug. “I’m the boss.
you stretch out your trunk and you put me across!”

Which Horton of course does, but once the Kwuggerbug gets to the nuts their deal turns sour.

“A deal is a deal, and I”m giving you half.
One half of each nut, as you know, is the meat.
And that is the half I am keeping to eat.
But half of each nut, as you know very well,
Is the half of the nut that is known as the shell.
The shells are for you!” laughed the bug. And he rose
And he stuffed all the shucks up the elephant’s nose!

At this point Seuss takes a moment to ask you, the reader, what you would do in such a situation. He answers for you and explains that a deal is a deal so you wouldn’t complain and you’d be terribly nice and say very politely,

“Thank you, Mr. Kwuggerbug! Thank you for these.
But they tickle my nose. So look out! I shall sneeze!”

And you’d sneeze just the way Horton does and blow the shucks out right into the Kwuggerbug, blasting him so far away that he’d land in a place where he’d never be able to get back to his Beezlenut tree!

Marco Comes Late

Marco arrived late to class. When his teacher, Miss Block, asked why he was late Marco began to stutter out an excuse, but it quickly turned into a rather large tale.

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He began by telling Miss Block that he left at a quarter past eight and hurried along because he knew he shouldn’t be late, but as he was on Mulberry Street something happened! A bird laid an egg on his book!

“I couldn’t believe it, Miss Block, but it’s true!
I stopped and I didn’t quite know what to do.
I didn’t dare run and I didn’t dare walk.
I didn’t dare yell and I didn’t dare talk.
I didn’t dare sneeze and I didn’t dare cough.
Because, if I did, I would knock the egg off.”

So, he sat down to think. As he was sitting he heard a married worm-couple yelling. The husband yelled,

“He must not, he dare not, he shall not be late!
That boy ought to smash that egg off of his head.”

But the wife disagreed and shouted back,

“That egg is that mother bird’s pride and her joy.
If he smashes that egg, he’s the world’s meanest boy!”

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While the worms were yelling Marco also heard a couple of cats start arguing. One cat yelled that Marco needed to get on his way or else his teacher would be terribly upset, while the other cat yelled that he must not move! So, Marco told Miss Block that he just sat there and didn’t know what to do.

Then the egg hatched and it yelled to Marco,

“I thank you, young fellow, you’ve been simply great.
But, now that I’m hatched, you no longer need wait.
I’m sorry I kept you till ‘leven o’clock.
It’s really my fault. You tell that to Miss Block.”

Then he flew away and Marco ran along to school. At the end of his rather tall tale Miss Block stared at him and then smiled and asked if any of it actually happened.

“Er…well,” answered Marco with sort of a squirm.
“Not quite all, I guess. But I did see a worm.”

How Officer Pat Saved the Whole Town

This is a classic snowball effect story. It starts rather simply with an Officer named Office Pat keeping the peace on the street. He sees a gnat buzzing around the head of an old cat named Thomas.

“Aha!” murmured Pat. “I see trouble in that!”

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Then Officer Pat begins to image all of the terrible things that could happen if the gnat bites the cat.

“If that gnat bites that cat, and he might very well,
That cat will wake up and he’ll let out a yell.
That’s only small trouble. I know it. But, brother,
One small bit of trouble will lead to another!

The trouble with trouble is…trouble will speard.”

Because if that cat yells then he’ll wake up three triplets named Tom, Tim and Ted who, in turn, will start to yowl and wake up the whole town. This will frighten the birds which will flap down Mulberry Street and scare the fish-market man. CA_Seuss-1-467x630He’ll toss a fish into the face of a horse pulling a wagon of pumpkins. The pumpkins will spill out onto the head of Jake Warner who is fixing a hydrant on the corner. Jake will wrench the wrong way and the water will gush onto Mrs. Minella who will open her umbrella. The Umbrella will knock Bobby Burke of his bike and he’ll fall onto the ladder of a house painter who will drop a can of paint onto the head of Don dill. This will upset Mrs. Hubble who will drop her dishes. When they crash on the ground her dog will be startled and jump in the horn on old Horn-Tooter Fritz…

“And Fritz will fall backward and scare Driver Schmitz
On his Dynamite Truck almost out of his wits!
And that Dynamite Truck, with its big load of blitz,
Will race toward that tree and, oh boy! when it hits
The whole of this town will be blown to small bits!

But lucky for us, down on Mulberry Street,
Good Officer Pat was awake on his beat.
And, quick, the brave officer swung his big bat
On the troublesome head of that troublesome gnat
And kept him from biting old Thomas, the cat,
And stopped all the trouble before it began.
He saved the whole town! What a very brave man!”

The Hoobub and the Grinch

The last tale in this collection is another fable. Once again, it starts with a simple fellow having a simple day, when a second character comes along and mixes things up. This time it’s a Hoobub enjoying the sun when up walks a Grinch with a piece of green string. He asks the Hoobub what he’ll pay for it considering it’s worth much more than the sun.
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The Hoobub finds this rather ridiculous, but the Grinch explains,

“The sun’s only good in a couple of short seasons.
For you’ll have to admit that in winter and fall
The sun is quite weak. It is not strong at all.
But this wonderful piece of green string I have here
Is strong, my good friend, every month of the year!”

When the Hoobub starts to speak the Grinch cuts him off and declares that on some days the sun doesn’t even come out, but the piece of green string can come anytime, any day! Then the Hoobub starts to change his tune and thinks that would be handy, but the Grinch doesn’t stop there. He goes on,

“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 NINETY-EIGHT CENTS!”

And the Hoobub bought it! Dr. Seuss ends this fable with a note in parenthesis

(And I’m sorry to say
That Grinches sell Hoobubs such things every day.)

HISTORY:

This collection of short stories was published three years after The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories. They both exist as publicized collections because of Charles D. Cohen who wrote the introduction for both books. He is a collector of all things Seussian and the author of the wonderful book The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss. Each of these individual stories has been previously published in Redbook or other magazines from the 1950s, but they were pretty much lost in the years that followed before Seuss became the extremely famous children’s book author that he is today.

In the introduction Charles D. Cohen points out that each of these stories contains an element that is popular in other Seuss stories. First there is Horton, the lovable, gullible elephant that we know from Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears a Who. Then there is Marco from And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street and McElligot’s Pool. Officer Pat also takes place on Mulberry Street. And in our final story we meet another Grinch, not the same one from How The Grinch Stole Christmas, but as Cohen puts it, “one who similarly believes that everyone is a mindless consumer who can be manipulated.”

HORTON/BEEZLENUT:
Horton and the Kwuggerbug is actually the second appearance of Horton. Horton Hatches the Egg was published in 1940. This short story was originally published in Rebook in January 1951. Horton Hears a Who! wasn’t published until 1954.

Beezlenuts are actually mentioned just as often in different Seuss stories as Horton is. Cohen points out that the dust-speck world of the Whos is almost boiled in Beezle-Nut oil In Horton Hears a Who. He also points out (but I actually noticed this on my own due to reading both of these books back to back at a children’s summer camp), that in Scrambled Egg Super! Beezlenut Blossoms are mentioned as the sweetest blossoms there are.

MARCO:

Seuss’ first book And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, published in 1937, lead to Marco becoming a fairly popular young boy. In 1940 the book was turned into an half-hour radio broadcast. Two year later Deems Taylor wrote Marco Takes a Walk (Variation for Orchestra) which premiered at Carnegie Hall that year (link below.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddBP019a4-U

George Pal created an animated short adaptation of Mulberry Street in 1944. (I was unable to find a video version of it, but below is a link to the IMDB page.)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036601/

Marco also appeared in McElligot’s Pool published in 1947. Marco Comes Late was originally published in in 1950 and was Seuss’ fourth story to appear in Redbook.

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OFFICER PAT:

On September 14th, 1956 Seuss signed a contract with Random House for a book called How Officer Pat Saved the Town and Other Stories, but this book never came to be. In 1957 Random House published The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas which exploded Seuss’ career. Officer Pat was dropped and Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories was published instead. Some of the illustrations for Officer Pat in this publication were taken from the Dr. Seuss Collection at the University of California in San Diego. They show more variation than the illustrations in the Oct 1950 Redbook in which the story first appeared. Cohen explains that they “are believed to have been intended for the Officer Pat book, before that contract was dissolved in favor of Yertle.”

GRINCH:

Seuss first used the word “Grinch” in 1953 to describe a bird called the Beagle-Beaked-Bald-Headed Grinch in his book Scrambled Egg Super! In the May 1955 edition of Redbook the word “Grinch” reappeared The Hoobub and The Grinch.  197546306.0Two years later we learned How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Both the Grinch that appears in the christmas tale and the Grinch that appears in this short fable are concerned with consumerism. In this story the Grinch is a salesman that knows what to say to get the Hoobub to buy. This is a parallel with Seuss’ own life at the time working as an advertiser for Holly Sugar as well as Flit bug spray. holly-sugar
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FAVORITE QUOTE:

This quote is actually included in the Introduction, but it is a quote by Dr. Seuss and I absolutely love it. It is from a Life Magazine interview on April 6, 1959

“If I start with a two-headed animal I must never waver from that concept. There must be two hats in the closet, two toothbrushes in the bathroom and two sets of spectacles on the night table. Then my readers will accept the poor fellow without hesitation and so will I.”

FAVORITE IMAGE:

It’s just classic silliness. It’s got a Seuss fish (with dead eyes) and I love that the pumpkins are jack-o-lanterns. Also, just great human faces.

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Thanks 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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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

 

Marvin K. Mooney Will you PLEASE GO NOW!

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Published 1972

SUMMARY:

There isn’t much of a story to this book. It is mostly instructions from an unseen character, we only see its arms, that is pointing to its watch and instructing Marvin K. Mooney to leave. Marvin K. Mooney is a little Seussian character, somewhat dog-like. As the unseen character asks Marvin to leave in various ways, we see Marvin acting out each new dramatic exit. He has a big smile on his face which makes leaving seem like a lot of fun, which it probably would be if you went the way Marvin was being asked:

“You can go on skates.
You can go on skis.
You can go in a hat.
But please go.
Please!”

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Eventually, we see some more Seussian ways to leave such as a Crunk-Car or a Zumble-Zay, or just in silly ways like in a bureau drawer on a camel’s hump.

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At the very end the hand with the watch has gotten HUGE and the font has taken over the page.

“I said GO and GO I meant…”

But on the very last page the hand is normal size and seems to be waving fondly as Marvin simply walks off the page with a nice smile, waving back. The text simply says:

“The time had come.
SO…
Marvin WENT.”

HISTORY:

This is another Bright & Early book with an extremely simplified vocabulary for the earliest of readers. Like most Bright & Early books it is not dedicated to anyone.

Seuss tells a story in which he met a columnist named Art Buchwald at a party, “Buchwald taunted me for having never written a political book. I went home and made him a special copy of Marvin K. Mooney, wherein I crossed out Mooney’s name everywhere and wrote in ‘Richard M. Nixon.’ Buchwald published this story in his syndicated column, and the next day, Nixon resigned. Later I was welcomed in Sydney, Australia, as the man who got rid of Nixon.”

Here is a link to the Washington Post online version of Buchwald’s column:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/19/AR2006041901099.html

The story is not quite as simple as that. Buchwald and Seuss had met a few times and were friends. Buchwald sent him a copy of his book called I Never Danced at the White House and dared Seuss to write something political in return.

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When Buchwald wanted to published Seuss’ altered Marvin K. Mooney Random House was not thrilled, but Seuss told him to do it anyway. It was nine days after it was published that Nixon announced his resignation. Seuss wrote to Buchwald, “We sure got him, didn’t we? We should have collaborated sooner.”

FAVORITE IMAGE:

Sometimes imitations of Seuss’ machines are a bit too crazy or have names that are made wackier than necessary, but this is a perfect Seussian machine. It’s got some gears, a lever, a couple joints and pipes with smoke, but most importantly it looks a bit like an animal. I think it’s just great!

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

The last line is definitely my favorite. After all the drama of the many different ways that Marvin K. Mooney could leave he simple decides to just walk away.

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Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

The LORAX

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Published in 1971 by Random House Inc.

SUMMARY:

It is almost a shame to try to put this story into summary form, because it is told so beautifully. It starts with a young boy wandering down a dark lane called The Street of the Lifted Lorax. We instantly feel the mystery, and the narrator furthers this feeling by asking:

“What was the Lorax?
And why was it there?
And why was it lifted and taken somewhere
from the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows?
The old Once-ler still lives here.
Ask him. He knows.”

The Once-ler lives at the top of a tall rickety old building with boarded up windows. We can’t fully see him, just a pair of yellow eyes and green arms. To tell us the story of the Lifted Lorax, the Once-ler requires payment. He lets down a pail on the end of a string and the small boy that represents us, the audience, throws in the odd payment of “fifteen cents and a nail and the shell of a great-great-great-grandfather snail.”

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After counting and hiding your payment he lets down a Whisper-ma-Phone to tell you the secrets of what happened. The pages up to this point are full of blues and purples and a touch of green. All cool colors that create a dark somber feel, but when the Once-ler starts to tell the story and takes us to “a long, long time back…” the pages become bright and happy. They now have lots of pinks, yellows and oranges mixed into sunnier greens and blues.

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The Once-ler starts his story with a description to match the beautiful pages:

“Way back in the days when the grass was still green
and the pond was still wet
and the clouds were still clean,
and the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space…
one morning, I came to this glorious place.
And I first saw the trees!
The Truffula Trees!
The bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees!
Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.”

We then meet some of the creatures of the land. There are the Brown Bar-ba-loots that are like small playful bears. They eat the fruits of the Truffula Trees. We also meet the Humming-Fish that splash around in the fresh ponds under the Trufulla Trees, but the Once-ler is much more interested in the trees themselves. Their tufts are softer than silk and he has an idea of exactly what to do with them.

He quickly unloads his cart and builds a small shop right then and there. He chops down a Trufulla Tree and uses the tuft to knit a Thneed. Just as he finishes his work a small creature with a great yellow mustache pops out of the trunk of the chopped down tree. The Once-ler describes him:

“He was shortish. And oldish.
And brownish. And mossy.
And spoke with a voice
that was sharpish and bossy.”

The creature introduces himself,

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.”

He asks the Once-ler what he has made out of the tree he chopped down. The Once-ler shows him the Thneed. Apparently, the Thneed is a “Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!” The Once-ler explains its many uses, such as being a shirt, a sock or a glove.

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The Lorax is convinced that the Once-ler is just greedy and the Thneed will not sell, but at that moment someone comes and buys it. Then the Once-ler builds a radio-phone and calls in the whole Once-ler family to start business! They build a Thneed factory and start chopping down trees. Chopping down just one tree at a time was too slow so the Once-ler builds a Super-Axe-Hacker which cuts down four Truffula Trees at a time.

The Once-ler doesn’t hear from the Lorax for a week, but one day he shows up at the Once-ler’s Office door and explains that the Brow Bar-ba-loots no longer have enough Truffula Fruit to eat so they have to leave. The Once-ler gives this excuse:

“I meant no harm. I most truly did not.
But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got.
I biggered my factory. I biggered my roads.
I biggered my wagons. I biggered the loads
of the Thneeds I shipped out. I was shipping them forth
to the South! To the East! To the West! To the North!
I went right on biggering…selling more Thneeds.
And I biggered my money, which everyone needs.”

thneeds

At this point the colors of the illustrations start to change. The sky becomes duller and the clouds are polluted with blues and purples. Next, the Lorax brings the Swomee-Swans which can’t sing because of the “smogulous smoke!” So they have to fly far away to find somewhere cleaner. As they fly away we can see that the tufts of the trees close to the factory are now all grayish-purple and starting to look droopy.

The Lorax pulls the Once-ler through the Thneed factory showing the reader what the inside looks like. There are vats of slime being churned and slurped through hoses into other vats.

“Your machinery chugs on, day and night without stop
making Gluppity-Glup. Also Schloppity-Schlopp.
And what do you do with this leftover goo?…
I’ll show you. You dirty old Once-ler man, you!”

The Lorax shows the Once-ler, and the reader, the mucked up ponds where the Humming-Fish used to hum, but now they can’t because their gills are all gummed. So they walk off on their fins looking for clean water. At this point the Once-ler gets mad and yells at the Lorax, pointing his green finger right in the Lorax’s face.

“Now listen here, Dad!
All you do is yap-yap and say, ‘Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad!’
Well, I have my rights, sir, and I’m telling you
I intend to go on doing just what I do!
And, for your information, you Lorax, I’m figgering
on biggering and BIGGERING and BIGGERING and BIGGEREING,
turning MORE Trufulla Trees into Thneeds
which everyone, EVERYONE, EVERYONE needs!”

Just at that moment they hear a loud whack! The very last Truffula tree had been cut down. The whole Once-ler family leaves, because without the trees there is no more work to be done. The Once-ler is now left alone in his huge empty factory. The Lorax doesn’t even say a word. He just gives the Once-ler a sad backward glance and lifts himself up through the air and leaves through a small hole in the smog, never to return.

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The only thing the Lorax left behind was a small pile of rocks with the word “UNLESS”. Through the years the Once-ler couldn’t figure out what the word meant, but when he sees the small boy and tells the story of the Lifted Lorax he realizes the meaning of the Lorax’s message.

“UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It’s not.”

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He throws a small seed down to the boy and explains that it is the last Truffula seed. He asks the boy to plant the seed and to give it clean water and grow a whole forest, because Truffula trees are something that everyone needs. He goes on to say that if the forest is protected from axes,

“Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.”

The end.

ABOUT:

042610 The Lorax image Seuss

The image above does not actually appear in the book. It is photoshopped, but it does a great job of summarizing the moral of the story. The message is clear and strong; UNLESS you (as in everyone as individuals) make an effort to do something about the environment it is going to continue to be destroyed by corporations making products that advertising makes us feel that we need!

I honestly feel that this is Seuss’ best told story. It is beautifully illustrated and in a way that makes the words that much more powerful, but this doesn’t mean that Seuss cuts down on descriptiveness. He uses both words and illustrations to create a complete world that we, as the readers, are fully immersed in. It  also uses more subtle story telling devises. The first thing we see is a sign that says “The Street of the Lifted Lorax” which sparks are interested. The last time we see the Lorax he lifts himself away, leaving the pile of rocks that says UNLESS. The pile of rocks is actually the second major things we see at the beginning of the book, we just don’t get to see the word UNLESS until the very end. This inclusion of some of the final elements of the story in the very beginning creates a full circle feel. The entire book/story is well thought out from beginning to end.

Also, by including just a touch of water in the drip of the faucet and the sad looking cactus on the Once-ler’s tower, Seuss is actually pointing out the lack of water and greenery, which is sharply contrasted by the green hills, beautiful trees and clean pond when we see the land the way it used to be.

“It’s one of the few things I ever set out to do that was straight propaganda…It was also the hardest thing I have ever done, because the temptation was to fall into the same traps the others had fallen into…”

By telling the story from the Once-ler’s perspective Seuss avoids lecturing his audience. He felt that other stories about conservation come off as preachy and full of statistics. Instead, we are being shown an example of how to learn from someone else’s mistake through a fun narrative. Although, the Once-ler is intentionally never fully shown and therefore can not be identified as human, we are meant to relate to his need for material things and more importantly money. By the end of the story we realize the Once-ler may be the bad guy, but then so are we.

Seuss gives us hope by revealing the seed, and a chance for change, represented by the young boy, but he doesn’t leave us completely satisfied. He ends the story saying the creatures “may come back” not “will come back.” This shows us that the damage is done, but that things can be fixed. If he left it completely resolved we would not feel a sense of responsibility that stays with us long after putting the book back on the shelf.

thneed

HISTORY:

The Lorax is dedicated to “Audrey”, Seuss’ second wife, and her daughters, “Lark and Lea” “With Love.”

This book did not become super popular until a decade later when environmentalism became a big issue. At first it sold a bit slowly. Seuss readers were a bit confused by it, but Seuss often said it was his favorite book. Eventually it was picked up by many elementary schools to teach conservation. Elliot Elementary school in Lansing, Michigan even started a group called “The Loraxes” that protested cutting down trees, started petitions and planted trees.

Seuss received an award from Keep America Beautiful in November of 1971. The character the Lorax is still used as a symbol for environmentalism 42 years later.

Bill Baily sold logging equipment in Laytonville, California in the late 80’s. In 1989 his son, Sammy, after reading The Lorax in school, claimed his father didn’t love trees anymore. Bill and his wife tried to have The Lorax removed from the elementary reading list because it was anti-logging.

Bill Baily was not the only one who felt attacked by The Lorax. In 1997 Terri Birkett wrote a book called Truax which mimics The Lorax in style. It is about Guardbark, who is a human shaped tree creature, yelling at a logger named Truax. The story comes to the conclusion that logging is needed and useful and that loggers plant new trees so its okay. Guardbark is convinced and flies away leaving the logger surround by smiling creatures.

company_truax_cover   Truax1

Here is a great summary of the book:

http://www.buildingalibrary.com/miscellany/this-book-actually-exists-the-truax-%E2%80%93-a-parody-of-the-lorax-from-the-national-oak-flooring-association/68

Seuss’s response to criticism of The Lorax was:

The Lorax doesn’t say lumbering is immoral. I live in a house made of wood and write books printed on paper. It’s a book about going easy on what we’ve got. It’s anti-pollution and anti-greed.”

Seuss was willing to make one change to The Lorax. There was originally a line that said, “I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie.” In 1984, fourteen years after that line was first published, a couple of research associates from Ohio Sea Grant Program asked Seuss to change the line to past-tense since Lake Erie had been cleaned up. In all future publications the line is simply omitted.

OTHER VERSIONS:

In 1972 an animated version of The Lorax was release. Newsweek described it as,

“a hard-sell ecological allegory, stabbing mainly at big business through a deceptively gentle blend of gorgeous colors, superb animation, and a rippling imagery of words and pictures.”

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The message was actually softened slightly, but the animation style and plot was kept generally the same. We never see the Once-ler, other than as a pair of green arms, just like in the book.

Seuss claimed his favorite part was at the very end when “Maybe Not” was superimposed over “The End.” Which leaves the feeling of uncertainty that the end of the book has:

“Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.”

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Just recently, in 2012, Universal Studios release The Lorax the motion picture. I always have a hard time with feature length versions (whether they are live action or computer animation) of Dr.Seuss books, because so much of what I love about his books comes from the poetry and the illustrations. I am not going to say I love this movie, but I do think it does a great job of appealing to today’s younger audiences.

MV5BMTU1MTAwMjk1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI5NDc4Ng@@._V1_SX214_ I’m trying not to be a grumpy purist. I’m assuming it helped book sales and turned a whole new generation of young readers into Seuss fans. If that is the case then it’s a good thing. I have a problem with the fact that there is a love story thrown in and that we see the Once-ler and he is very much human. It took some of the mystery out of it, but it is fun and has the same general message of pollution being bad and that we shouldn’t abuse nature. The computer animation is beautifully done and the voice acting is very fun. I would recommend it to people with young children, but I would say it should be quickly followed by an introduction to the book if the child doesn’t already read Dr. Seuss.

lorax-scenery-splash

FAVORITE IMAGE:

I’m kind of cheating on this one. This image does not actually appear in the book, but it is illustrated by Dr. Seuss and I just love the green and purple, with the little Lorax popping out of the tree. I would love to have this as a painting on my wall.

Truffala_trees

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Now all that was left ‘neath the bad-smelling sky
was my big empty factory…
the Lorax…
and I.”

This line stuck with me for some reason. It is sort of haunting. After all the production of the thneeds was over the Once-lers family leaves him behind so that he has to face the polluted sky and land all alone. The Lorax doesn’t even speak to him, he also leaves the Once-ler in the mess he’s made.

Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

I Can Draw it Myself By Me, Myself: with a little help from my friend Dr. Seuss

41e3T6f3XTLPublished 1970

SUMMARY:

The book starts with a narrator telling us about finishing some drawings that Dr. Seuss needed help with.

“Dr. Seuss didn’t finish
this picture of Fred.
So I helped him out,
and I drew Fred a head.
And then I took care
of a fellow named Pete.
I saw that Pete needed
a couple of feet.”

This continues on each new page. There are incomplete drawings that the narrator says he/she has finished. It becomes clear pretty quickly that we, as the reader, are also the narrator. We are meant to complete the pictures and therefore be able to say, as the narrator does,

“I can draw noses
for girls smelling roses.
I can draw fingers
And I can draw toeses.
The more I keep drawing,
The better I get!”

This is an interesting concept, because we also eventually see the narrator as a small Cat in the Hat. It looks like the Cat in the Hat’s son from I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today, but it is clear that the reader is meant to complete the pictures. As an adult, this is hard for me to follow and kind of confusing, but in a child’s mind the small Cat in the Hat is simply a guide. He encourages the child reader to complete the drawings, not by telling her to, but by showing off his own confidence in his drawings, therefore making it seem easy and fun for the reader.

The book ends with a large blank space and the little Cat saying,

“And finally, up here,
in this solid gold frame,
I drew a BIG SOMETHING.
Then I signed my name.
BIG SOMETHINGS aren’t easy.
They’re hard for a kid.
But I can draw one by myself.
AND I DID!”

He is still there to provide confidence for the reader, but he isn’t guiding them this time. He doesn’t tell them what to draw or what is missing from the picture. There is no half finished image. It is just a blank space. He walked them through the book and now he is letting the reader use only their imagination to create something that is just theirs.

ABOUT:

Seuss also wrote another book called My Book about Me in the same year. It was actually published before I Can Draw It Myself, but I’m adding it as a side note here because Seuss did not illustrate it, therefore it doesn’t fit my criteria of Children’s books that Dr. Seuss wrote AND illustrated.

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Once again, this book is written in a way that the reader is also the narrator. The book is about him/her. It starts with,

“First of all
There is one thing
you should know
Am I boy?
Or am I a girl?
Well,
I’ll tell you so
I am a
…………………”

This is obviously a touchy subject nowadays and is not as black and white an answer as it used to be considered, but still, child development shows that it is important for a child to distinguish which gender they relate to more, regardless of their biological sex. So, even with more liberal thoughts on the subject this question still holds and is an important one for children to ask themselves.

The rest of the book continues in a similar manner. It is laid out as factual statements with blanks for the reader to fill in. Such as height, weight, favorite color, etc. It also says how many teeth you have (you are suppose to count them, top and bottom.) Then it starts to become more creative, no longer just filling in blanks, but drawing the style of you hair or the placement of your freckles.It also begins to move past questions about you, the reader, as a person and moves onto where you live. Such as, what country, what type of location (city, farm, desert, etc.)

mybook2

I paired these two together in a single post, because of the similarity of their titles and structure. My Book About Me was the first and only book to be illustrated by another artist and still be originally published under the name Dr. Seuss. Usually when Seuss did not illustrate a book, but still wrote it, he used the pen name “Theo LeSeig” (Theodore being his first name and LeSeig being Giesel, his last name, spelled backwards…”Seuss” is actually his middle name.)

Most of Seuss’ books that were originally published under the pen name Theo LeSeig are now published as Dr. Seuss books because Dr.Seuss is obviously a more famous and recognizable name. The themes of the two books are so similar and they were published in the same year so I felt that it was appropriate to add it to this post.

Both books encourage Seuss’ readers to use his creativity as inspiration for their own creativity. I Can Draw it Myself helps guide the reader into eventually making their own creation at the end. My Book About Me gives several options, but also leaves blanks for readers to fill in with whatever imaginative response they can think up. Both provide interactive reading which helps strengthen readers confidence not only in their reading/art skills, but also in their personal identity.

HISTORY:

Neither book has a dedication. The original publication of I Can Draw It Myself doesn’t even have a title page. It was published in a completely different format than previous Seuss books. It was presented as an over-sized (16″x12″) coloring book with a plastic comb binding running along the top, so that pages flipped up like a calendar. This allowed for full page spreads for children to color on rather than split pages with the binding in the middle. Seuss called it “a revolt against coloring books.”

Later editions resorted back to the normal format for Seuss books. They were hardcover and bound down the left side. This created a problem because it cut pages in half and made the pages lift in the center when you opened it, which was difficult to color. It was republished in 2011 as a paper back so it is now easier to flatten and crease the pages to stay down. It also comes with crayons so it is a more full package deal.

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Originally, My Book About Me had a space in the center where you could put your photo to show that this was indeed a book about YOU. The newer editions show the same creature from the first edition, but now it has a crayon. This is probably to show that it is an interactive book that you write in. Another edition adds stickers and puts “All” in the title as well, it also no longer lists the illustrator on the front.

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

“I love to draw whiskers,
and Mr. McGrew
didn’t have even one.
So I drew him a few.
(I drew him some eyebrows and eyelashes, too.)

Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

The FOOT BOOK

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Published 1968 by Random House

SUMMARY:

This book is short enough that I can actually just type out the entire thing here.

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 “Left foot, Left foot
Right foot, Right.
Feet in the morning.
Feet at night.
Left foot, Left foot, Left foot, Right.
Wet foot, Dry foot.
High foot, Low foot.

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Front feet, Back feet.
Red feet, Black feet.
Left foot, Right foot.
Feet, Feet, Feet.
How many, many
feet you meet.

dr-seuss-the-foot-book
Slow feet, Quick feet.
Trick feet, Sick feet.
Up feet, Down feet.
Here come clown feet.
Small feet, Big feet.
Here come pig feet.
His feet, Her feet.
Fuzzy fur feet.

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In the house,
and on the street
how many, many
feet you meet.
Up in the air feet,
Over a chair feet.
More and more feet
Twenty-four feet
Here come
more and more…………..
……….and more feet!
Left foot. Right foot.
Feet. Feet. Feet.
Oh, how many
feet you meet!”

HISTORY:

There is no dedication. This is the first book that Seuss wrote after his first wife, Helen’s, death and before he married his second wife, Audrey. It was written in the winter of 1967 while he was dealing with the financial and business gaps that Helen’s death left behind, and while Audrey divorced her first husband so she could marry Seuss.

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This is also the first of the Bright and Early Books which were written for a “pre-reader” audience. It has even less words than Cat in the Hat which was written on a bet that Seuss couldn’t use only 50 words to write a book. He won the bet for Cat in the Hat and in this book used only 46 words total (including small words like a, the, and, at, etc.) If you omit the small words he used only 34 vocabulary words!

The Bright an Early Board Book cover adds the quote “Dr. Seuss’s Wacky Book of Opposites”, which is true for the most part and is most likely simplified on the inside to only include the parts that are opposites like “up feet, down feet,” and “wet foot, dry foot,” etc. The board books cut out chunks of the stories so it probably doesn’t have moments like “here come clown feet” or “fuzzy fur feet.” They also chose to make the colors on he book opposite to what they original were, with a green back ground and white text instead of the other way around.

The candy-cane spine cover went for a completely different look with the “front feet, back feet” creature instead of our narrator that we see start and end the book on the inside.

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FAVORITE IMAGE:
This isn’t quite the full page, but I really enjoy the image of lots and lots of feet crossing the pages toward the narrator. Very fun and colorful.

foot book

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“In the house,
and on the street,

How many, many
feet you meet.”

The purpose of the book is to teach very young children very simple vocabulary, but I like the idea of a subtle message suggesting that the feet represent the different types of people we meet in life and how they’re all interesting and worth learning about.

Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor