Published by Random House in 2014
Introduction by Charles D. Cohen
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!”
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.
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!”
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!”
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. He’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.
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.)
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 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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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.”
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. Two 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.
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.”
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.
Thanks for reading,