Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Oh,_the_Places_You'll_Go

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.

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“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

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Hunches in Bunches

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Published 1982 by Random House

SUMMARY:

The story opens with a young boy sitting and twiddling his fingers trying to think of what to do. He has the fidgets and can’t make up his mind.

“It’s awfully awfully awful
when you can’t make up your mind!”

hunch01He starts to list the many things that he could do, like play football or go skating or climb a tree. He calls all of these things hunches, but he gets so many hunches that he doesn’t want to pick one and find out that it’s the wrong one.

On the next page, and for the rest of the story, each hunch takes on a physical appearance. They’re all different looking humanoid-Seussian-creatures and they all have big glove-like fuzzy hats on their heads.

The first hunch to appear is a Happy Hunch that tries to lead him outside to play, but then a Homework Hunch rolls in and tells him he can’t play outside. Luckily, a Better Hunch comes along and hanks the hat off of the Homework Hunch.

Just as he’s about to go off with the Better Hunch a Sour Hunch tells him his bike is rusting and he needs to go oil it. Then a Very Odd Hunch asks him if he needs to go to the bathroom.

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Then an unseen Hunch says,

“‘That mind of yours,’ I heard him say,
‘is frightfully ga-flupped.
Your mind is murky-mooshy!
Will you make it up? Or won’t you?
If you won’t, you are a wonter!
Do you understand? Or don’t you?
If you don’t, you are a donter.
You’re a canter if you can’t.
I would really like to help you.
But you’re hopeless. So I shan’t.”

Next a Spookish Hunch shows up pointing four different ways, but our hero is smart enough not to follow that hunch, because he knows if he does he will probably end up on an dead-end road in West Gee-Hossa-Flat!

He avoids the Four-Way Hunch, but quickly falls into the trap off following a Nowhere Hunch.

“Everybody sometimes does it.
Even me. And even you.
I followed him in circles
till we wore the rug right through.”

Luckily, an Up Hunch blows by and tells him to stop going around and try going up! So our hero follows the Up hunch into some fresh air, but when he gets to the top he is met by a Down Hunch that tells him never to trust an Up Hunch and instead to go back down. When he goes back down he is surrounded by all different kinds of Wild hunches throwing, “crunchy hunchy punches.”

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Then a Super Hunch yells,

“Make up your mind! Get it done!
Only you can make your mind up! You’re the one and only one!”

Our hero realizes that he alone can’t make up his mind. To get it done it’ll take two of him! Or maybe even three or four! It actually takes even more of him. They all yell and shove and talk all of the hunches over until they decide what to do.

Finally, he decides to follow a Munch Hunch and goes to the kitchen to have six hot dogs for lunch.

HISTORY:

Hunches in Bunches is the first big book in 9 years since Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are. The illustrations are stronger and feel more classic; there are different patterns on each individual hunches clothing, the stairs that the Up Hunch takes are perfectly and precariously placed. It is also the only Big book without a dedication.

It was strange to read the words “video games” in a Dr. Seuss book, but it is his first book written in the 80s. Hand shapes on hats have been seen before in the only live action Dr. Seuss movie made in his life time called The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (not based on a book.)

The message of the book is to kids (video games vs homework, going down town with a friend vs a parental voice telling you to go to the bathroom) but, like all Dr. Seuss books, the message is still relevant to adults. It can be more specifically applied to people in their 20s and 30s trying to decide what direction to go in their lives, but we all have Dead-End Hunches, Up Hunches, Down Hunches etc. The ending brings us back to the child-like thought of just simply going to get something to eat. It is unexpected after a long build up, but it is something we can all relate to (we all need to eat and take a break from deciding what we’re doing all the time. )

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

I think this quote sums up the main message of the book. We all have scattered thoughts sometimes and can’t decide what to do, but no one can make up our minds for us.

“‘That mind of yours,’ I heard him say,
‘is frightfully ga-flupped.
Your mind is murky-mooshy!
Will you make it up? Or won’t you?
If you won’t, you are a wonter!
Do you understand? Or don’t you?
If you don’t, you are a donter.
You’re a canter if you can’t.
I would really like to help you.
But you’re hopeless. So I shan’t.”

FAVORITE IMAGE:

I love this perilous looking stack of stone steps. Perfect example of Seussian structure.

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Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

Oh say can you Say?

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Published 1979 by Random House

Tagline on the cover reads:

“Oh my brothers!
Oh my sisters!
These are
TERRIBLE TONGUE TWISTERS!”

SUMMARY:

Like the last several Beginner Books that Seuss wrote during the 70’s Oh Say Can You Say? is not plot driven. It also does not have a “threw-character” that guides us from beginning to end (not Cat in the Hat in this one.) It is broken up into several tongue twisters. Most of the tongue twisters have a title that is presented in the drawing that goes with it.

The first tongue twister is titled Oh Say Can You Say. The illustration that goes with it is of a parrot in distress reading from a book of the same title. This is the same parrot that is on the cover of the actual book.

“Said a book-reading parrot named Hooey,
‘The words in this book are all phooey.
When you say them, your lips
will make slips and back flips
and your tongue may end up in Saint Looey!'”

The list of tongue twisters by title is as follows:

1. Oh Say Can You Say

2. Fresh, Fresher, Freshest

3. Dinn’s Shin

4. Bed Spreader, Bread Spreader

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5. Ape Cakes, Grape Cakes

Then they are broken up by a small interlude that reads,

“Are you having trouble
in saying this stuff?
It’s really quite easy for me.
I just look in my mirror
and see what I say,
and then I just say what I see.”

6. Now let’s talk about MONEY! (which is more of a two-parter with Grox Boxes on one page and Simple Thimble/Single Shingle on the other page)

7. Eat at Skipper Zipp’s

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Then a small bird in the corner says in small font:

“And if your tongue
is getting queasy
don’t give up.
The next one is EASY.”

8. The Fuddnuddlers (which is not particularly easy.)

9. Quack Quack!
(which goes together with another one about Schnacks, but is not titled separately.)

10. West Beast, East Beast

11. Pete Pats Pigs

12. Fritz Food, Fred Food

13. How to tell a Klotz from a Glotz (which comes with a drawing of two goats, one of which is the title page at the beginning of the book.)

14. What would you rather be when you grow up?

15. More about Blinn (the man from #3 Dinn’s Shin) (also has a second part about Gretchen von Schwinn)

16. Rope Soap, Hoop Soap

17. Merry Christmas Mush

18. And, Speaking of Christmas… (two tongue twisters focused on gifts for dad. The Slim Jim Swim Finn and the Bright Dwight BIrd-Flight Night-Sight Light.)

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19. But Never Give Your Daddy a Walrus

And before the last tongue twister we see the very stressed book-reading parrot at the bottom of the page with the words:

“And that’s almost enough
of such stuff for one day
One more and you’re finished
Oh say can you say?…”

The last one does not have a title, but it is presented on the center of a rain filled page.

“The storm starts
when the drops start dropping.
When the drops stop dropping
then the storm starts stopping.”

HISTORY:

This is one of the few Beginner Books to have a dedication. The dedicated reads

“For
Lee Groo
the Enunciator”

The Enunciator was the nick name for his younger stepdaughter. I find this to be a very noteworthy dedication because his first dedication in a Beginner Book was not only also for a tongue twister book, Fox in Socks, but was also for Lee’s mother, Audrey Dimond. If you haven’t read any of my previous blogs then you’ll find it interesting to know that Seuss dedicated Fox in Socks to Audrey while he was till married to his first wife, Helen. I guess the tongue twister skill runs in the family.

I really enjoy the way Philip Nel explains, in his book Dr. Seuss: American Icon, Seuss’ use of language. “Seuss…demonstrates that language can be used for one’s amusement as well as for communication with others.” I think Oh Say Can You Say is a prime example of using language for amusement.

Seuss, himself, had this to say about one of his tongue twisters. “It can’t be done after three martinis. It’s a two-martini tongue twister.”

The goat on the mountain peak that is seen on the title page as well as in the tongue twister titled How to Tell a Klotz from a Glotz is an illustration that Seuss has perfected over many years. The Seussian goat has appeared in at least 17 illustrations by Seuss. Starting in his college years while working on the Jack-O-Lantern (Dartmouths literary-arts magazine,) and continuing on into his work for Judge and Life magazines. There are also a few mountain goats in I Can Draw It Myself.

The new title page is a bit strange to me. Rather than having the parrot, that opens and closes the book, on the cover, they put a little girl with a walrus which is from the second to last tongue twister titled But Never Give Your Daddy a Walrus. They cut out the daddy and changed the color of the walrus as well as of the little girl’s dress/ribbon. Also the walrus bleeding off the page and cover the black and white stripe binding is very odd to me.
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FAVORITE IMAGE:

Seuss does not often draw skeletons, but his odd curves and wobbly lines definitely make for very fun bones. I really enjoy this illustration and the fact that, even without eyes, this dinosaur has a very Seussian face.

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

My favorite tongue twister is the very last one, probably because it is the easiest/shortest one, but also it seems like an appropriate ending to a book of tongue twisters.

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Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

The CAT’S QUIZZER

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Published 1976 by Random House

SUMMARY: 
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This educational style book is not set up in a narrative manner. Like The Cat in The Hat Songbook or I Can Draw It Myself, The Cat’s Quizzer has a guiding character, but they are not telling a story. The book starts with the Cat in the Hat introducing the reader to Ziggy Zozzfozzle and his sister Zizzy. They got all the questions wrong. He then challenges the reader by asking, “Are you smarter than a Zozzfozzel?”

The meat of the story is made up of several short questions, riddles, or statements. These little sentences are somewhat organized into catagories like “True or False”, “Food Quiz” or “A Night Quizzer”. 

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The finale of the quiz is a large Where’s Waldo-like page full of random things like a bear juggling a pineapple, heart, vase and clock. There is also a hippo in a hammock with a vase of flowers on it’s belly. It is basically pure Seuss-caos. The Cat in the Hat tells the reader there are 100 things that begin with H in the picture and that the Zozzfozzle’s could only find 6! Then The Cat in the Hat asks one final question…

“So, how about it…

Are you smarter than a Zozzfozzle?”

All of the answers to the questions asked throughout the book are listed very simply on the last few pages without images, but with lots of color. The last page is the list of 100 things that start with H including…

“1 Cat with a Headache!”

HISTORY:

Like most Beginner Books there is no dedication.

By this point in Seuss’s career The Cat in the Hat was a very recognizable character and one that kids were instantly drawn to and could trust to take them on a fun journey. Parents also recognized Dr. Seuss as an author that would entertain their children and make them excited about reading.

The Cat’s Quizzer is actually mocking the genre of “educational” children’s books, but still manages to be educational. Some of the questions are very silly and have equally silly answers, but some of them will stump even parents.

By introducing the reader to the Zozzfozzle’s and putting them at zero questions correct, Seuss is creating competition to strike the reader’s interest. He also sets the bottom of the grading curve so that even if the reader only gets one question right they are still smarter than the Zozzfozzles!

The drawings are not Seuss’s best. He did a series of Beginner Books because he suffered from Glaucoma and his eye sight was so bad that the “big books” were too much of a challenge to illustrate. He explained his jumpy line work by saying, “Lines seem to move as I draw them.”

FAVORITE QUOTE:

I had a very difficult time finding good images for this book. I need to go through and scan some myself, but this quote was my favorite. It is such an innocent question and seems to make perfect sense. It feels like a question a child would ask and an adult with laugh at, but that would honestly make sense in a child’s mind.

“There are
FLASH-LIGHTS
for when it’s dark.

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“Are there
FLASH-DARKS
for when its light?”

FAVORITE IMAGE:

This one actually took me a second and I’m sure it stumped most kids and even some parents. It feels like a bit of Cat in the Hat trickier and has a pretty classic Seuss look to it with the elephant and mustached man.

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Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

Oh, the THINKS you can Think!

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Published 1975 by Random House

SUMMARY:

Dr. Seuss starts out very simple in this book. First, he suggest that the reader think about colors or animals that she knows, like birds, or horses, but as quickly as page three he asks the reader to think of something completely made up; a GUFF! A Guff is a sort of puffy fluff. He does not use the words “puff” or “fluff” to describe the guff, but the image of the guff fits its name in the usual Seuss style of rhyming names with descriptors.

Next he thinks up a dessert! Of all the made up things in this image the focus is on the dessert. He gives no real description of it, other than that it is beautiful and has a cherry on top!


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After thinking of colors and known animals, then made up animals and made up dessert he moves on to made up activities, like Kitty O’Sullivan Krauss’s balloon swimming pool!

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Then, of course, Seuss’ next step is to take the reader to made up locations like Na-Nupp where the birds are asleep and the three moons are up. However, the birds are awake in Da-Dake where it is day time.

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After Seuss presents the reader with various things to think up, he then moves on to questions the reader should ask herself. Such as, how much water can fifty elephants drink or what would you do if you met a JIBBO? There is no explanation for what a JIBBO is, we just get a sketchy image leaving us to wonder and think up a story for the JIBBO. 
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In typical Seuss fashion things get busier and more colorful at the end. He fills the page with lots of crazy creatures and activity when he asks the reader why so many things go to the right. This causes the reader’s eyes to scan the page taking in every detail until she is finally wiling to turn the page.

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The final page is a busier and more colorful version of the first page, with bird-like creatures walking along a curved path, breaking the laws of gravity just as the text breaks the rules of reading left to right.

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HISTORY:

Like most Beginner Books there is no dedication.

Seuss described this book as a

“cabbages-and-kings job, in which I decided I would like to shock the child: lead him a certain way, get him into a plot, and then take it away from him on the next page and move him to another land or another completely different set of ideas.”

By breaking away and moving to the  next subject/idea Seuss leaves the reader wanting to know more about that glimpse of a different world. Seuss doesn’t flesh it out for them so if they want to know more they have to make it up, they have to use their imagination and THINK of the rest of the story or world that they only got a snippet of.

This book was a precursor to Seuss’ final book Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Not only are the titles very similar, but it is written in the same style where each page is a new location or new idea. Oh, The Places You’ll Go is a “big book” and has a more expansive vocabulary and larger word count, but you can see Seuss beginning to form the ideas for it here in this book.

The more sketchy image below is from the Cat Behind the Hat art collection. It is fun to see the formation of Seuss’ work through his sketches and renderings.

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The later paperback cover of the simplified version of Oh, The Thinks You Can Think made the entire title capitol letters and moved it to the top of the cover. It also changed to a bright blue background and instead of the birds that are found on the first and final pages the publishers chose to put the snuvs in gloves as the cover image.

images    Thinks3

FAVORITE IMAGE:

I absolutely love the Seussian architecture of this image as well as the strong contrast of the black background with white text and light given off by the candle. Beautiful image.

Think of night

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“THINK! You can think
any THINK
that you wish…”

There is so much freedom in thinking, you can think of anything that you want! Anything you wish! There is no limitation.

Thanks for reading,

Jack St. Rebor

There’s a WOCKET in my POCKET!

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Published 1974 by Random House

SUMMARY:

There’s a Wocket in my Pocket is narrated by a young boy that goes through his house and points out all of the strange creatures in it. It is very simple and consist entirely of made up creatures rhyming with the location that they are found. All of the creatures and locations are as follows:

Findow – Windowdr_seus_book_theres_a_wocket_in_my_pocket_vintage_book_club_reissue_27d0f198

Nook Gase – Book Case

Wasket – Basket

Nureau – Bureau

Woset- Closet

Jertain – Curtain (also throws in Certain)

Zlock – Clock

Zelf – Shelf

Nink – Sink

Zamp – Lamp

Yot – Potwasket

Yottle – Bottle

Zable – Table

Ghair – Chair

Bofa – Sofa

Nupboards – Cupboards

Nooth Grush – Tooth Brush51660_3-dr-seuss-theres-a-wocket-in-my-pocket

Vug – Rug

Quimney – Chimney

Zall – Hall

Yeps Steps

Yeller, Nellar, Gellar, Dellar, Bellar, Wellar, Zellar – Cellar

Geeling – Ceiling

Zower – Shower

Zillow – Pillow

At no point within the story does he ever say “there is a wocket in my pocket” that is strictly on the cover and title page. He does, however, have different feelings about the creatures.

“Some are friendlywocketpocketDSCN2421
Some are NOT.

I like the
ZABLE
on the TABLE.

But that BOFA
on the SOFA…

Well,
I wish
he wasn’t there.”

He is also scared of the Vug under the rug and the Zall scooting down the hall makes him nervous, but at the end of the book it is clear that overall he is very happy with the strange creatures in his house.

“I don’t care
if you believe it.
That’s the kind of house
I live in.
And I hope
we never leave it.”

HISTORY:

wocket-pocket-creatures

Like most Bright and Early books there is no dedication.

Seuss’s secretary was often unable to distinguish his handwriting so when he put “Uug under the rug” she typed it out as “Vug under the rug.” He liked the change so much that he kept it for publication.

The pattern of the book remains the same throughout. Each new page brings 1) a new made-up creature and 2)  a regular household item. This repetition of pattern, as well as the fact that each creature rhymes with the household item, gives the child a strong sense of how to pronounce the letters they are seeing in front of them. By the time a child is reading this book they will already be familiar with the furniture and items being listed. They know the names of them and what they look like, but this book is teaching them what their names look like. They are learning how to sound out and spell.

IMG_8296It also, as usual, supports children’s creativity. Once again, the story is about a young boy’s imagination going wild. By the end of the book, just like in Seuss’ first book To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street or in McElligot’s Pool, If I Ran the Circus and If I Ran the Zoo, the boy doesn’t particularly care if you believe him or think he’s crazy, because he is happy with the story he has created with his imagination.

The later cover of the shortened version of the story must have been aimed at a Christmas release, because it changed the background color to green and threw on the candy cane/ Cat in the Hat stripes on the spine. Other than that it just flipped the image and put the entire title in full caps.

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FAVORITE IMAGE:

I absolutely love the craziness of this image. I enjoyed counting out and naming each creature and really looking close at each of their activities. I really like the guy playing tic-tac-toe with his toe.

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FAVORIET QUOTE:

I enjoy how matter of fact this simple sentence is and that he has a little smirk on his face as if he is not only aware of it, but a little bit proud of it.

“That’s the
kind of house
I live in.”

wocketpocketDSCN2420

Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

The Shape of Me and Other Stuff


The-Shape-of-Me-and-Other-Stuff-Dr-Seuss-9780679886310-srvt0b

Published 1973 by Random House Inc.

SUMMARY:

theshapeofme

The story starts with a young boy talking to a young girl about how no two shapes are the same. He lists a bunch of different shapes, starting out fairly simple; balloon, bed, bike, fish.

Shape_Of_Me_And_Other_Stuff_1_large

He eventually moves on to more complicated things like machines, elephants, ships, dripping water, etc.

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Then the girl takes over and starts to point out the shapes of different things. She is instantly more creative thinking of the shape of gum as a stick, all chewed up, and as a bubble. She even thinks of the shape of smoke. For a little bit she goes back to more every day things like roosters, horses, tires, clothes, etc. Then she gets much more imaginative by thinking of the shapes of things that don’t even exist. She gets even more creative and actually names one of a BLOGG!

shape-300x200

She ends the story by saying:

“Of all
the shapes
we MIGHT have been…

I say, ‘HOORAY
for the shapes we’re in.”

HISTORY:

Like most Bright & Early Books there is no dedication.

Seuss was influenced by some black and white illustrations he saw in a plane magazine. They were of primitive stone-cutting silhouettes by Inuits of northern Quebec. He said they were, “about the strongest illustrations I’ve ever seen.” The entire book is done in silhouettes, but it does not lack color. The book was almost published under Seuss’ other pen name Theo LeSeig which is used for books he writes, but  does not illustrate.

The first half of the book is narrated by a young boy and is mostly everyday shapes. The second half is narrated by a young girl. The girl goes into more creative shapes that explore imagination. In the story “The Glunk That Got Thunk” the young girl is repremanded for being too imaginative and getting herself into trouble. Seuss seems to have taken that back in this story by showing that girls can think more creatively and not get into trouble for it.

The original cover has only the boy with other silhouettes. For once I am actually in agreement with the changes made for the new cover. Considering the girl narrates more than the boy does I think it’s important that they are both on the cover. I also like that the silhouettes are in different colors showing that the inside is not just in black silhouettes which would be a bit boring for a children’s book.

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

“The shape of you
the shape of me
the shape of everything I see…

a bug…
a balloon
a bed
a bike.

No shapes are ever quite alike.”

FAVORITE IMAGE:

In the actual book the page is a brighter yellow and the silhouettes are in a darker teal. Also the girl is cut off so you don’t see her back leg and the right arm was added in.

I just really enjoy the simplicity of the image. Roasting marshmallows just seems so comforting

shapeofme1

Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor