5th July '17
Sitting on my shelf is well thumbed book. I have had it since a child and even to this day pick it up once in a while and read its contents. What is this tome? A slice of classic children’s literature that taught me all about the absurd and that words could be played with. This was not ‘‘Wind in the Willows’’ or ‘Swiss Family Robinson’’, my classic is a Dr Seuss Omnibus that contained four of his books.
‘‘Dr. Seuss: A Classic Treasury’’ is another such collection, but whist my grouping had some curveballs, this one contains some well-known classics; ‘‘The Cat in the Hat’’,
‘‘The Cat in the Hat Comes Back’’, ‘‘Green Eggs and Ham’’, ‘‘Fox in Socks’’ and ‘‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’’. A couple of these books are so well known they have been turned into feature films, whilst one of them has a character called Sam-I-Am and that is enough to get me excited.
For any fan of Dr Seuss they will be aware of ‘‘The Cat in the Hat’’ and ‘‘The Grinch’’; both of their most famous outings are featured in this book. The two Cat books highlight Seuss’ sense of mischief as the feline gets up to all types of naughtiness when pretending to be helpful. As for The Grinch, his Christmas tale is well loved in America and worth reading here too as it has a strong ‘‘A Christmas Carol’’ style moral centre.
Whilst three of the stories use Seuss nonsense rhymes to tell a story, the other two are my favourites as they concentrate almost solely on his wordplay. Both ‘‘Fox’’ and ‘‘Green Eggs’’ are almost riddles as they build up the rhyme so that you are soon tripping over your words. A great game to play when it is time for reading to your child is to give the book to your partner to read and watch them squirm. Whilst some authors write tricky rhymes, Seuss takes them to the next level and makes them almost impossible. To the right type of impish child this is a delight as they really see what fun can be had with silly words.
Why should you pick up ‘‘Dr. Seuss: A Classic Treasury’’? The books are brilliant teaching tools for emerging readers who want a challenge. I know I gained a lot from working my way through some of the tricky stories. What makes them work is Seuss’ sense of the absurd. The classic images are here that fans love – who does not want to read about a fox wearing socks whilst standing on clocks, and then seeing it all on paper? Perhaps you will buy this book for a son or daughter and they will treasure it as much as I do the copy given to me decades ago?