Sunday, March 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

For past few days, my daughter went absolutely ga-ga about a Dr. Seuss and insisted on bringing only Dr. Seuss books from the library. At first I didn’t pay much attention as all I knew about Dr. Seuss that he wrote one of my kiddo’s favorite rhyme that started like

“There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don't know why she swallowed a fly - perhaps she'll die!
There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her;
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly…”

I thought of Dr. Seuss as someone writing meaningless rhymes for children, but then I got a notice from the class teacher asking every children to participate in a reading challenge for Dr. Seuss’ birthday. It sounded worth being curious, and I pulled a few books from my little one’s shelf and started reading.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, born on March 2, 1904, was a writer and cartoonist, most widely known for his children's books written under his pen name, Dr. Seuss. He published over 60 children's books, which were often described by ingenious characters, rhyme and frequent use of trisyllabic meter. His most notable books include the bestselling Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

I managed to read some of his books, namely The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, It’s Your Birthday and few more. Unexpectedly enough, I found them pretty interesting and funny at the same time. Most of them had some inner meaning to educate some basics of life.

In his ‘The Lorax’, the lorax is a creature who speaks for the Truffula trees, the humming fishes, the bar-ba-loots and the swomee-swans as each of them had their life in danger because of Onceler’s greed. Onceler had chopped off all Truffula trees, leaving nothing for the bar-ba-loots to eat; he filled the air with the smoke of his factory that produced thneed, made out of the trees. The swomee-swans were as sick as not being able to quack. The factory waste was drained to the pond, making the humming fishes sick and The Lorax sent them away one by one, even when the birds had to fly even for months to find a suitable place and the fishes had to walk on their tales.

At the end, when the lastest Truffula tree was chopped off, only Onceler and the Lorax were left, while Lorax flew off keeping behind a pile of rocks and a word ‘UNLESS’. The Onceler finished telling this story to a small boy who had come to find him. The boy asked, "Unless? What does that mean?" The Onceler tossed a small seed to the boy and explained that unless someone cares enough to grow this seed, the last Truffula seed, and let it mature, then maybe the Lorax will come back.

My daughter reacted almost instantly to the story and I realized how cleverly, yet how simply the author passed the message to the children. On his 104th Birthday I wish more authors with such talent be in this era, to educate children about life’s bigger messages in smaller ways.

1 comment:

  1. hi there...i am so glad you also loved his books....they are truly great books...with much deeper meaning...rolled up in fun and interesting rhythms and characters....i read his books for my girl and his are the only books which even if i read for 50 times( my girl often wants to reread ) i find something exciting. Horton hatches the egg is my all time fav. it really teaches a lot about integrity and keeping your promises.