Monday, April 7, 2008

Dr. Seuss

Bartholomew and the Oobleck
by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)
Recommended Age: Age: 8+ (5+ if it is read to them

I have been discovering Dr. Seuss all my life. Some of the first books I remember reading were by him: Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? and I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! And who could escape The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, or the title I repeat to my cats every time they want to stretch out on my chest: Hop on Pop?

I didn't leave Dr. Seuss behind even when I learned to read bigger books. For example, the same high school English teacher who made me memorize Antony's speech at the funeral of Julius Caesar, also recited The Butter Battle Book in its entirety, from memory. One of my best going-away-to-college gifts was a copy of Oh, the Places You'll Go! And I also fondly remember being involved in a college readers'-theatre production of Horton Hatches the Egg.

All the same, my knowledge of Dr. Seuss's works has never been complete. Not all of his books are necessarily in print at any given time. Recently, I found one that I had never heard of: Bartholomew and the Oobleck. I found it irresistable, that is.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck is a much more advanced story than Green Eggs and Ham. Little ones will want it read to them, but once they're at the level of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, they should be able to read this story on their own.

A fine, worthwhile story it is, too. Bartholomew Cubbins is an admirable young hero, so much so that he appears in at least one other Dr. Seuss book (The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins). His Kingdom of Did is a charming world in which a sensible little kid tucks a big, silly king into bed, and is wiser and more resourceful than all the adults put together. And that's a good thing in this book, because the king has done something truly foolish. Aided by his mad magicians, the king has summoned a new kind of weather: OOBLECK. Words cannot describe how awful the stuff is. Oh, all right, words can describe it: Dr. Seuss's words, preferably. His whimsical pictures help a lot, though.

Let the record show that I found this book when I was 35 years old, and I laughed and laughed. I appreciated the charm of this story and its silly palace people, which compare well to those in James Thurber's Many Moons. There's a nice moral to this story, too. Look it up, and I think you, and the Bartholomew Cubbins in your life, will love this book.

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