I don’t recall mom or dad ever reading me bedtime stories. But by the age of 6, I do remember reading, in a rather halting voice, classic children’s tales like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and How to Eat Fried Worms to my classmates. It did beat nap times and messy fingerpainting sessions, hands down.
While authors Roald Dahl and Thomas Rockwell are memorable for titles like these, Dr Seuss has a special place in my heart, because he made life comprehensible to little ones in rhyming prose. He laid them out in nonsensical limericks, which were food for thought–even if (or maybe especially because) it was (m)uttered by whimsical creatures. A collection of inspirational quotes and practical advice, without the overt morality plays or covert guilt trips.
To illustrate: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose” is so much more motivational than “Get a job!”
And: “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind” works for me when I feel the need to speak my mind. Although I don’t have to be abrasive when I do so. Just extremely … creative, some times.
I saw the film adaptations of Horton Hears a Who? (and not just because the inestimable Carol Burnett was one of the voices), The Lorax (the 2012 film, as voiced by Danny DeVito), and of course The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (as voiced by Jim Carrey). All offered heartwarming, redemptive messages wrapped up (ok, overwhelmed is probably more appropriate) in bits of whimsy and the general message that society is willing to forgive you for your transgressions, no matter how egregious–and even if it takes you a long, long time to forgive yourself.
Green Eggs and Ham was the first Dr. Seuss book I read. It is still the most vivid one in my recollection (The Cat in the Hat plays a second fiddle–and sorry, Mike Myers, your portrayal of The Cat in the 2003 film just didn’t float my boat. Maybe also because the plot deviated just a bit too much from the original literary matter. And that matters).
I can verify that green eggs do exist. Being one with odd tastes, I took a shine to century (duck) eggs many years ago (ignore the myth that they were cured in horse urine). Green ham remains personally unsubstantiated and untasted, although I know that there are more than a few Green Eggs and Ham recipes floating around the interwebz.
Dr. Seuss’s books are recommended reading for anyone under the age of 99. To see more of Dr. Seuss’s quotes, set your cursor on this Brainy Quotes link.