The Dr Seuss trade mark wit, humour, pace and rhythm are all oh so evident in each of these stories – each with its own, strong identity. Coming from the point when the author was moving from prose to poetry these stories feel fresh, vibrant and fun.
Here’s a run down of each one … but you may just want to go straight to your own copy and enjoy the experience yourself!
The Bippolo Seed – McKluck the Duck (oh yes!) finds the Bippolo seed hidden in a silver box with the message …
“Whatever you wish for, whatever it be
Will sprout and grow out of a Bippolo Tree!”
Although his wish begins modest enough – duck food for a week – a cat comes along and leads him astray. He wishes grow more and more extravagant, until …
The Strange Shirt Spot – I loved the humour of this one! You remember that childhood panic? Brand new clothes, dirty … quick get it clean before mum comes home?! We follow the boy’s panic as each time he gets the spot off one thing it just goes on to another .. the bath, towel, mum’s dress. Great light hearted entertainment.
Steak for Supper – My Book Corner loved this one due to the inclusion of so many Seuss type characters. Ikka, Gritch, Grickle Nupper and Whild Wheef (two of those). They all begin to follow our main character home after they over hear him saying he will be having steak for supper – he’s parents warned him about “thinking out loud”. Love that it also happened on Mulberry Street!!
Tadd and Todd – read about Tadd as he goes to Dr Seuss type extremes to ensure people can tell him and his twin brother apart, “He strapped on a dog in a brown burlap sack.” This is all resolved in a suitable Seuss style. Has to be said that Tadd and Todd contains one of my favourite lines of all,
“Which one is what one, and what one is who.”
The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga – the quick witted rabbit escapes the clutches of the bear by convincing him that he is missing an eye lash from one eye. The very big claws, and very big jaw coupled with the wit of the smaller creature will delight the generation which has grown up loving The Gruffalo. The illustration of the bear perched on top of the Zinniga-Zanniga tree holding a pink flower to his eye was pure brilliance, and made my kids chuckle!
Gustav, the goldfish – a goldfish is accompanied by a stern warning “If you feed him a lot, Then something might happen!” No prizes for guessing what happens next, but you will laugh along as his new owner struggles to cope with a quickly expanding goldfish. The illustrations to accompany this one are great, especially of the rather self important gold fish seller who returns with an “I told you so!” demeanour etched all over him!
The Great Henry McBride – Henry Mcbride sits under a tree and ponders what job he should choose when he grows up. Why settle for one when there are so many to choose from? The illustrations convey an older Henry McBride successfully juggling everything from a doctor, seal-trainer, cow boy to broadcaster. This is a shorter story, but visually very entertaining for the younger audience.
Where has The Bippolo Seed & Other Lost Stories come from? They were published in magazines between 1950 and 1951. A popular format used by many great literary figures from Hemingway to Dickens.
Why now? The stories were discovered by, expert in all things Dr Seuss, Charles D Cohen, who can be seen in the video below. How amazing that they’ve now not only been tracked down, but also re produced in a way which is a real sign of the times.