Columns / Discourse / November 10, 2010

Did You Know: Dr. Seuss extravaganza

Dr. Seuss: an iconic children’s writer and master of rhymes. I know my friends and I grew up on “Green Eggs and Ham”, “Fox in Socks,” “The Cat in the Hat” and a whole lot of other books from him. Even in kindergarten I got to eat green eggs and ham! So as popular and influential as these books were, here are some interesting facts about eight of Seuss’ best selling books.

1. “Green Eggs and Ham” was written during a $50 bet with Seuss’ publisher to write a book using only 50 words. Forty-nine of those words are one-syllable. The one word not a syllable is “anywhere.” According to the standard Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level formula, “Green Eggs and Ham,” thanks to its short sentences and even shorter words, is put at a -1.3rd grade reading level. Yes, that’s right.

2. “The Cat in the Hat” is a great book that many literary critics and students like ourselves try to tear to pieces to see the imbedded meaning. In countless pieces of literary criticisms and academic papers, the Cat has been considered a Christ figure. He arrives suddenly, turns the world upside-down, performs some miraculous tricks (like standing on a ball with a bunch of things), can’t win over everyone (ironically, the fish) and leaves the impressionable flock permanently changed. Go figure.

3. In an interview with Laura Bush, “Hop On Pop” was one of the Bush family’s favorite books, and George used to read this to their daughters. [Insert joke about the daughters having to read more complicated books to him, like “Goodnight, Moon.”] [Then insert a joke about Barack Obama making sure everyone gets an equal chance to hop on pop, regardless of how much each individual has worked to earn his share of pop hopping capital.] And I’m done.

4. “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” is, according to Publisher’s Weekly, one of Seuss’ best sellers. Reason being? It’s become a popular go-to graduation gift. What a comfort this book will be when we can’t find a job in the real world!

5. Dr. Seuss’s “ABC” is a good way to introduce kids to the alphabet. The title is an even better way to introduce them to the concept of a contraction with three consecutive appearances of the letter S. Prepare them for the joys of punctuation at age five! They’ll appreciate it one day.

6. “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back” was supposed to be made into a movie, but Dr. Seuss’ widow refused. I suppose it was after seeing what Mike Myers and company did with the first “Cat in the Hat” movie.

7. “Fox in Socks” was considered the most complicated tongue twister ever for a brief period. I remember as a kid trying to say “Luke luck likes lakes” out loud five times fast. Dr. Seuss even has a warning on the bottom, saying: “The first time you read it, don’t go too fast!” But according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most difficult tongue twister in English is “The sixth sick sheikh’s sixth sheep’s sick.” Try saying that five times fast.

8. In the film adaptation of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the singer who performed the famous “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” theme song is a guy named Thrul Ravenscroft. (I guess we know which Harry Potter house he’d end up in.) He was also the voice of Tony the Tiger. You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch…grrrreat!

Emily Park

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