Monday, 3 August 2015

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

People recommend books to me a lot. It's hard to know when or how to fit them all in! And then there's the worry I won't like a book that is very dear to a dear friend's heart. For a long time, I just avoided reading books that had been recommended to me, unless someone pushed a physical copy into my hot little hands. (This is still the fastest way to get a book to the top of my list.) So I started a new list from which to pick, of books friends recommended. If you want to get in on this, you can recommend a book on this post.

This book was recommended to me by Chris.

It has driven the recommender a little crazy, I think, that it has taken me so long to get to this one. It's just a picture book! I could read it in about 10 minutes! He's not wrong, but I'm stubborn. I waited until it came up on my list, and then I read it. Which is now. Over a year after he recommended it.

Of course, this all leads to the question, how do you review a picture book? They're short, they're mostly pictures, and I'm pretty much the opposite of a visual thinker. (Doesn't mean I can't see the pictures when I'm reading, but it does mean I'm unlikely to retain more than a very fuzzy memory.) (Seriously, I've filled out questionnaires for the aphantasia study going on right now, and everything.)

Of course, even without remembering exactly what the pictures looked like, I have a sense of Dr. Seuss and how he draws in general. I mean, just look at that little guy up there! It's all shaggy and fuzzy and pretty damn adorable, and probably bends in interesting ways. Wow, do I not have a lot more to say, except that how can you not love Dr. Seuss illustrations.

This is not one of his books that formed a big part of my childhood, although I do remember reading it before, probably past childhood. It is, of course, the most overtly environmental of Dr. Seuss' books, with the ongoing rapaciousness of capitalism making goods no one wants moving into an area, stripping it of everything, displacing the animals, and cutting down all the trees, and then moving on, leaving it barren and sterile.

It's not a subtle message, although it is probably a necessary one. Let's bootleg a little anti-uncontrolled capitalism into every child's life, shall we? (I'm serious. We should.) It's accessible, and I'm pretty sure kids reading this book would be outraged at that damned Onceler.

The biggest thing, though, is the ending, which is catchy and memorable, and would be great if it stuck in everyone's mind. I've seen it since, just as a quote. It's the part that goes:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, 
Nothing is going to get better. It's not.

Bringing it back to the reader, even as a child, that this is something preventable, and encouraging them to see themselves as part of the solution as well. It's a good message.  So yeah, I like this picture book. If I had kids, I'd get it for them. (Of course, were I a parent, I'd eventually probably get very boring and talk about how that individual action has to be gathered into collective and governmental action, and my kids would probably start rolling their eyes pretty damn hard.)

I'm very glad I never saw the movie that was made of this. I don't really intend to ever see it.

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