It’s the literary equivalant of buried treasure! Seuss scholar/collector Charles D. Cohen has hunted down seven rarely seen stories by Dr. Seuss. Originally published in magazines between 1950 and 1951, they include “The Bear, the Rabbit, and the Zinniga-Zanniga ” (about a rabbit who is saved from a bear with a single eyelash!); “Gustav the Goldfish” (an early, rhymed version of the Beginner Book A Fish Out of Water); “Tadd and Todd” (a tale passed down via photocopy to generations of twins); “Steak for Supper” (about fantastic creatures who follow a boy home in anticipation of a steak dinner); “The Bippolo Seed” (in which a scheming feline leads an innocent duck to make a bad decision); “The Strange Shirt Spot” (the inspiration for the bathtub-ring scene in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back); and “The Great Henry McBride” (about a boy whose far-flung career fantasies are only bested by those of the real Dr. Seuss himself).
In an introduction to the collection, Cohen explains the significance these seven stories have, not only as lost treasures, but as transitional stories in Dr. Seuss’s career. With a color palette that has been enhanced beyond the limitations of the original magazines in which they appeared, this is a collection of stories that no Seuss fan (whether scholar or second-grader) will want to miss!
I have to confess that, whilst I obviously know of ‘Dr Seuss’ and his quirky rhyming style and have bemusedly watched ‘The Grinch’ featuring Jim Carrey or, in my opinion the more enjoyable, ‘Horton hears a Who’, I don’t think I have ever actually read any of his books.
Now that I have read,’The Bippolo Seed’ I am amazed by Dr Seuss’ extraordinary mind. These ‘lost’ stories have no particular theme. The first two stories, the titular ‘Bippolo Seed’ (a cautionary tale about greed) and ‘The Rabbit, the Bear and the Zinniga-Zanniga’ (where quick thinking makes up for size) reminded me of the Aesops fables I read as a child. This may also be why I enjoyed these the most! The ‘Tadd and Todd’, ‘Gustav the Goldfish’ and ‘Steak for Supper’ stories shows Dr Seuss’ penchant for characters out of this world – maybe fans of Dr Seuss would recognise a ‘Gritch’ or a ‘Grickle’?
I have to admit though, ‘The Strange Shirt spot’ and ‘The Great Henry McBride’ didn’t quite hit the mark for me. The latter, particularly so.
Unfortunately my daughter (4yrs) was not impressed. She, nor my husband are fans of the iconic character illustration and I guess is too young to ‘get’ the frivolity of such books so will have to try again in a few years time.
Verdict: Overall, this is an interesting collection of short stories. It has also encouraged me to seek out more well known works of Dr Seuss. In my opinion children 6 yrs and older will be more likely to appreciate this very unique style of storytelling.
Reviewed by Karen