I was always aware of Dr. Seuss. The books were usually scattered around my infant school. The pictures disturbed me on some level, but I liked the rhymes and humour in that superficial hit-and-run way kids that age like anything. Alas I was(am!) a slow learner and struggled(struggle!) considerably with reading so I didn’t go out of my way to pick those books up and try to understand them.
I left Dr. Seuss far behind where he surely belonged, in childhood. Until fairly recently that is. A German poetry friend recommended one of his books to me – Oh the Places You’ll Go. I was busy though and really didn’t want to get into another recommendation tennis nightmare. So I lied and said I’d bear it in mind. She persisted to the point of trying to buy me the book. An endeavour scuppered only by Amazon’s cross-border peculiarities.
Not to be defeated(see Battle of the Bulge), she tracked it down online, narrated by John Lithgow. As she’d gone to so much trouble I finally surrendered and listened to it.
I was glad I did but was also surprised by it. Sure it’s got the usual blend of rhymes, humour and whacky drawings that you’d expect from his books. But that belies a cautionary tale tinged with life’s harsh realities. One which we assume is aimed at children, yet one which I suspect only adults are capable of truly grasping. And not all of them either. Only adults who’ve had an adult dose in life.
But don’t take my word for it, see what you think if you’ve got six minutes to spare:
Not sure if I like John Lithgow narrating that but it’s the best version I could find online. I’d like to have heard Robin Williams take a crack at it. God rest his golden soul.
Now I don’t know if that ought to be encouraging or terrifying for aspiring authors. Somehow I find it more encouraging though.
I tried to write a poem in the style of Dr Seuss one time. I’ll post it separately though so as not to sully Theodor’s good name.