The lost (and found) Dr. Seuss

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. - By Michael Taube

Abook that cap­tures a child’s love, de­vo­tion and imag­i­na­tion is a prized pos­ses­sion, in­deed. If this book can tran­scend gen­er­a­tions and chang­ing at­ti­tudes, it should be re­garded as leg­endary.

Many great works, in­clud­ing Mau­rice Sen­dak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” Mar­garet Wise Brown’s “Good­night Moon,” Robert McCloskey’s “Make Way for Duck­lings” and Richard Scarry’s “Best Word Book Ever” fit this des­ig­na­tion. When it comes to declar­ing the world’s most beloved chil­dren’s books, few share the same stage with Dr. Seuss.

This tal­ented writer and il­lus­tra­tor, whose real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel, cre­ated more than 60 mem­o­rable books. The list in­cludes: “And to Think That I Saw It on Mul­berry Street” (1937), “If I Ran The Zoo” (1950), “Hor­ton Hears a Who” (1954), “How the Grinch Stole Christ­mas” (1957), “The Cat in the Hat” (1957), “Green Eggs and Ham” (1960), “Fox in Socks” (1965) and “The Lo­rax” (1971).

By the time his fi­nal book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” was pub­lished in 1990, Dr. Seuss sto­ries could be found in spe­cial cor­ners of our chil­dren’s book­shelves. Many con­tain well-thumbed pages, and a few cov­ers were scratched or torn. Th­ese mild blem­ishes only add to the charm and mys­tique of the wacky, silly and zany Seussian tales.

Here’s the most un­usual (and en­joy­able) thing about Dr. Seuss books. Although the au­thor passed away in 1991, we’re still dis­cov­er­ing new sto­ries. In 2011, seven Dr. Seuss tales were pub­lished in one vol­ume, “The Bip­polo Seed and Other Lost Sto­ries.” Th­ese sto­ries were orig­i­nally pub­lished be­tween 1948 and 1959 in Red­book, a women’s mag­a­zine that is more than a cen­tury old. They were never col­lected in book form, and had been for­got­ten by Fa­ther Time. For­tu­nately, they were un­earthed by well-known Seuss scholar, Charles D. Co­hen, and de­clared to be “the lit­er­ary equiv­a­lent of buried trea­sure” by its pub­lisher, Ran­dom House.

Well, it’s time for Dr. Seuss fans to re­joice again. Four more Red­book sto­ries, pub­lished be­tween 1950 and 1957, have been re­dis­cov­ered. They have been pub­lished in a new book, “Hor­ton and the Kwug­ger­bug and More Lost Sto­ries.” If you loved Dr. Seuss as a child (and as an adult), th­ese lit­tle-known sto­ries will bring back many fond mem­o­ries.

The first tale, “Hor­ton and the Kwug­ger­bug,” is Hor­ton the ele­phant’s third ap­pear­ance. Yet, as Mr. Co­hen points out, “it was ac­tu­ally the sec­ond story that [Dr. Seuss] wrote about Hor­ton.” The ele­phant and Kwug­ger­bug meet and travel to the lat­ter’s Bee­zlenut tree, “Then half of the nuts are for you. Half for me.” Hor­ton fends off croc­o­diles (“Just look at their ter­ri­ble teeth. How they flash. They’ll chew me right up into ele­phant hash”), scales a moun­tain and reaches the tree.

“A deal is a deal,” as the story goes. Mr. Co­hen points out “Hor­ton’s faith­ful­ness, good na­ture and pa­tience are tested” be­cause it turns out he has been “suck­ered into help­ing a ma­nip­u­la­tive Kwug­ger­bug.” Not to worry, dear read­ers. The ele­phant comes out well in the end.

Another tale is “The Hoobub and the Grinch.” It’s only two pages, but a joy to be­hold. This ren­di­tion of the Grinch “may not look ex­actly like his fa­mous Christ­mas-steal­ing name­sake,” ac­cord­ing to Mr. Co­hen, but they are “re­lated by their de­vi­ous in­ten­tions and pre­oc­cu­pa­tions with con­sumerism.”

The Hoobub is out­side en­joy­ing the sun. The Grinch walks by, and at­tempts to sell him “a piece of green string,” which is “worth a lot more than that old­fash­ioned sun.” Here’s part of his sales pitch:

“But it is, grinned the Grinch. Let me give you the rea­sons.

The sun’s only good in a cou­ple short sea­sons.

For you’ll have to ad­mit that in win­ter and fall

The sun is quite weak. It is not strong at all.

But this won­der­ful piece of green string I have here

Is strong, my good friend, ev­ery month of the year.”

At a price tag of 98 cents, the naive Hoobub be­comes a will­ing cus­tomer.

The other two sto­ries deal with Mul­berry Street char­ac­ters: “Marco Comes Late,” about the pint-sized hero, and “How Of­fi­cer Pat Saved the Whole Town,” about the town’s po­lice­man. If you trea­sured the orig­i­nal story, you’ll en­joy learn­ing more about Marco and Of­fi­cer Pat’s ex­ploits.

“Hor­ton and the Kwug­ger­bug and More Lost Sto­ries” con­tain ad­ven­tures I wish that I had read as a child. Re­gard­less, I’m glad th­ese old Dr. Seuss sto­ries are “new” again. It al­lows me to read them to my son at bed­time, and still be mag­i­cally car­ried off into Seus­s­land. Michael Taube is a contributor to The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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