Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Lorax ~ by Dr. Seuss

I've already checked out The Lorax by Dr. Seuss from the library twice, without getting this review written. The due date is fast approaching, again, so I'm just gonna get this thing done! Debi at nothing of importance chose this as the book she would be willing to reread once a year for the rest of her life. I could do that, too. But first, some details:

Title, author, date of book, and genre?
The Lorax ~ by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Suess Geisel), 1971, children's picture book

Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
Seuss takes us on a trip to the far end of town to see where the Lorax once stood. If we really want to know what the Lorax was and why it was there, we need to check with the old Once-ler, who still lives there ... because he knows. One thing you should know, though, is that you must be willing to pay! When the bucket is lowered on the end of a rope, toss in fifteen cents and a nail and the shell of a great-great-great-grandfather snail. That's when the adventure begins ... I mean, the story of the Lorax as told by the Once-ler.

What did you think of the main character?
When the Once-ler found the Truffula Trees, he built a small shop, chopped down a tree with one chop, and taking the soft tuft, knitted a Thneed. All well and good, you may say, but then out of the stump of that tree popped the Lorax to speak for the trees, those Truffula Trees. The Lorax kept speaking for the trees, the Once-ler kept chopping them down and using their tuft to knit Thneeds, which no one needs.

Were there any other especially interesting characters?
The Once-ler called in his whole family, and the Thneed business boomed. Chopping down Truffula Trees was mechanized by the Once-ler:
"So I quickly invented my Super-Axe-Hacker
which whacked off four Truffula Trees at one smacker."
Did you think the characters and their problems were believable?
Oh, yes! The Lorax returned to confront the Once-ler, explaining that the Brown Bar-ba-loots who played in the shade were feeling crummies in their tummies because they no longer had Truffula Fruits to eat. It was very clear, according to the Once-ler, that
business is business!
And business must grow
regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.
From whose point of view is the story told?
It's told from the Once-ler's point of view, but he frequently quotes the Lorax. I guess he heard the words, but missed the message from the Lorax:
"Once-ler!" he cried with a cruffulous croak.
"Once-ler! You're making such smogulous smoke!
My poor Swomee-Swans ... why, they can't sing a note!
No one can sing who has smog in his throat."
The Lorax continued to complain, this time about the water:
"You're glumping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed!
No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed.
So I'm sending them off. Oh, their future is dreary.
They'll walk on their fins and get woefully weary
in search of some water that isn't so smeary."
But the Once-ler was determined to continue biggering and BIGGERING and BIGGERING, until the inevitable day when ... "we heard the tree fall. The very last Truffula Tree of them all!"

What about the ending?
You do remember the Once-ler is telling this story to the reader? When you tossed that fifteen cents and a nail and the shell into the Once-ler's bucket, he began telling this story. The Once-ler points out one single word left by the Lorax: "UNLESS"
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not.
It's up to you! And the Once-ler tosses out of his window a Truffula Seed, the last one of all.
"Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back."
Oops! I think I just gave away the ending, but maybe that's okay ... maybe you are a tree-hugger like me.

Why was this book banned?
The Lorax was banned in parts of the United States for being an allegorical political commentary. Specifically, it was banned in the Laytonville, California School District on grounds that this book "criminalizes the forestry industry." Nothing has changed, though, and the government is still selling out the people and the land, all in the name of big business. Don't get me started! (This book review is cross-published on my Banned Books blog.)

How would you rate this book?
Rated 10/10, couldn't put it down ... couldn't resist picking it up again and again.


Ladytink_534 said...

Love that Dr. Seuss!

Anonymous said...

This is one my daughter's favorite books! Mine, too.

After holding it hostage from the library for months, I finally went out and bought her a copy.

It's a powerful story in that it stirred something up in my three-year old. She worked and worked to wrap her head around it and really felt something from it. She always takes note of how the colors go from being very bright to quite drab as the truffula trees are chopped down.

I had no idea this was a banned book! No matter. We love it. Long live The Lorax!

Chrisbookarama said...

I haven't read that Seuss. Weird that it was banned.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I used this quote from The Lorax for my Earth Day post on April 22, 2011:

"Mister!" he said with a sawdusty sneeze, "I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees."