Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Lorax

children's books reciew book list the Lorax dr.seuss
The Lorax,
by Dr.Seuss.

The author, Theodor Seuss Geisel, needs no introduction. A master of his craft, his unique style has entertained and educated many of us since childhood. Some books are silly and fun, some are just ridiculous rhymes, but every once in a while, when he does get serious, Dr.Seuss blows us away with his inimitable work, leaving a lasting and indelible impression on our souls with his powerful message.

The Lorax did that to me.

Published in 1971, when people's awareness of our planet's potential plight was just awakening, this book rings ominously and lamentably true in today's world of apathy and lack of accountability regarding the ecology of our Earth, our home.

What was the Lorax, why was it there?
Why was it lifted and taken somewhere
...
wonders a little boy at the start of the book, when he is directed to the far end of town where the grickle-grass grows to ask the old Once-ler, as he knows.

A careless and simple Once-ler, many years ago, comes upon the gorgeous land with Truffula Trees, Humming-Fish, Swomee-Swans and Brown bar-ba-loots, all co-exiting and thriving gleefully.

Captivated by the softness of the Truffula Tree tufts, he chops down just one tree at first, to make a beautiful Thneed (It's a shirt. It's a sock. It's a glove. It's a hat. A Thneed is a fine something that everyone needs).

That's when the Once-ler is first confronted by The Lorax.

I am the Lorax, I speak for the Trees, I speak for the trees as the trees have no tongues, he says.

When the Lorax admonishes the Once-ler for chopping the tree to make the fool thneed that nobody needs, right then, a chap comes along and buys the said thneed.

Encouraged by this single sale, the Once-ler soon establishes a factory, inventing the super-axe-hacker to chop down four truffula trees in one smacker, and calling his brothers and uncles and aunts to come help mass produce the thneed.

Soon, the water is polluted by his factory, the air thick with toxins. The Swomee Swans and the Humming Fish are forced to leave to find a better habitat that will let them survive. The brown bar-ba-loots who ate the truffula fruits have nothing to eat and nowhere to rest...

The Lorax confronts the Once-ler, pleading on behalf of the brown Bar-ba-loots who have crummies in their tummies as they don't get to eat much. But, the Once-ler shoos the Lorax away saying business is business and business must grow, regardless of crummies in tummies you know...

Well, rather than tell it myself, as the master so perfectly blends the magic of rhyming verses and brilliant illustrations to prod the senses, I'll leave the details of the story and skip to the end.

The now remorseful Once-ler unfolds the tale of the destruction he wreaked. Just when the reader's heart is about to break, the book ends with the beacon of hope when the Once-ler drops a Truffula seed and says,

"Unless".



"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot..."

This would be a perfect book for early introduction to environmental education and am sure my 7-year old niece would certainly appreciate the theme and the presentation, even if she cannot relate to the ever-popular corporate approach of profits at the cost of our ecosystem.

Ana (my 2¼ year old) loves this book, although I am sure she doesn't quite get the pithy subject of caring for your environment and doing the right thing that the book deals with.

To me, the brilliance of the book lies in the ending where Dr.Seuss leaves us with the message that our chances of survival now lie in the hands of a caring child - and that child could be you, my dear Ana!

And, that child could be each and every one of the little (and not-so-little) ones we read this book to...

6 comments:

sathish said...

sounds very interesting..we have never picked up a dr.seuss - surprisingly..

but, this one sounds really nice and thankfully it is available in our library too..

sriram said...

I wonder if it makes sense to burden the little minds with such depth on this topic? Sure, one needs to start early. I would probably stop at positive reinforcement and direct consequences.

"business is business and business must grow, regardless of crummies in tummies", is a bit too much if you ask me.

Sorry doc, your prescription is at adult strength!

sathish said...

meera, is this not how adults react to children's queries? -'this is how things are done.'.. ( I am a culprit a few times too)

'business is business... ' sounds to be exactly like that and that is probably something that children might be relate to -- is my guess..

The doc (author) might have ordered something strong ; but, we as nurses administering the story to our kids have the right to interpret in a way it is understandable to them(thankfully, it is not medicine that needs to be applied as per the prescription!!) -- and probably as they grow older they might be able to pick up the book themselves and understand it better..

meera sriram said...

Hi Sathish,

FYI - I did not leave the comment:) However, the dissection seems interesting!

sathish said...

oops meera, when I clicked on sriram link, it pointed to a profile which listed ur blog.. so, thot it was you..

Sriram, Apologies to you for mistaking you as meera.

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