The first Dr Seuss book I remember reading was Green Eggs and Ham. I can't remember how old I was, but I think I was thrilled at being able to read by myself. Yes that's right - a dedicated bookworm from waaaay back.
Though I enjoyed Green Eggs and Ham as a kid, it wasn't until I was much older that I began to truly appreciate the genius that is Dr Seuss.
The man was a master of lyricism, a sorcerer of words, a magician of meter. He had a head full of brains and shoes full of feet!
Children's books are an incredibly hard field to master. Few writers have a true knack for it.
When I've heard people say "maybe I should write a children's book just to make some money", I've wantted to bop them over the head with a large hardcover. It takes a lot more talent and skill to write a great children's book than stringing a random bunch of words and drawings together, otherwise we'd all be doing it!
Below are some of my favourite Dr Seuss quotes, categorised by book.
Oh, The Places You'll Go!
"Out there things can happen and frequently do, to people as brainy and footsy as you"
It's true, it's all true. If you have brains and feet, you can make things happen! Oh my!
"I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you"
I've taken great comfort from this line whenever life has left me in a Lurch and I've ended up in a Slump. It's good to reflect on the fact that at some point, all of us have "come to a place where the streets are not marked" and the "windows are mostly darked".
"On you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl."
This is a great quote to remind yourself that many times in life, you have to feel the fear and do it anyway. Because there is nothing so limiting as your own fear. And Hakken-Kraks. God, the Hakken-Kraks!
Green Eggs and Ham
"Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say."
Sam-I-Am is a childhood favourite of mine, and he spends the whole book saying how much he dislikes green eggs and ham, despite having never tried them. But in the end, he tries a bite, and it changes his life. The lesson? You never know what you'll like, so try everything at least once. Even green eggs and ham.
"But those trees, those trees, those Truffula trees. All my life I'd been searching for trees such as these"
Even though I'm a big girl now, I still want to find a truffula tree and feast on its brown fruit, and take in its sweet smell of fresh butterfly milk.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not"
I am the Lorax, I speak for the trees! In this case, the Lorax is a metaphor for the environment, which is being slowly destroyed to make the Once-Ler's Thneeds ($3.98 each). It's a sad and compelling story which, though first published in 1972, is still strikingly relevant. Think of the poor Brown Bar-ba-loots, and the Swomee-Swans, and the Humming-Fish and, and, and...
The Cat in the Hat
"Cat, you ruined Mom's dress!" "Honey, it was ruined when she got it"
Who doesn't love the endearing loose-limbed, mischievous cat who brought such colour and fun one dreary wet afternoon to two bored children? This book is made even more impressive by the fact that Dr Seuss wrote it using 233 of the 348 words that every six-year-old should know. The fashion advice is great too.
Yertle the Turtle
"And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous He, is king of the Mud. That is all he can see. And the turtles of course...all the turtles are free, as turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be"
I love these lines for the pure simplicity and beauty of them, written in anapestic tetrameter, which has four anapestic feet per line consisting of two unstressed syllables and then a stressed syllable. Not to be confused with iambic pentameter - what Shakespeare used.
I'm sure y'all remember lots more, so please share your favourites with me!
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