Saturday, March 2, 2019

Book Review: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Good message, classic Seuss elements
Cons: Dark for a picture book
The Bottom Line:
Save environment
Clear message of picture book
Entertaining, dark

Environmental Morality Tale for Kids

Dr. Seuss has created a lot of picture books for kids.  Some are just plain fun, but some have definite morals.  The Lorax falls into the latter category.

The book tells the story of the Once-ler.  Back in the past, he found a forest of Truffula Trees.  Through ingenuity, he found a way to make these trees into something that everyone could use.  However, the Lorax shows up to try to warn him of the dangers that might cause.  Will the Once-ler listen?

It had been years since I read this book when I picked it up again recently, and what struck me was how dark this book is.  And I’m not just talking about the pictures at the beginning and end, which take place at night.  Over the course of the book, we watch the Once-ler destroy the environment.  As the creatures slowly leave, the book feels bleak.  Oh, I got it as a kid, but it struck me harder as an adult.  Fortunately, there is a ray of hope at the end, so it is not completely bleak.

The book is certainly one sided, but this is a book for kids.  They are too young to understand nuance.  While I am a firm believer that we need to protect the environment, I also believe we can use it to make our lives better.  There needs to be a balance to it, and this book expertly shows just what happens when you don’t pay any attention to the environment.  Hopefully, as kids grow older, they will have conversations that show them that nuance.

Of course, this book isn’t just lecture.  It is filled with Dr. Seuss’s colorful illustrations and creative creatures.  Some of the illustrations are beautiful.  The book, while told in rhyme, features some of Dr. Seuss’s creative names and creatures, so it rightfully isn’t listed as an easy reader.  Still, kids ready for a bit of a challenge could probably sound out many of the words with help from adults.

While it doesn’t shy away from a very serious subject, The Lorax remains a classic picture book.  Give it a read and think about it.  It is sure to spark some conversations with your kids.

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