Friday, July 31, 2015

Book Review: What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: The illustrations are great
Cons: The rest is not Seuss’s best work
The Bottom Line:
Choosing a new pet
In book that Seuss abandoned
Nothing that special

Should You Get Dr. Seuss’s Newly Discovered Book?

July saw the release of new books from two beloved authors.  While the focus has been on Harper Lee’s new novel, I was most curious about the new Dr. Seuss book.  (We can discuss what that says about my literary tastes later.)  Having gotten to read What Pet Should I Get?, I feel fairly certain it should have stayed unpublished.  It’s not a bad book, but it certainly won’t be remembered as one of his better books.

The story follows a brother and sister who are sent to a pet store to pick out one new pet.  The brother, our narrator, immediately wants a dog, and his sister wants a cat.  But the more they begin to look around, the more choices they see.  What will they wind up taking home?

The plot really didn’t surprise me based on the title.  I just wasn’t sure if it was going to feature real animals or animals straight from the imagination of Dr. Seuss.  The answer is…yes.  Eventually, the book does feature two imaginary creatures, but most of the book does focus on real pets.

And that’s part of the problem.  Those two imaginary animals almost feel forced into the story.  If Dr. Seuss was going to follow his flights of fancy, it would have been a much larger part of the book.  Instead, it felt like it was just there to fill pages.

The book does rhyme, but it doesn’t flow like the best of Dr. Seuss’s books.  Some of the rhymes did feel forced, and other lines feel like they are changing the rhythm mid-book, something he never did.

The illustrations are classic Dr. Seuss, however.  They are the one thing that really does shine.  For that reason, I suspect that kids will still enjoy this book even if it doesn’t hold nearly the same appeal to adults.

But let’s discuss the ending.  It leaves the final choice the children make open.  I’m sorry, but when you ask a question in the title, shouldn’t you answer it in the book?  That bothered me.

The book ends with several pages about Dr. Seuss, his pets, his career, and his work habits.  It talks about how he’d go through 1000 pages making sure everything was perfect before he was happy with it every time he wrote a book.  It also points out how similar the children are here to the ones in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and theorizes that this book eventually morphed into that one.  All this leads me to the conclusion that he knew this wasn’t his best work and he never would have wanted it to see the light of day.

Now, I’m not saying it is horrible.  I’m not condemning anyone for publishing it or buying it.  I’m just saying it’s really average.

So back to my question in the title.  Should you get What Pet Should I Get?  If you have young children who love animals, they might get a kick out of it.  But if you are only curious, I’d go to the library to read it.


  1. One advantage with children's books is that you can read them by the bookshop bookshelf. I do this from time to time & like you was curious to have a look at What Pet Should I Get? Personally, I think you're being too kind: aside from the fun artwork, the book is less than average, Seuss or otherwise. I found the rhymes uninspired & it simply lacks the FUN that the popular Seuss books have in droves. If you have young children who like animals, find another animal book.

    Thanks for checking it out & sharing your ideas on it though.

    1. Maybe I was too easy on it, but it didn't strike me as truly bad, just average.

      Thanks for reading my review and commenting.

  2. A person buying a book for a child who is contemplating getting a pet might well be deceived by the title, (although, given the author, one should know better).
    I have to say that I agree with the point that he probably never wanted this released. However, I have to throw in that although always FUN, many of the Seuss books have rhymes that are 'forced'. This is not something new; I cite "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are" , which contains many examples.

    1. It's been a number of years since I read "Did I Ever Tell You," but I still feel like the rhymes were better there than here. Some of the ones here just do not work.

  3. I grew up with these books and loved them and my 21 year old and 20 year old loved them as well so yea I'm going to buy it.


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