Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is the story of a mischievous boy named Max, sent to bed without supper. But in his room, a forest grows and the walls give way to jungle and ocean. Max sails to a land of wild things (like himself). The monsters show Max how terrible they can be, but he tames them, and they name him their king. Max commands “let the wild rumpus start!” and he and the other wild things swing and dance and march, until Max remembers how hungry he is. He waves goodbye to his monster friends and sails back to his room, where dinner is there waiting (and still hot too)!
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories is a collection of three great stories by Dr. Seuss, each with a lesson to teach us (as Seuss so often has). “Yertle the Turtle” is supposedly an allegory for Hitler-era fascism (and Horton Hears a Who is supposedly an allegory for Japanese internment camps. Who knew Seuss was so political). Yertle is the king of all he sees, which is a bunch of turtles in a pond. But he realizes if he commands all the turtles to stand in a stack with him on top, he could rule so much more! His plan seems to go swimmingly until Mack, the poor base turtle, does something very impolite… In “Gertrude McFuzz” (one of my childhood favorites) we meet a bird with a bit to learn about envy and vanity, and then there’s “The Big Brag” in which a rabbit, a bear, and a worm argue over who has the best senses. All classics!
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax is a great jumping off point for educating your child about current issues concerning the environment. Narrated by a regretful character called the Once-ler, it tells the tale of his destruction of the Truffula trees. The Once-ler discovered the Truffula’s tuft could be knitted into a thneed, a sockish, sweaterish thing that despite seeming to lack any utility, starts selling like hotcakes. Motivated by greed, the Once-ler builds a thneed factory, chopping down Truffula trees left and right. Enter the Lorax, a stout mustachioed creature who acts a spokesperson for the trees. He begs the Once-ler to quit manufacturing thneeds–the pollution is endangering all the local species! But the Once-ler fails to heed the advice of the Lorax, and makes a total mess of the landscape, leaving us with an “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”