BLOG-Happy Birthday, Dr Seuss
- Published: March 2, 2013
Today is Dr Seuss’s 109th birthday. For a special treat, my daughter’s kindergarden class threw him a birthday bash. The children made party hats—featuring “Cat in the Hat” top hats and “Horton Hears a Who” floppy ears—festooned in the trippy colors that the author would have loved.
He also would have been amused by the treats. The children prepared food frying ham strips and scrambling eggs with green food dye in an electric skillet. They divvied up the green eggs and ham onto plates and grabbed juice boxes wrapped to look like he “who speaks for the trees”, the Lorax. In addition to the savory fare, one of the class moms brought in candied green eggs and red/white top hats. The striking confections in white chocolate needed no sales pitch from Sam I am… “I would eat them with a goat and I would eat them in a boat…” The children munched on their creations as Ms Denman read “Green Eggs and Ham”. The book was an obvious favorite as the children finished the many rhymes with whoops and giggles and open smiles.
Dr Seuss embodies the best traits of my grandmothers: Grandmother Katherine’s steady sense of responsibility and Grandmother Helaine’s unrestrained embrace of whimsy. His attention to invention and grace, redemption and ridiculousness left us an amazing legacy.
His characters may not be the best role models—the surly Grinch, the mischievous Cat, and the immodest storyteller Marco of Mulberry Street—but his lessons reverberate as well as his rhymes. The biggest treat on Friday afternoon was seeing the children’s obvious pleasure and admirations for his books. I think they would have happily stayed gathered around our feet for many more of his storied rhymes. The two books I especially treasure are “The Lorax” and “Horton Hears a Who”. In ways that are both timeless and timely, these books teach stewardship. The Lorax speaks for the trees. Horton speaks people who can’t be heard. My daughter pulled the Lorax from the bookshelf eager to show me the cartoon character in all his unbashful silliness. She may not fully understand his calling “to care a lot”, but she unabashedly loves the character. That regard is the first step toward sharing his care for the forest.
The children chose to end the day with Horton the elephant, and Ms Denman obliged. I found the choice especially fitting for a group who this month have been studied peace, the pain of bullying, and the healing magic of filling each others’ buckets. They gathered to hear the tale about that robust fellow Horton whose great talent was the keenness of his hearing but whose finest gift was his empathy for all people—big like him and those persons so very, very small.
We weren’t able to finish Horton’s tale before the final dismissal of the day. Ms Denman promised to return to it on Monday and to continue the lesson. In today’s story, the children may have thought of themselves as very small persons…
At the end of the story, I hope that they see themselves as Horton, the defender of all.