Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dr. Seuss: Insane Or Evil?

As someone with small children and someone who works with children, I read a lot of Dr. Seuss. I remember enjoying the books as a kid, and I got a bunch for my kids, thinking they would be fun. It was a bad call. I now dread the appearance of any of these books. Just seeing Viri with a stack of them sends shivers down my spine. Most other children's books I can tolerate. Some I even actively enjoy. But these are evil and wrong.

There are two particular ones that I hate reading. Perversely, they are Viri's favorites. (I think Arkaedi Sue is with me, she runs away when I start reading.) They are the well known tome of darkness The Cat in the Hat, and the lesser known Ten Apples Up on Top. Ten Apples is widely believed by scientists to have created a hatred of math in all children everywhere. Even those who have never heard of the book, interestingly enough.

The Cat in the Hat is often talked about as being an odd choice for a child's story. The home invasion of a feline as the basis for whimsy? Really? Several times during the story he reassures the kids that he is not bad. Now, much like a man who tells you how "into" him a woman was, anyone who says they aren't bad several times upon first meeting you is really, really bad. He is likely twisted and evil, and will be wearing another person's skin before the tale is told. Or, a cat skin, in this case.

After coming in and wrecking the place, and ignoring the sensible advice of the fish, he introduces two strange and frightening clown monsters to the kids. Called "Things," which is ominous enough. Even as a kid this bothered me. What are they really? Why do they not have names? Are they horrible Lovecraftian beasts that cannot be named? Please make them stop flying the kites.

Seriously why do they never listen to the fish? You just know the kids, under the influence of the hellcat, start tormenting the fish more and more. I hope the fish escapes the house and gets to a river before the awful kids sacrifice him or torture him. We know, of course, that like Jason and Freddy in other horror stories, the Cat in the Hat comes back.

Ten Apples Up on Top is less creepy, but there is one part that really bothers me. When the animals finally reach their goal of ten apples on their heads (Seriously boring day, I guess) a bear and various evil bear children start trying to kill them. They chase after the apple balancers with brooms and tennis rackets, threatening to knock the apples off. This is never explained. It even bothers my three year old, so someone must have noticed it before me. ("Why are the bears mean, Papa? Even the Mama Bear?")

They succeed, sadly. They knock the apples off of their heads. Then, on the last page, they all start talking about how much fun it is to balance apples on their heads! Too little too late, hate mongers! When I'm pouring out a forty for my homies, I like to balance an apple or two on my head as well. To keep it real for those who stood against the bear haters.

6 comments:

xmiyux said...

But there is the Lorax. That shows his kinder gentler side!

barker blog said...

Mr.once-ler.with one seussula seed left.start a new forest,a new forest I say.So that the lorax and all of his friends,may come back again someday.But there is the lorax............but there is the lorax.WOW! i really like that line.

barker blog said...

you should try writing children books,is what i was saying.start a new forest,get it?you would be good at it......

Dawn Kohler said...

I've always thought Dr. Seuss was kind of dark for a children's author too. I tutored in and elementary classroom and always hated when one of the students would want to read a Dr. Seuss book with me.

Anonymous said...

Kind of neutral on Seuss, but these are really vague explanations, aren't they? If you're going to interpret the stories that way, then pretty much anything could be seen as a dark evil version of itself.

Anonymous said...

dr.seuss was declared crazy