Friday, March 2, 2012

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not": The Lorax

PORTEmaus Literature Society No. Eleven (Little Kiddies and Celebration of the Man that was Seuss edition): The Lorax

The Lorax

On this date, one hundred and eight years ago, Theodor Geisel was born and the world of literature was given an unparalleled talent in the realm of children's literature. Honestly, the man was a genius and there will go months on end where I am reading the Your Favorite Seuss, A Baker's Dozen, cover to cover repeatedly to my oldest. Of the thirteen separate books in this collection, my favorite is (by far) The Lorax. Although, I do maintain a fondness of Yertle the Turtle and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Which needless to say makes watching the trailers and excessive product tie-in advertisements so infuriating and slightly nauseating.

The Lorax is told from the perspective of the Once-ler, an industrialist and maker of Thneeds (which is a fine something that everyone needs!) to a boy and details the impact that his industrial operations had on the environment. During the gradual degradation of the natural ecosystem, the Once-ler encounters the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, brown barbaloots, swomee swans and the Truffula Trees. In short, all of the creatures. The Once-ler pays little heed to the words of the Lorax and eventually makes the surrounding area so uninhabitable that all of the creatures leave. The story ends with him realizing the error of his ways and bestowing his listener with the last Truffula tree seed with the hopes that when planted, it will flourish and will return the ecosystem to what it once was.

As one might ascertain from the summary of the plot, this is one heavy children's story and many of Seuss' stories are like this. Many reviews (over the years) of this book have highlighted this fact in the negative. Namely, that such controversial topics should not be presented to children and I respectfully disagree with that position for several reasons. Namely, why is pointing out the negative effects of industry on the environment controversial? This is an obvious assessment and from a logical perspective illustrates cause and effect. Furthermore, if childhood (the time when behaviors are learned) is not the time to discuss the importance of nature than when is a good time? Evidently, never.

I have always been curious if Dr. Seuss understood the implications associated with his creation of this book. It is safe to venture that he was conscious of what he was creating. Not only is it a book aimed at children that exposes them to a concept such as environmentalism, he does not limit its narration to "doom and gloom." Sure, it is depressing by any standard and the odds do not look good but he leaves enough hope that you cannot help but believe that the kid will pull it off. Of course, I still do not understand why the book is controversial, perhaps it is the fact that in this case industry (ultimately) has a conscious. Who knows. Either way, Seuss created a literary work that not only transcends age but is timeless in its own right.

1 comment:

  1. I just bought this book for Gonzi Jr...he seems to enjoy it..i did too...though yes it was kind of depressing. But a necessary's not often that a children's book ends without a happy ending.