Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Question: Why Do You Hate Me?
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! I hope you're partying it up in the afterlife like a Who on Christmas. If anyone has earned it, my good dude, it's you. Your expansive oeuvre has brought joy to countless children around the world, and you've taught them important life lessons about social justice and kindness via giggles and whimsy. But your most significant and enduring legacy, perhaps, is the fact that you instilled a love of reading in generations of little ones. Thank you.
But we need to talk, Dr. Seuss. Because as a parent, I must know: Why do you hate me?
Please don't get me wrong, I think your work is awesome (minus those really racist cartoons you drew early in your career, though I'm glad that you apologized for them later). Horton Hears A Who is one of the best books on allyship I've probably ever read. (Horton doesn't speak for the Whos but, instead, uses his privilege to help them speak for themselves and even when it threatens his privilege!) The Lorax gets me all choked up every time. There's A Wocket In My Pocket is a delight. Clearly, I am a fan of your work. So are my kids.
But do you realize that Horton Hears A Who is 72 pages long? That is an unseemly amount of pages! And it's not even like you put a line or two on each page, my dude! Those are full-ass paragraphs! Do you even understand that we are reading these books to our children at the end of a very long day of parenting? Do you know what I don't want to do when I'm thiiiiiis close to the finish line? Read a book that's 72 pages long when I could read, say, Mo Willems' also awesome Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, which is 40 pages with about a line on each page. Or Sandra Boynton's Moo Baa La La La, a mere 14 pages! Now there's a writer who knows what parents are up for at a 7:45 p.m. and after a probably two-hour long ordeal at the dinner table.
As a busy mom who just worked a full day, drove my kids all over creation, cooked dinner, cleaned the house, and wrangled my two little hobgoblins into bed, I do not need to read a novel right now.
I'm a former theater kid, too, which means I don't half-ass it when reading aloud. Every character has their own voice. The Onceler sounds like Tom Waits. Maisy the Lazy Bird sounds like Natasha Leggero. In other words, good sir, I come correct. So the least you could have done is maybe calm down with all the characters. And do you know what happens when I try to phone it in? My kids immediately yell at me! "Nooooo! That's not how Maisy the Lazy Bird talks! Do the right voice!" That gets tiring. Do you know that the Onceler and the Lorax (who have very different voices, by the way, because my range is a thing of beauty) also go on for 72 mother-loving pages?! I'm not saying you're a hypocrite, but for a book that's all about saving trees it sure does use a lot of paper.
And here's the thing: we got premise of the story, like, 50 pages ago. Take care of the environment. Awesome! Thank you for sharing this important message. We're on it, Dr. Seuss. We'll plant all the Truffula trees. The Sneetches (also somehow impossibly 72 pages!) message? anti-Semitism is bad. Great! Lesson learned, we'll stop caring about belly-stars. Yertle the Turtle (almost 100 pages!) is Hitler — duly noted. Boo Yertle/Hitler! And while Green Eggs and Ham is a "spare" 62 pages, there's only 50 words in the whole thing! Do you have any idea how tedious it is to read the same 50 words over the course of 62 pages? Cat in the Hat is 61 pages and has four times as many words!
And you know what you can't do when you're reading one of your many wonderful books to a child? Skip a single page in an attempt to speed things along. Hell, you can't skip a single word. Because the kids? Oh yeah, they love your stories, Dr. Seuss. You've instilled such an abundant love of reading in them that they can't bear to miss out on one itty bitty bit of your genius. They have all your books memorized (which sometimes makes me wonder why I really need to read them anyway, but I digress). So if I try to skip the bit about the Yink or the Boxing Gox in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, my wily kids will halt the proceedings and flip back.
Look, I'm not trying to tell you what to do, man. Your stories are wonderful and, as works of artistry, I would not change a word. But as far as practical application of your product goes, I'm sorry but I just don't think you were thinking. As a busy mom who just worked a full day, drove my kids all over creation, cooked dinner, cleaned the house, and wrangled my two little hobgoblins into bed, I do not need to read a novel right now. I know you can't do anything about it now, but I would really love to know why you're doing this to me. I mean, what did I ever do to you?
On behalf of tired parents everywhere: What the hell, my man? Perhaps I can put this in terms you'd understand:
I really like your books and rhymes,
I just don't like them at all times.
I do not like them when it's late.
I do not like them after 8.
I do not like long paragraphs
When I would much rather nap.
I do not like a bedtime tome.
I sometimes regret bringing them into my home.
But Doc, my kids think that you're thrilling
A love of reading you're still instilling.
Even I love your stories of Grinches, elephants, and birds
But did you have to use so many words?