When I found this book, I had previously considered myself well-versed in Dr. Seuss. I had never even heard of this one before. The copy I bought at a library book sale was already tattered, so I assumed someone must have loved it. Because it was fun for me to read, my small son loved hearing me read it; and read it, and read it. It wasn’t long before I had it memorized. I may forget, occasionally, exactly which character’s tale of woe comes next, but with a small prompt, I can still quote most of the book.
When I was quite young
and quite small for my size,
I met an old man in the Desert of Drize.
And he sang me a song I will never forget.
At least, well, I haven’t forgotten it yet.
The old man goes on to recite at least 20 situations which are most certainly more dire than mine. Though I am supposed to feel badly for these people, these are just the kind of Dr. Seuss pictures I love most. Even the fish in bowls are concerned about what’s going on!
Haven’t most of us been here, at least in our dreams? Perhaps that’s why this character is nameless and faceless. He is us!
Some of these situations are just fun to repeat.
Be glad you don’t work on the Bunglebung Bridge
that they’re building across Boober Bay at Bumm Ridge.
It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it
Are troubled with troubles almost every minute.
Then there’s “poor Herbie Hart who has taken his Throm-dim-bu-la-tor apart!”
And, “Every morning at six, poor Mr. Bix has his Borfin to fix!”
“And think of the
poor puffing Poogle-Horn players,
who have to parade down the Poogle-Horn Stairs
every morning to wake up
the Prince of Poo-Boken.
It’s awful how often their poogles get broken!”
I’m not sure my husband and children could still quote the book as proficiently as I, but much of the text has passed into our family vernacular. We often remind each other that if your old wamel-faddle gets loose, Ducky, you’re gone like a goose. And, just in case we start to feel overwhelmed by yard work, we try to think of poor Ali Sard who has to mow grass in his uncle’s back yard. And it’s quick-growing grass that grows as he mows it. “The faster he mows it, the faster he grows it.”
In the interest of full disclosure, there is one tiny bun shot.
After his comprehensive catalog of woes, the old man concludes as he began. The boy’s demeanor now assures us that the lesson is well-taken and his attitude will be different henceforth.