Seven rhymed tales, dug from hard to find places! Look for millions of Seuss fans with bright shiny faces!
As Seuss scholar Charles D. Cohen notes in his buoyant introduction, the stories—all published in magazines in the early 1950s, but never elsewhere except, for some, in audio editions—catch Ted Geisel at the time he gave over writing in prose, inspired by new insight into the capacity of children to absorb and enjoy words and word sounds. His command of language and cadence is sure, while the pedantry that sometimes weighed down his later work is also visible but only lightly applied: Extreme greed leads to the loss of a wish-granting seed in the title story, for instance, and an overfed “Gustav, the Goldfish” outgrows every container. (The latter story is an early version of an unrhymed tale published by Seuss’ first wife, Helen Palmer, as A Fish Out Of Water.) In other premises that saw service elsewhere, “The Great Henry McBride” ambitiously daydreams of future careers, and a “Strange Shirt Spot” keeps moving from place to place despite a frantic lad’s efforts to remove it. The buffed-up illustrations look brand new, and despite occasional signs of age—“Oranges! Apples! And all kinds of fruits! / And nine billion Hopalong Cassidy suits!”—the writing is as fresh, silly and exhilarating as it must have been when first seen.
The good Doctor may be dead these 20 years, but he’s still good for splendid surprises. (Picture book. 6-9)