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by Dr. Seuss & Jack Prelutsky & illustrated by Lane Smith

Age Range: 4 - 10

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-89008-4
Publisher: Knopf

When Theodor Geisel died in 1991, he had left behind a half-sketched idea for a book, an ode to joy and eccentricity in education. Enter the nimble Prelutsky and dexterous Smith to finish the project, about a school run by a gaggle of latitudinarians—“Miss Bobble teaches listening,/Miss Wobble teaches smelling,/Miss Fribble teaches laughing,/And Miss Quibble teaches yelling.” Their charges take to the curriculum likes bees to honey, until the dour principal Mr. Lowe (“We think he wears false eyebrows. In fact, we’re sure it’s so. We’ve heard he takes them off at night . . . I guess we’ll never know”) informs them that they must pass a standardized test, or the school will be closed and the students shuffled off to dreary Flobbertown. They pass muster, wholesale, and send choruses of the “Diffendoofer Song” to the heavens. The magic here is in the marriage of Seuss, Prelutsky, and Lane: The Prelutsky voice is delightfully obvious, but he has blended whole slices of Seussian verse into his lines, while Smith has laced the crazy, deliciously colored artwork with cameos of characters and books that any of Dr. Seuss’s fans will recognize. A lengthy afterword (containing reproductions of Geisel’s early drafts) by his editor, Janet Schulman, explains how the book evolved. It’s a model collaboration, because the spirits involved—including Schulman’s—are so obviously kindred. (Picture book. 4-10)