Though looking a little tightly packed in just eight spreads, Dr. Seuss’s cautionary environmental fable takes on fresh energy (and urgency) thanks to Carter’s simple but large-scale pop-ups.
At the prompting of a little boy, the never-seen Once-ler, standing in for all blindly greedy entrepreneurs, relates the melancholy tale of how he turned the Truffula Trees into Thneeds (“a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!”). As he does so, the color scheme goes from vivid green to dismal gray as an idyllic grove is exploited in stages until it’s just a polluted wasteland. Featuring an open design in which the (painfully) small-type text tends to fill up the ground, each spread contains a large central pop-up with several smaller ones at the edges or under shaped gatefolds. In contrast to the radiant burst with which the habitat’s guardian Lorax appears from the stump of the first felled Truffula Tree, views of the smoking, increasingly noxious-looking Thneed factory soon take center stage until, at the end, the Lorax soars off through a putrid cloud, leaving only a tantalizing “UNLESS” behind.
A corner flap opens to the resolution, in which the Once-ler passes the last Truffula seed and the responsibility for nurturing it on to the next generation. Good luck, Gen Z. (Pop-up/picture book. 6-9)