THE HAPPY FUNERAL

The rightness of death for the deceased, the painfulness for the survivors—conveyed with exceptional directness in the context of an unfamiliar culture. The reader will immediately wonder, with small narrator Laura, how Grandfather can have a "happy funeral"; as older sister May-May protests, "It's like saying a sad party. Or hot snow. It doesn't make sense." But as the Chinese-American leave-taking unfolds, each custom falls into meaningful place. At the funeral parlor, relatives lay gifts in the casket. Mom's is food "for Grandfather's journey": soy beans, lichee nuts, and, at Laura's suggestion, chocolate chip cookies. Play money, burned, "will be real when it turns into smoke and rises to the spirit world." May-May and Laura have drawn pictures to alight—Laura of Chang, "a dog my grandfather had when he was a boy." (When Chang turns to flame, Laura cries—first, ashamedly, for Chang; then for Grandfather himself.) The funeral brings speeches, recollections, tears; the funeral procession is a fanfare: two cars of flowers, with Grandfather's picture atop the first; a marching, tootling band. ("You'd never guess it was hymns, all jazzed up like this!") But at the cemetery: "Tears are running down Mom's face." The band stops playing. And at the graveside, Laura links her Grandfather's smiling visage with her mother's baffling words. "She never said it was happy for us to have him go." The light-fingered, gray-toned pencil-and-wash drawings display the same combination of sensitivity, economy, and finesse.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1982

ISBN: 0060208937

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1982

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I AM NOT GOING TO GET UP TODAY!

After an eight-year interval, a Beginner Book by this well-loved originator of the series is welcome; and since Seuss hasn't chosen to illustrate it himself, we are lucky to have Stevenson as alternate. In the familiar Seuss pattern of a simple premise exaggerated to comic effect, a boy declares, "My bed is warm. My pillow's deep. Today's the day I'm going to sleep"—regardless of his mother, various arguments, successive waves of reinforcements, including the Marines, and a TV crew filming the momentous event. Actually, the development of the idea is a little tame compared with Seuss' other extravaganzas (and such determined all-day slumber is more the province of teen-agers and the good doctor's contemporaries than of readers at this level); but the book is delightfully enlivened by Stevenson's vigorous illustrations, which considerably augment the text by showing the full extent of the consternation caused by the hero's stubborness. Though there is plenty of the repetition required by learning readers, there are also some unusual words like Memphis, suggesting that this is not the easiest easy reader; but it has enough appeal to keep beginners entertained.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1987

ISBN: 0394892178

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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