'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Review: Oh, The Places You'll Go!

I introduced my daughter to the world of Dr. Seuss at the age of two. Some of his books were too old for her (and still are, at her current ripe old age of three), but some captured her imagination. Two in particular: Green Eggs and Ham and Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

The latter surprised me – she preferred it over The Cat in the Hat, which is much more fun and adventurous, and she’d ask for it repeatedly, listening intently to each and every word.

And here’s what I love about that: this is a book about reality. It’s uplifting, certainly, but it also tells it like it is.

“Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.”

Seuss talks about the good times, the bad times and those in between (which he refers to as “The Waiting Place”), and doing this has the ultimate result of its own positive message. The message that you can – and will – survive the not-so-perfect moments of life, with some advice as to how to point yourself in the right direction again.

A big message for a two-year-old, certainly, but then again what’s the harm in letting her know that not feeling happy and cheery all the time is perfectly normal? With having her grow up knowing that life has its ups and downs, but that she can get through it all?

Books play a number of roles in a child’s life: learning about life, providing reassurance, and some are just fun. There needs to be a combination of positivity, silliness and reality. I want books to teach my daughter that yes, she is loved, and yes, there are good people in the world; that, absolutely, life is wonderful. But she also needs to know that the big bad wolves of the world exist.

Not every book should provide the vague message of ‘you can do anything’ that is so prominent these days.

And a picture book is the best way to ease into these messages, in a fun way and a safe environment.

Title: Oh, The Places You'll Go!
Author/Illustrator: Dr Seuss
Publisher: HarperCollins, $9.99 RRP
Publication Date: Originally published 1990, this edition released 2003
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780007158522
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture book