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

Sunday 2 October 2011

My Fave Dr Seuss Book: Susan Whelan

Choosing my favourite Seuss is like choosing my favourite child. It simply isn’t possible. I have so many childhood memories of reading Dr Seuss books that it is impossible to choose one above the others.

One of my recent Seuss finds is the wonderful book Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, completed posthumously by children’s poet Jack Prelutsky and children’s book illustrator and author Lane Smith from Theodor Geisel’s notes and sketches.

I found Diffendoofer Day at a local library and was immediately in love. An undiscovered Seuss and one with a wonderful, encouraging, important message at that. An exciting discovery indeed.

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day is set in Diffendoofer School in Dinkerville, an usual school with an unusual philosophy on teaching. The teachers are quirky and the subject choices bizarre. Even the cafeteria is fun. In comparison, the neighbouring town of Flobbertown has a school where everyone looks and acts the same dreary, boring way.

When a surprise test is held, the students panic. Failure will mean that Diffendoofer School will be closed and all the children will be forced to attend school in Flobbertown. The irrepressible teacher Miss Bonkers reassures the students that they don’t need to panic because they have been taught what is really important – ‘We’ve taught you how to think’.

Strongly based on Seuss’ notes, the illustrations also include elements of his sketches as well as some images from other Seuss books. The story is followed by an explanation by Seuss’ editor Janet Schulman of how the book developed from the original notes and features some of Seuss’ draft sketches and scribbled story ideas.

I have bought several copies of this book over the years to give to my children’s class teachers as Christmas gifts. The story is silly and entertaining and the message is simple – it is important to value learning, creativity and individualism. Hooray for Diffendoofer Day is a Seuss book with a message for both children and adults and it has been one of my favourite book finds in recent years.

Susan Whelan is a writer, reviewer and creator of gorgeous literary site Reading Upside Down.