Author: Dr. Seuss
Year published: 1971, renewed 1999
Publisher: Random House
Number of pages: 72
Recommended age: 3-7
Daughter Rating: ★★★½☆
Son Rating: ★★★★★
Grown-up Rating: ★★★★½
Reviewed by: Renee, Danielle and Dominic (Mother, Daughter, and Son)
Summary (from author’s website): “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – – The Lorax. Nearly forty years ago, when Random House first published Dr. Suess’s The Lorax, it sent forth a clarion call – – to industry and consumers alike – – to conserve the earth’s precious and finite natural resources. The message of this whimsical yet powerful tale resonates today more profoundly than ever. In every corner of the world, we are at risk of losing real-life Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee-Swans, Humming-Fish, Truffula Trees, and the forests they all inhabit.
What it’s about: This book is about a weird Once-ler who chops down Truffula trees to make Thneeds. At first, the city has lots of animals, trees, and green grass. When the Once-ler chops the first tree, a Lorax pops out, whatever that is. The Lorax tells the Once-ler to stop cutting down the trees. The Once-ler doesn’t listen and starts chopping more and more trees and he builds a big tree-chopper and a big factory. As he keeps chopping, the animals all leave because there is no food and the water and the air turn bad. The Once-ler chops down all the trees and can’t make any more Thneeds, so there’s nothing left. The Once-ler gives a Truffula tree seed to a boy and tells him to plant it.
What I liked and disliked about it: I liked the funny, interesting names like Lorax and Once-ler. I liked the Truffula trees – they look like long stumps with hair. I didn’t like that the Once-ler was cutting the trees because the trees were pretty. The end was good because the Once-ler learned his lesson and felt bad about cutting down the trees. I liked how the Once-ler used the word “biggering” to talk about how his Thneed company was growing. I felt sad when all the trees and animals were gone and I hope that with one seed, it can all come back.
I didn’t like how the Once-ler was talking to the Lorax. I think I’m getting too old for Dr. Seuss books because the stories are too short; but I still like watching the movies.
My bottom line: I think littler kids like kindergarten kids and maybe kids in Grades 1 and 2 would like this book, but I still liked it.
What it’s about: A boy goes to visit the Once-ler to find out the story of the Lorax. The boy pays the Once-ler 15 cents, nail, and the shell of a snail to hear the story. The Once-ler tells the story of how he came with his wagon to a land filled with Truffula trees, Humming-Fish, and Bar-ba-loots who liked to climb the trees and eat the berries. The Once-ler cuts down a Truffula tree and makes a Thneed which can be anything anyone wants. Out of the stump came the Lorax who told the Once-ler to stop cutting the trees. People came to buy the Thneeds so the Once-ler builds a factory to make more Thneeds and he’s cutting lots of Truffula trees. The Lorax told the Once-ler to stop but had to send away the Bar-ba-loots because there were not enough berries to eat from the Truffula trees anymore. And then he sent the birds and Humming-Fish away because the air and water got brown and yucky. Then he cuts down the very last Truffula tree and now he can’t make any more Thneeds, so the Lorax leaves himself. At the end, the Once-ler gives the boy one Truffula tree seed and tells him to go plant it and take care of it.
What I liked and disliked about it: I really liked the Thneeds and how he made a whole shop of Thneeds – I really want a Thneed! I would use it as a pillow, or blanket, or a chair, or a couch, or a house, or as a rope to catch someone bad. I like how the Lorax just popped out of the tree stump, but he was bossy and mad. The Truffula trees were funny and cool. It didn’t bother me that the trees were getting cut because it was making Thneeds and I liked how the Once-ler’s stuff had the words “Once-ler” on it like his wagon and store. The Bar-ba-loots were funny with the way they climbed trees and ate berries. I liked how the city looked like when none of the Truffula trees were cut down. I also liked the telephone that the Once-ler dropped out of his house to talk to the little boy. I could use one of those to talk to my sister. I like the Once-ler’s house and how you use ladders to get to another floor. I really like the cover and the drawings of the city.
I didn’t like it when the Once-ler said “Shut up!” and when he called him “stupid”.
My bottom line: I think every kid in my kindergarten class would LOVE this book. I can’t wait to see the movie.
What it’s about: This story made its debut (1971) at a time when environmentalism was becoming an important issue. This story is just as relevant today. This is a tale about a Once-ler (i.e., the greedy, corporate Thneed-making company that has complete disregard for the environmental impact of its manufacturing process) and his on-going encounters with the Lorax (i.e., the “tree-hugger” who represents the environmental conscience – – he who “speaks for trees”). The story begins with the description and illustrations of a beautiful world filled with green, lush grass, the colorful Truffula trees, and a variety of wondrous creatures such as the Bar-ba-loots, the Swomee-Swans, and the Humming-Fish who are indigenous to this world. The Once-ler falls in love with the trees, realizing their potential for being used to create a Thneed (that thing that everyone needs!) But emerging from the stump is the Lorax who immediately acts as his conscience questioning why he must destroy a tree to create such a frivolous, useless “thing”. Unfortunately, there is a market for Thneeds and consequently, the Once-ler’s business continues to grow at great cost to the Truffula trees, the surrounding water and air, and the local fauna and flora.
What I liked and disliked about it: I thought I had read every Dr. Seuss book as a child. Well, I must admit that I don’t remember reading the Lorax. Perhaps it might have gone right over my head (as may be somewhat evident by my kids’ reviews – did my son REALLY say he wanted a Thneed!? Sigh…) I LOVED this book! As I was reading it, all I was thinking is that this is a simple story with such a strong message.
The illustrations of the Truffula trees and all the critters make you fall in love with this fantasy world. These images stand in stark contrast to the grey, drab, stripped-down environment pictured at the beginning and end of the book. The story effectively shows the deterioriation of the environment as the Once-ler gets greedier and greedier (love the use of the term “biggering” to describe his increasing greed). We turn pages to see less and less trees as the story progresses. We witness the migration of the Bar-ba-loots who rely on the berries of the Truffula tree. We are incredulous as the Once-ler turns a blind eye to the Swomee-Swans who cannot breathe with the smog created by the factory. We are saddened when the Humming-Fish must “walk on their fins” as their pond becomes inhabitable. But none of this compares to that final moment when the last Truffula tree is felled and the Lorax takes his leave.
But, thankfully we are not left hanging, Dr. Seuss delivers us hope at the very end. Oh, so well done!! Bravo, Dr. Seuss, bravo.
As mentioned above by my children, the Once-ler’s treatment of the Lorax is pretty harsh and some of the language is quite strong. However, compared to the dialogue that occurs in real life between greedy corporations and environmental groups, I find this language quite tame and relatively respectful. Ok, it’s quite disrespectful, but the idea is that the Once-ler is the villain so it just makes him that much more so when he’s mean to that poor little Lorax.
My bottom line: I was pleasantly surprised by this book, but I’m a bit perplexed by what I should say for a recommendation. The message of the book clearly went over my pro-Thneed son’s five-year old head, but my eight year-old daughter felt that the book was a bit too simple for her. I LOVED it. I will recommend this book for 3 to 7 year olds but be prepared to really discuss the message in the book – – otherwise you may find yourself trolling ebay for a “Thneed”.
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