Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Review - How the Grinch Stole Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
by Dr. Seuss
Date: 1957
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 64
Format: e-book
Source: library

"The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason."

Dr. Seuss's small-hearted Grinch ranks right up there with Scrooge when it comes to the crankiest, scowling holiday grumps of all time. For 53 years, the Grinch has lived in a cave on the side of a mountain, looming above the Whos in Whoville. The noisy holiday preparations and infernal singing of the happy little citizens below annoy him to no end. The Grinch decides this frivolous merriment must stop. His "wonderful, awful" idea is to don a Santa outfit, strap heavy antlers on his poor, quivering dog Max, construct a makeshift sleigh, head down to Whoville, and strip the chafingly cheerful Whos of their Yuletide glee once and for all.

Looking quite out of place and very disturbing in his makeshift Santa get-up, the Grinch slithers down chimneys with empty bags and stealing the Whos' presents, their food, even the logs from their humble Who-fires. He takes the ramshackle sleigh to Mt. Crumpit to dump it and waits to hear the sobs of the Whos when they wake up and discover the trappings of Christmas have disappeared. Imagine the Whos' dismay when they discover the evil-doings of Grinch in his anti-Santa guise. But what is that sound? It's not sobbing, but singing! Children simultaneously adore and fear this triumphant, twisted Seussian testimonial to the undaunted cheerfulness of the Whos, the transcendent nature of joy, and of course, the growth potential of a heart that's two sizes too small.

This holiday classic is perfect for reading aloud to your favorite little Whos.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

When a book is this old and this popular, many people are bound to have memories tied to it. For me, this book takes me back to high school. It was a tradition while I was there that one of the English teachers--an elderly gentleman with an actual English accent--would read this book at an assembly just before the start of Christmas break. To this day, I still think it's one of the neatest things ever: imagine hundreds of jaded teenagers sitting there, absolutely silent and rapt, listening to a teacher read a children's picture book. Nobody was "too cool" to listen and nobody made fun of anyone else for enjoying it.

I hadn't actually read the book myself (not that I could remember, anyway), so I figured I should give it a try. I couldn't get it last year before Christmas, so I waited. I'm glad I finally got a chance to read it for myself.

What can you really say about this one? It's a classic, with a message that's more timely than ever before. The illustrations are kind of goofy, and Dr. Seuss has an annoying habit of making characters grin their speech (et tu, Dr. Seuss?), but I can forgive those things because the book has so much else going for it: fun characters, a strong message, and the wonderful rhyming text that just begs to be read aloud.

I can definitely see why this book has stood the test of time. Kids might be more familiar with the animated special or the movies... but I would also recommend going straight to the source and introducing them to the book. It's a wonderful Christmas story that will probably be enjoyed for generations to come.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 4/5
Meter: 4/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

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