"If I Ran the Circus" is classic Dr. Seuss: delightful rhymes, wacky nonsense words, and bizarre creatures drawn in a playful artistic style. And, as in the best of Seuss' books, all these elements come together to celebrate the power of the imagination. The entire book takes place in the mind of young Morris McGurk, who imagines creating an extravagant circus in the vacant lot behind Sneelock's Store.
And what a circus he imagines! As the scenario unfolds, we are treated to many marvelous sights: a 500-gallon lemonade dispenser, a Drum-Tummied Snumm, a fluff-muffled Truffle, a Spotted Atrocious, a trapeze troupe, and much, much more. Dr. Seuss' distinctive rhyming style is on full display throughout. Typical lines: "Then my Tournament Knights! Noble apes without fears! / Sir Hector! Sir Vector! Sir Bopps! and Sir Beers!"
Throughout the book, young McGurk imagines store owner Sneelock performing in the imaginary circus. This gives the book a subtle touch of gentle subversiveness, since Sneelock is an adult, and thus an authority figure. But the humor is never mean, and in fact Sneelock appears both courageous and talented in the many wild scenarios spun in the boy's head. All things considered, "If I Ran the Circus" is a delight, and another triumph for Dr. Seuss.