Young Morris McGurk lets his imagination run wild with his circus McGurkus. "Fun for the entire family."--Children's Book Center.
Everyone loves Dr. Seuss! A true original, he wrote and illustrated over 50 classic children's books with total sales of more than 100 million copies. For children of all ages.
The circus will have acrobats, jugglers and clowns from 1033 faraway towns. At first, Mr. Sneelock will sell balloons and pink lemonade (all 500 gallons of it). By the end, he does the greatest circus feat of all time, diving four thousand, six hundred, and ninety-two feet into a fish bowl. "Don't ask me how he'll manage. That's his job. Not mine." This last image to me is the most indelible of all the ones in all of the Dr. Seuss books I have read. At boring moments when I can think of nothing else to entertain me, I consider ways that Mr. Sneelock can pull off this trick. (Feel free to e-mail me your solutions.)
What I love about the book is the cavalier way that Morris McGurk makes everything so simple. That's the beauty of being young and inexperienced. You don't know what you "can't" do yet. As such, this book will dazzle and amaze youngsters who have it read to them and read it themselves.
Actually, circuses operate on this principle. Those who wish to star in the circus dream up new and more amazing stunts, and audition to get starring roles. The job of the impressario is to simply choose amongst the best. The star has to figure out the illusion or feat.
Although many Dr. Seuss books have unusual creatures, the ones in this book are more vivid to me for some reason. The Spotted Atrocious is especially menacing. The idea of a Bolster, Nolster who is a lion-trout combination intrigues me. And who could be more challenging than a Grizzly-Ghastly? As you can see, Dr. Seuss has slipped in a little normal language here into the names, which gives the images power that totally abstract names cannot evoke.
As a selling point to Mr. Sneelock in young Morris's mind, I've always loved the final section:
"Why! He'll be a Hero!
Of course he won't mind
When he finds that he has
A big circus behind."
How typical of a child's imagination to totally transform someone's space, work, and world, and then assume that the person will find it all to be to their liking!
Another benefit of this book is that many young children find circuses a little scary. Although this circus is filled with fantastic-looking creatures, they are always perfectly well behaved. A parent can use the book to emphasize that the happy result is pretty certain. I can remember worrying as a four-year-old about whether the lions and tigers would get loose in the audience. I suggest that you do a little advance conditioning before a circus visit using this book to help evaporate such potential concerns . . . without providing your youngsters with any ideas they haven't already thought of.
After you have enjoyed the book again, think about where your imagination could benefit from becoming less restrained. Where could you make big dreams that others would enjoy?
Every great thing in life that benefits us today started as a dream in one person's mind. What's yours?
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.