Posted by: Erica Gillingham | April 24, 2012

Guest Blogger: Holly Grise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Dr. Seuss, London: HarperCollins Children’s Books, pb. 978 0 00 736554 8, £5.99, 2010 (this edition), 50pp.

I realize that I’m possibly making some of you cringe by bringing up a Christmas-themed picture book in April, but for my first review I wanted to select not only a great picture book but also one that was special to me. This book feels so much a part of me that I don’t feel complete unless I read it every year.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is Dr. Seuss at his best. An omniscient and rather opinionated narrator introduces the reader to the Grinch and his dislike of the Whos in Who-ville during Christmas. The narrator supplies the story of how the Grinch attempts to ruin Christmas while also almost winking at and nudging the reader at the awfulness and ridiculousness of the Grinch. “Then he went up the chimney, himself, the old liar.” Phrases such as “the old liar” pull in readers to identify with the point of view of the narrator and also allow readers to act as all-knowing beings who know better than the silly old Grinch. This relationship between narrator and reader makes the book’s message feel like a joint endeavor. Readers feel that they themselves are teaching the Grinch the true meaning of Christmas.

While readers feel pride in teaching the Grinch an important lesson, they take absolute delight in the readability of the text and the play with language. The rhyme and rhythm of the text begs it to be read aloud. Each time I pick up the book to read it I attempt to read silently only to discover several pages in that I’m actually reading aloud to myself. Words that are changed to maintain the rhyme scheme (“chimbley” instead of “chimney”) and the use of alliteration and repetition (“And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore”) show readers how fun language can be. One of the best lessons I’ve learned from children’s books, especially books with poetry, is the importance of understanding how words work so that you can later break those rules to create something new and exciting. Dr. Seuss is an excellent introduction to this lesson for any child.

 

Holly Grise is a freelance writer and editor in educational publishing and hails from Ohio, USA. You can learn more about her on our About Us page or check out her blog, Embracing the Geek. We’re very excited to have her keen insights in children’s literature now on Picture Book Palette as a guest blogger!

Photos by Holly Grise

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