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and you think YOU have it bad...!!
on May 24, 2001
Theodore Seuss Guisel is, of course, one of the best known children's authors today. Though he left us in 1994, his legacy lives on and his books are still produced, bought and loved as much now as anytime in the past. When we think of him, we immediately think of "The Cat in the Hat" or "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", but we can easily forget some of his wonderful, lesser-known works. "When I was quite young and quite small for my size I met an old man in the Desert of Drize..." So begins "Did I Ever Tell You..." where the narrator finds an old man sitting atop a prickly cactus in the middle of the desert. The man tells the boy narrator that whenever HE feels like his life isn't going well, he reminds himself how lucky he really IS. He could be, for example, a construction worker on the impossibly rickety Bunglebung Bridge, where workers are toiling over the water to finish the impossibly crooked structure. Yes, things could be far worse!! You could be a Poogle-Horn Player who has to honk away on your complex, tuba-like Poogle-Horn while descending a flight of stairs... on a two story unicycle, no less!! The absurdness of people less fortunate splash across each page, Seuss-like, as Mr. Bix wakes up at 6 in the morning to find that his Borfin has schlumpped over, or Mr. Potter who has to dot i's and cross t's on endless, miles-long spools of paper! Yes, things could be far worse than they are, Ducky, so count yourself lucky! Published in 1973, "Have I Ever Told You..." is a wonderfully funny book with some subtle messages. Written during a period of time when parents were still forever admonishing their children, "you're so lucky to be able to eat those Brussels sprouts!! Why, there's children starving in Africa..." the book can be seen as a lesson in morality and thankfulness OR as satire of those very parents who encourage children to think of those less fortunate than them when they crank about life's inequities. Satire or morality play, "Have I Ever Told You..." is classical Seuss at his best. The illustrations are properly absurd and colorful, splashing across the page in Seuss's perennial style. There's humans assembling bridges as well as odd creatures getting stuck in 4-way traffic jams. The illustrations are uncluttered and the text is easy to read, making it an excellent choice for beginning to intermediate readers. A wonderfully fun book, and highly recommended!!