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4.7 out of 5 stars
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? (Classic Seuss)
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82 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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!!
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Researchers constantly find that reading to children is valuable in a variety of ways, not least of which are instilling a love of reading and improved reading skills. With better parent-child bonding from reading, your child will also be more emotionally secure and able to relate better to others. Intellectual performance will expand as well. Spending time together watching television fails as a substitute.
To help other parents apply this advice, as a parent of four I consulted an expert, our youngest child, and asked her to share with me her favorite books that were read to her as a young child. "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" was one of her picks.
If my daughter picked the book, you may be wondering why I rated this book at four stars. That is an average rating of five stars for adults and three stars for children. Although my daughter liked the book, I think that most children won't get it. On the other hand, they will think it is funny, and that's a fair benefit from any book. But the moral will be missed.
This book is the most humorous variant on the admonition that every parent uses with children: Don't you know there are people starving in Blank! Because someone is worse off than you is supposed to make you feel better. It never worked for me when my parents tried that. After you have lived a while though, you begin to count your blessings. Having seen the downside as portrayed by Dr. Seuss will make you feel even more relieved by poking fun at your self concerns.
In this book, you will meet people with all kinds of thorny problems, starting with an old man sitting on top of cactus in the Desert of Drize. Ouch!
No job could be as bad as putting the Bunglebung Bridge together. No commute could be as awful as the one on Zayt Highway Eight! If you live in Ga-Zair, your bedroom could be at the top of one tall house and your bathroom at the top of another. Anyone who has ever taken something apart and had difficulty putting it back together again will sympathize with poor Berbie Hart and his Throm-dim-bu-lator, which he has taken apart. Gardening comes in here, too, for poor Ali Sard makes so little money mowing his uncle's grass that he has to moonlight by painting flagpoles.
Just to tell you how effective these images are, I found myself practically having frustration daydreams by just looking at them again. Dr. Seuss knew his audience of older children well.
If your child loves the book, don't hold it back. But if you love it more, just borrow it from time to time when you need a morale boost!
After you have finished reading and enjoying this book, ask yourself how you could take your now-perceived good luck and turn it into even greater luck. If you are like me, you will often have resources and capabilities that you take for granted. How else could you be using these blessings to your advantage as well as the advantage of your children, those you love, and others?
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Adults as well as children appreciate this book. The message that we should all consider how lucky we are is delivered in classical Seuss style with rhymes and nonsensical words - but is still a powerful message that most of us need to hear now and then. I consider this one of his best works because it not only delivers a good message, reading it is delightful entertainment. Read it aloud to both young and old.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When one mentions 'Dr. Seuss' the cat in the hat, Green Eggs and Ham and of course, the Grinch who Stole Christmas come to mind, yet this has always been considered a classic. Why you are asking, just why is that? Is it because it is good, or bombastic? Why is this book considered a classic? Could it be it's marvelous jokes, or it's enjoyable little mischevious pokes, at the world around. Is it because it is so implausible, in fact applausible, in it's own right? Could it be that it is more fun to read at night? Why isn't it here or there? Why isn't it anywhere? The content of the book at charge, is amazingly hysterical, the enjoyment was large. If I had to choose one book by Seuss, this would be the only one to NOT say, vamous. It is philisophical, optical, practical, and factual. It can be enjoyable for 3-year-old Sally or 30-year-old Sam! After reading such a great book, I personally took a second look, at how lucky I really am.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
From my childhood to today, this is by far at the top of my "best book" list. I watch in amazement as my 5 year old ponders the situations and realizes how nice it is to feel secure and loved right in her own home. The philosophy in our house comes from the simple line, "....Thank goodness you're not something someone forgot....".
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 1997
Format: Audio Cassette
While it is one of Dr. Seuss' more obscure works, it is possibly one of his finest. I have enjoyed this book greatly since my early childhood; so much that I have come back to it several times when life seemed lousy. It mixes an important message with whimsy in true Seuss form.
I certainly recommend this book. It is a wonderful and entertaining example of his literary and lingual mastery.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Did I Ever Tell You... has inspired my children (and me) for 20 years. When we recently discovered our old copy of it, our 3 year old was just as enamoured as our 20 year old was when he was that age. A classic for a positive outlook on life. I have often counted myself fortunate not to be "Poor Ali Sard!"
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This was, by far, my favorite book growing up. I loved trying to figure out how to say the strange words and eventually, I could almost recite the entire book from memory. I still can the first few pages. I don't know that I was helped psycologically, but it sure was and is a fun book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
This book is educational in its own way. I receved the message "no matter what happens you are always luckier than any one in this book". On a 1 to 10 scale I give this book a 7 because this book has a very simple message and some of the other books have a more meaningfull message. But if ever do have kids this is a book I would definitely read this book to them when they are feeling down.
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Format: Hardcover
At the moment this classic children's book is listed on Amazon as 4,882 in books, which considering the millions of books available places it very high on the popularity list of books actively being sold today. (The rating reflects daily sales and changes constantly). I admit we long ago - in human lifetime speak - read this book joyfully to our own children until we reached the point that quotes from it still occur to me in conversation, as perhaps it does in their minds as well. Today I saw the book sitting in my pile and it being a Saturday, and I having it much better than all of the poor folks described in the book, certainly feel luckier than they are. I have a Saturday morning free to spend contemplating with my only obligation to go to the symphony this evening with my family since we have subscription tickets. We are clearly muchly much more lucky than many other people. There is a German word that has become an English word because as far as I know English speaking people wouldn't otherwise think this way: Schadenfreude. This book is loaded with it. Which brings up a relatively recent book by Steven Pinker "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined" which I highly recommend though certainly not to 4 to 8 year olds, that basically argues this is the least violent per capita time in human history (including even prehistory) and the reason for it is mostly literature that makes us feel for other people. If that is the case, I wonder if this book by Seuss is a counter movement to that described by Pinker. After all, it encourages happiness because by comparison everyone else (at least the examples in the book) are so much worse off, that we should be happy with our lot in life as miserable as we think it is. In short, instead of empathizing with people from all cultures and types of life - exercising our mirror neurons - we should exult over our comparative un-misery. The newspapers do a great job of emphasizing the same thing. Bad news sells. Perhaps because it gives us a great feeling of security that we are so muchly more lucky than everyone in the paper. So this great lesson that we read to so many of our young people turns out to be a child's introduction to Schadenfreude - a trait perhaps we shouldn't really want to inculcate in our young people after all. The moral narrative of feeling better by appreciating how much worse everyone else has it may be positive and uplifting in one sense, but tragically negative in another. Must make one pause and think about the human dilemma.
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