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You're Only Old Once! Paperback – October 13, 1986

4.6 out of 5 stars 636 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Subtitled A Book for Obsolete Children, this unusual item in the Seuss canon doesn't really belong among the children's books. Written to celebrate the nonsense master's 82nd birthday, it follows "you" (an elderly gent in a suit and white moustache) through a physical check-up in some fiendish geriatric clinic. You are measured, prodded, and subjected to all the medical indignities familiar and unfamiliar to the elderly. "You must see Dr. Pollen, our Allergy Whiz, who knows every sniffle and itch that there is... He will check your reactions to thumbtacks and glue, catcher's mitts, leaf mould, and cardigans too. Nasturtiums and marble cake, white and blue chalks, anthracite coal and the feathers of hawks." It's clear that the process is going to be long, but much shorter than the bill. The blurb on the back says it all: "Is this a children's book? Well... not immediately. You buy a copy for your child now and you give it to him on his 70th birthday." Actually, it would make an amusing gift for anyone over 40. --Richard Farr --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Dr. Seuss lightens the aches and pains of growing old with his inimitable wit and wisdom. In this new defense against aging, we follow our hapless hero through his checkup with the experts at the Golden Years Clinic. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (October 13, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006371221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006371229
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (636 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

"A person's a person, no matter how small," Theodor Seuss Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, would say. "Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained and delighted."

Brilliant, playful, and always respectful of children, Dr. Seuss charmed his way into the consciousness of four generations of youngsters and parents. In the process, he helped millions of kids learn to read.

Dr. Seuss was born Theodor Geisel in Springfield, Massachusetts, on March 2, 1904. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1925, he went to Oxford University, intending to acquire a doctorate in literature. At Oxford, Geisel met Helen Palmer, whom he wed in 1927. Upon his return to America later that year, Geisel published cartoons and humorous articles for Judge, the leading humor magazine in America at that time. His cartoons also appeared in major magazines such as Life, Vanity Fair, and Liberty. Geisel gained national exposure when he won an advertising contract for an insecticide called Flit. He coined the phrase, "Quick, Henry, the Flit!" which became a popular expression.

Geisel published his first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, in 1937, after 27 publishers rejected it.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1984, an Academy Award, three Emmy Awards, three Grammy Awards, and three Caldecott Honors, Geisel wrote and illustrated 44 books. While Theodor Geisel died on September 24, 1991, Dr. Seuss lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages to explore the joys of reading.

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#16 Overall (See top 100 authors)
#16 in Books
#16 in Books

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I sometimes think that retirement is when you stop going to work full time so that you can go to doctors full time. Dr. Seuss seems to agree with that observation in this witty, beautifully illustrated book.
The book starts off like most Dr. Seuss books, beckoning you towards a far distant, wonderful land. In this case, the land is Fotta-fa-Zee where there's "no smelly bad traffic," you feel fine at 103, and your teeth and hair are kept strong by chewing nuts from the Tutt-a-Tutt Tree.
Then reality sets in. You've just been reading National Geographic about Fotta-fa-Zee while sitting in the Golden Years Clinic waiting for the physical that no one should ever have. The high point of this whole experience is talking with the fish in the aquarium as you wait, and wait, and wait for the next part of the exam. Naturally, no one will tell you anything about what they have learned from the tests. You have to see more doctors first, and take more tests.
One of my favorite parts is the eye exam near the beginning, where you get both a "eyesight and solvency test." You have to be able to see and pay for the exam to pass.
Pretty soon all of your clothes have been replaced with a gown, and you cannot easily escape even though that seems like the right thing to do. Each test seems worse than the last. The stress test adds stress as well as measuring it. You smell foods, and any that smell good are taken off your diet.
At some point, you make such an impression with your test results that they wheel you around in a wheelchair.
Pretty soon you've got so many prescriptions it takes two pages of poetry to cover all of the directions.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Yes, this really is a book for adults. It has page after page of insights about the clinic "Beckoner," and the waiting room fish, and your gratitude that you're, " . . . not quite as deaf as a post." For most of us, it has been far too long (since childhood?) since anyone read to us just to read to us, rather than pass along information. So for something very special, if you are over 50 or so, read YOU'RE ONLY OLD ONCE to your Significant Other. You'll probably end up hugging each other while you chuckle.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this book while waiting for my husband at a Cardiologist's office. I work for a senior center, and my husband & I AREN'T getting younger. I love the way it recognizes some of the worries of elders & entertains. My copy will go to our senior center's library.
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Format: Hardcover
Call me crazy, but I love the Seuss-meister. His
work is so often overlooked in the world of satire, and too often plunked into the children's book catagories.
This book was not written for kids! How quaint; how rare! He's written for gram and even gramp-air! "Only Old Once" addresses adult fears of doctors in the unique Seuss way, without being distinctly childish. He mocks the testing methods and treatments that many of us don't even want to think about.
Another Seuss gem in a similar vein, is "Daisey-Head Mayzie", who also endures the poking and prodding of modern medicine, all because she was different.
If you haven't read Seuss since your youngest child entered middle school, shame on you; consider yourself properly rebuked, and go get a few Cat in the Hat logoed volumes. Then curl up with a plate of green eggs and ham and let yourself go!
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By A Customer on February 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book for one of my best friends who was turning 40. I showed his wife the book, who decided the theme of the party should be "You're Only Old Once". She even scanned the cover of the book and a few of the pages to make the invitations.
We left the book out so that the guests could sign it if they wished to next to many of the funny pictures.
The book was a big hit! Even with my friend who turned 40.
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Format: Hardcover
Purchased this for my 90 year old grandfather at Christmas. It was just perfect! It contained all the little cliches and complaints he always has himself. You couldn't ask for a more real yet funny book. Great gift for grandparents or anyone. Really an ageless laugh!
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By A Customer on November 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A delightful and delightfully written book. But take care - this is not a book to read to your children; it is completely an ADULT book.
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By Bob on July 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great gift for all your friends turning 50!
Lets them know exactly what to expect in the coming years.
No one could say it better than Dr. Suess.
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