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The Lorax - Still Powerful After 30 Years,
This review is from: The Lorax (Classic Seuss) (Hardcover)
Children used to Dr. Seuss' lighthearted, whimsical stories filled with wacky names and places will undoubtedly perceive a vast difference with "The Lorax". It still contains the wacky names, places, and rhymes, so characteristic of Seuss, but with one blatant overtone. This story goes all out to show the devestating consequences of human greed, and what can happen to the environment when humans misuse and take advantage of nature and natural resources.
The story begins when a boy comes to the home of a peculair creature called Once-ler. The boy wants to know about something called the Lorax; "what it was", and "why it was there". After paying the Once-ler a small fee, he narrates the story for the boy. The pictures incorperated into the story are also poignant; for, as we see in the beginning, the small town in which the Once-ler lives is very grey and barren.
However, as the Once-ler begins his story, the pictures become brighter, more cheerful, and colorful, as we see how the town once looked, long, long ago. There were animals, birds, green grass ... and trees!
The Once-ler says, "I came to this glorious place. And I first saw the trees. The Truffula trees". Transfixed by these trees, the Once-ler cuts one down to make a "Thneed". Now, a Thneed is supposed to be a useful thing, which people can find many uses for. Shortly after the first tree is cut down, the Lorax appears. He explains that he talks on behalf of the trees, because the trees cannot talk for themselves. "They have no tongues".
The Lorax is very upset at what the Once-ler has done. But the Once-ler ignores him, and continues to cut down the trees to make Thneeds, until all the trees have been cut down. This action, of cutting down the trees, building a factory to make the thneeds, and releasing waste residue into the water is greatly illustrated in the pictures, showing the cause and effect of polluting the environment.
Eventually the pictures return to the grey, morbid colors we see in the beginning. The Lorax has had to make all the birds, animals and fish leave the town before they die of hunger and starvation, and before they choke to death on all the smog generated by the Once-ler's factory.
As we can clearly see in "The Lorax", Dr. Seuss is making a very defined political statement about how humans have manipulated and destroyed our natural surroundings for their own personal greed. "The Lorax" was written in 1971, in the hayday of environmental activism, and one year after the first Earth Day.
Still, Dr. Suess does not make this story into a gloomy one. He gives us hope. The Once-ler tosses down a seed to the boy; the one last remaining Truffula seed. With this one seed, Dr. Seuss tells us the possiblities are endless, and hope is not lost.