This is a five star book for those who love it, and probably much less for those with timid children who imagine boogey men in the night whenever a strange creaking sound is heard. I averaged that out to a four star rating.
This is one of the more unusual Dr. Seuss offerings. The rhymes are deliberate designed to only evoke nonsensical names . . . belonging to imaginary beings. So it's Dr. Seuss taken to the nth degree.
As such, the book provides many helpful clues to word decoding, encourages love of rhyming, adds humor to the thought of those unidentifiable noises in every house, and helps ease some children's fears of the unknown. However, it requires a lot of sophistication to enjoy this book at all these levels. For adults, the fun may pale before it does with the children . . . so the necessary connection of reading to your child may be lost unless you, as the adult, fall in love with this book. I hope that you will so fall in love . . . if you don't know the book already.
The main drawback of this book is that it may cause some fright for some children. If you have such a child, I suggest you avoid the book. If you are not sure if the book is frightening, talk to your child about how this is supposed to be fun. See how she or he reacts to the first reading. Perhaps you can borrow the book from the library, see it at a friend's house, or look at it in a book store first.
The book's basic structure is to take a common household item, and rhyme it with a made-up word: basket -- wasket; curtain -- jertain; clock -- zlock; sink -- nink; lamp -- zamp; etc. The parallels are placed close together, like this: "But that BOFA on the SOFA . . . Well, I wish he wasn't here."
The book is thus very good for identifying the visual form of the household items. As such, the choice or words and images are good for beginning readers. The rhymes show the way that words are often formed in English, providing a certain subliminal form of learning. But they also indicate that if the letters don't add up the right way, there's nothing that can go with them . . . except imagination. The book has the poetic license to encourage your child to use her or his imagination in the same way.
The drawings are very humorous, and many of the creatures are small, fuzzy, and friendly. But some are not, and that's where the potential problem comes in. The child in the story is clearly disturbed by some. For example, the QUIMNEY up the CHIMNEY: "I don't like him, not at all."
These queasy moments are mitigated by the book's end by suggesting that belief isn't required. This allows the reader to come back to reality, having enjoyed the fantasy world. Next, you get the child's reaction in the story. It provides a good launching pad for discussing the meaning of the story with your child.
Any number of follow up exercises with your child can be rewarding. Why not start by writing some rhymes and drawing some pictures that make the scary creatures seem ordinary or friendly to your child? For example, the ZILLOW on the PILLOW could become someone who only tells funny stories. The NOOTH GRUSH on my TOOTH BRUSH could become someone who helps scrub your teeth cleaner, and then puts the tooth brush away. You get the idea. This would help your child understand that there are many uses to which imagination may be applied, including making the world a more wonderful and friendlier place.
But be sure to get the XOVE out of your STOVE!