Young Morris McGurk is a conceptual thinker. He takes a look at the big vacant lot behind Sneelock's Store and sees the potential for the greatest circus ever. In fact, he sees roles for Mr. Sneelock to star and work in Circus McGurkus World's Greatest Show. The book is filled with imaginary Seuss creatures and unusual circus acts, far beyond what you'll ever see at the real thing. The marvelous imaginary story is told in rhyme, aided by being able to make up names for creatures to fit the scheme. The circus will have acrobats, jugglers and clowns from 1033 faraway towns. At first, Mr. Sneelock will sell balloons and pink lemonade (all 500 gallons of it). By the end, he does the greatest circus feat of all time, diving four thousand, six hundred, and ninety-two feet into a fish bowl. "Don't ask me how he'll manage. That's his job. Not mine." This last image to me is the most indelible of all the ones in all of the Dr. Seuss books I have read. At boring moments when I can think of nothing else to entertain me, I consider ways that Mr. Sneelock can pull off this trick. (Feel free to e-mail me your solutions.) What I love about the book is the cavalier way that Morris McGurk makes everything so simple. That's the beauty of being young and inexperienced. You don't know what you "can't" do yet. As such, this book will dazzle and amaze youngsters who have it read to them and read it themselves. Actually, circuses operate on this principle. Those who wish to star in the circus dream up new and more amazing stunts, and audition to get starring roles. The job of the impressario is to simply choose amongst the best. The star has to figure out the illusion or feat. Although many Dr. Seuss books have unusual creatures, the ones in this book are more vivid to me for some reason. The Spotted Atrocious is especially menacing. The idea of a Bolster, Nolster who is a lion-trout combination intrigues me. And who could be more challenging than a Grizzly-Ghastly? As you can see, Dr. Seuss has slipped in a little normal language here into the names, which gives the images power that totally abstract names cannot evoke. As a selling point to Mr. Sneelock in young Morris's mind, I've always loved the final section: "Why! He'll be a Hero! Of course he won't mind When he finds that he has A big circus behind." How typical of a child's imagination to totally transform someone's space, work, and world, and then assume that the person will find it all to be to their liking! Another benefit of this book is that many young children find circuses a little scary. Although this circus is filled with fantastic-looking creatures, they are always perfectly well behaved. A parent can use the book to emphasize that the happy result is pretty certain. I can remember worrying as a four-year-old about whether the lions and tigers would get loose in the audience. I suggest that you do a little advance conditioning before a circus visit using this book to help evaporate such potential concerns . . . without providing your youngsters with any ideas they haven't already thought of. After you have enjoyed the book again, think about where your imagination could benefit from becoming less restrained. Where could you make big dreams that others would enjoy? Every great thing in life that benefits us today started as a dream in one person's mind. What's yours?
I can remember being read this book as a kid and yet is probably the only one of the Dr. Seuss range that I have had difficulty in finding in bookshops. Reading it again to my kids did not disappoint. The creatures are very imaginative and although a lot of the rhymes are a little contrived the tongue twisting alliteration is a lot of fun. A great idea to spark your childs' creativity. Read it aloud and even accomplished readers will be surprised at how it makes you laugh - it's not as easy as it first appears!!
After I bought this book for my grandson, I went all the way to our West End to the posh toy shop there, looking for a toy ringmaster. The lovely ladies were stocktaking and therefore happy to chat. 'No ringmasters,' they said, 'but have you given him the Dr Seuss book? It's fab' And they were so right! My son loves it, his wife loves it and my grandson adores it. 5 BIG GOLD STARS!! Thank you very much.
What an imagination, wonderful stories of weirdly fantastic animals and amazing feats. Dr Seuss books are alway witty, fun, enthralling and usually manage a little moral as well, without being at all preachy. Perfect, for reading over and over (which is a great help for early readers) or just looking at the beautiful drawings. A lovely way to unwind at the end of the day.