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The Lorax    by Dr. Seuss order for
by Dr. Seuss
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2008 (1971)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dr. Seuss was clearly ahead of his time in his concern for the environment when he wrote The Lorax, which has recently been reissued and printed on recycled paper.

The beginning looks like a grey and haunted setting for a horror movie as a boy embarks on a quest to find out from the old Once-ler: 'What was the Lorax? / And why was it there? / And why was it lifted and taken somewhere / from the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows?' After he pays 'fifteen cents and a nail and the shell of a great-great-great-grandfather snail', the boy hears the story by Whisper-ma-Phone.

The Once-ler tells of a glorious place in olden days 'when the grass was still green / and the pond was still wet / and the clouds were still clean' and he saw for the first time 'The bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees! / Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze' - along with Brown Bar-ba-loots, Swomee-Swans and Humming-Fish. What did he do? He began cutting down Truffula Trees and knitting Thneeds from them.

Which is when the Lorax appeared - 'He was shortish. And oldish. / And brownish. And mossy. / And he spoke with a voice / that was sharpish and bossy.' The Lorax, you see, spoke for the trees. But the Once-ler was much too busy cutting them down, knitting and selling Thneeds, to listen. Next the Lorax spoke for the Brown Bar-ba-loots, who lacked Truffula Fruits to eat. Then the 'smogulous smoke' made the Swomee-Swans leave, followed by a Humming-Fish exodus from their polluted pond.

The Once-ler ignored all advice and kept on biggering his operation ... until the last Truffula Tree was felled. Then the Lorax departed too, leaving a cairn with one word - UNLESS. After years of pondering, the Once-ler concludes 'UNLESS someone like you / cares a whole awful lot, / nothing is going to get better, / It's not.' Indeed it's not and Dr. Seuss serves up in The Lorax a lesson that's still timely for all of us.

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