Books Are Pretty

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Ten Apples Up On Top.

I'm probably way too close to this Dr. Seuss classic to be able to review it impartially.(the pseudonym he uses here, Theo Le Sieg, was used when he wrote the text but did not create the accompanying illustrations. "Le Sieg" is "Geisel," Seuss' real name, backwards.)

I remember reading it when I was in preschool, and loving those odd color combinations that I've never seen anywhere else, goldenrod and crimson the only highlights to the thick black lines of india ink. It's the only book I've ever seen that, while obviously in color, feels black-and-white. I still don't know how illustrator Roy McKie managed to pull that off. A quick Google search dug up a couple of McKie's other books illustrated for LeSieg, and noted that he collaborated with National Lampoon editor Henry Beard as well as having had a hand in books ranging in topics from black hair care products to bass fishing, nothing turned up an evidence of the artwork that I loved staring at as a child. Like, those apples! Remember how those animals got those apples to balance on their heads like that? That was crazy stuff! And they drank milk out of glass bottles with the apples on their heads! Hey, I drank milk that came in glass bottles, too! But my mother wouldn't let me open the refrigerator and chug like they did, and I think that is the key right there to a lot of the genius of Dr. Seuss.

Without parental supervision, they opened that fridge right up and broke the rules. The lion, the tiger, and the dog were milk drinkers like me, but they were just a little bit wilder. They were little Goldenrod milk rebels, and God, that was riveting. I would have followed them everywhere after that.

And that bear! What was up with that party pooper bear, swinging that tennis racket around like that? What a buzzkill she was!

(Just as an aside here, have you noticed how many of these children's books published in the 60s and 70s had tennis rackets lying around? It seemed like every cartoon character had its own racket. And its own rock band.)

This is all stuff I remember so vividly when I was around 4, so when I was reading it to Christopher and he pointed at the drawings and asked, "Are they drinking milk?" it felt like, oh, yeah. That's one of the reasons why we have kids.

Ten Apples Up On Top is age appropriate for 2-5.

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