Brother Andrew is a few years younger than I am, and available children’s literature had advanced a bit in that time, meaning that he grew up on a diet of Dr Seuss and Asterix the Gaul that was denied to me at an equivalent age. My corresponding development stage drew heavily on stories penned by the now politically incorrect Enid Blyton – elephants have Big Ears because Noddy won’t pay the ransom.
“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”
I’ve always enjoyed reading out loud. Nowadays I only seem to do it as a proofreading check. But I am a child from a family of story tellers. Many of those stories were read from books while we were growing up. Others were Legends shared over dinner tables.
Our televisionless home did have a radio and, in those moving-pictureless days, stories were also told through that channel. Sunday night entertainment treats comprised chopped-up saveloys and tomato sauce and whatever the ongoing saga series happened to be pouring from the mantle radio’s single speaker. Luxury!
“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”
Nonsense notwithstanding, simple language is indeed a powerful thing. Devoid of references to outputs and outcomes, inter alia or viz, it cuts to heart and to the head.
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
I shudder to think how a corporate policy writer or an academic would rephrase an expression like that so it curried favour with their bosses or peer reviewers.
“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!”
Damned straight! The art of planning compellingly illustrated, although perhaps not quite to the satisfaction of today’s politically correct Fun Police.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Which may be a reason why penners of corporate and academic gobbledegook do exactly that. Coping with corporate management systems and their method for allocating tasks is also a reality in the Valley of Vung, as anybody travelling to Solla Sollew will know.
“This is called teamwork. I furnish the brains. You furnish the muscles, the aches and the pains.”
“My alphabet starts with this letter called yuzz. It’s the letter I use to spell yuzz a ma tuzz. You’ll be sort of surprised what there is to be found once you go beyond Z and start poking around.”
That expression rang through my head when my high school maths teacher explained why zero isn’t a number. Life is often bigger than the limits that may be arbitrarily imposed on it. Peter Higgs of Higgs boson fame is probably a bit old to have been influenced having had Dr Seuss read to him as a child. But he has certainly done a lot of poking around beyond Z.
“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
And that’s probably a good place to stop. Remember to take time to read children’s stories – out loud, to children. It’s great fun, and educational.
All quotes supplied by the inimitable Theodor Seuss Geisel, more famously known as Dr Seuss. Most people have a favourite Seussism, and even a back story. Feel free to share yours!