i have just been through the what pet should i get? conversation with my husband, so a smile came across my face when i opened dr. seuss’s (2015) what pet should i get? characteristically seuss (what do you expect?!?), the book – in all its rhyme and wordplay glory – conveys a sense of the difficulty that comes with making decisions. and not just decisions about which pet to choose.
writing groups can can discuss how seuss successfully builds this pet-deciding tension while at the same time breaking it up with nonsensical wordplay. the narrator and his sister are beyond just thinking about a cat or a dog. oh no, they are seriously considering leaving the pet store with a yent! how writers break up moments of tension/anxiety/difficulty (especially in children’s books) is a topic worth delving into.
only a week after i read what pet should i get?, i came across this article in which joshua barajas shares differing views on seuss’s work: those who believe his writing is nonsensical work and does not deserve such high stature and those who believe his writing is masterful – in spite of and perhaps because of its nonsensical nature. as if i have to say it, i agree with the later sentiment. kids needs to fall in language, and they need to be presented with books that promote a love of language. seuss’s words help readers of all ages wonder about language.
spoiler alert! what the kids finally select (or the male narrator selects – why does seuss have the male narrator versus his sister decide?!?!) is left up for debate at the end of the book. how this move by seuss only draws readers more into the story, actually leaving them with a stronger sense of wonder about what pet should i get? than they may have had at the beginning, is a testament to the power of story, of wonder, of questions. that readers never know what pet the characters take home is probably the best part of the story!
other discussion topics surrounding what pet should i get? include the publication of the book and seuss’s writing process. did seuss intend for this book to be published? should we have a way for writers to designate whether they want ‘found books’ to be published after their passing? i also enjoyed reading my edition’s segment about how seuss went about composing. the idea that his books are so simple, that anyone could write a dr. seuss book, is disproved when readers find out that he worked so hard and for long periods of times on elements of writing others might think insignificant. seuss provides a wonderful case study on the writing process.
my tribute to seuss’s what pet should i get?: let it be known / i put out a wish / please, please no yent / and so i got fish.
would love to hear your reactions to what pet should i get?