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Chaotic Velocity Filled With Enduring Charm: Dr. Seuss’ What Pet Should I Get?

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Along with Harper Lee and F. Scott Fitzgerald, there’s another author that stashed away a manuscript that was close to being all but been forgotten.

The manuscript belongs to none other than the good Dr. who had the bedside manner of a poet and a teacher.

Yes, the good Dr. being Dr. Seuss.

Found by Seuss’ widow in their La Jolla home, “What Pet Should I Get?” is an almost lost story probably written in the early 1960’s and features the brother and sister duo from “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”

The basic plot of the story is that the brother and sister want a pet and they convince their father to go to the pet store to look for one. At first, the choices are all suburban domestics–cats, dogs, rabbits, etc. Soon, the usual Dr. Seuss-themed hijinks unfold with glorious and fantastical creatures that are would-be pets abounding in colorful bursts across the page.

But the question remains: Is it any good?

It’s better than good.

“What Pet Should I Get?” is vintage Seuss, written with the kind of chaotic velocity that made his work so charming and enduring. And baked into the whimsical tale of creatures big and small all vying for a place in the home of the siblings, is a lesson about the responsibility of choice and the difficult questions we have to ask ourselves in order to make one at all.

Maria Russo of The New York Times writes that the book is, “…a very good example of his particular genius for distilling both the spirit of his times and the timeless mind-set of children. With its galloping anapests, cockamamie creatures and kids off on an everyday adventure that turns hallucinogenic, this late arrival will slip easily into the collection that changed how Americans learn to read — Dr. Seuss books like “Green Eggs and Ham,” which mowed down the teacher-­approved, intellectually inert Dick-and-Jane drivel that sucked the life out of early education in the 1950s.

And, there may be more lost Seuss works on the horizon.

According to Maria Puente of USA Today, “The publisher plans at least two more books based on materials found in 2013 by his widow, Audrey Geisel, and his secretary in the author’s home in the ritzy seaside neighborhood of La Jolla in San Diego.”

She goes on to report: “Only last year, Random House announced it would publish a book of four rediscovered illustrated stories by Dr. Seuss. Horton and the Kwuggerbug and Other Lost Stories, published in September, contains tales originally published in Redbook magazine between 1950 and 1955, then largely forgotten. The main story stars Seuss’s faithful elephant who confronts a crafty and manipulative insect.”

So enjoy the Dr. Seuss renaissance, relive your childhood, and celebrate the discovery of old writings the way Renaissance Europe re-discovered ancient Greek texts that in part led to a rebirth of learning in Europe.

Well, maybe I’m going overboard here about Dr. Seuss’s place in the late 20th century, but for all of those who enjoyed Dr. Seuss in their childhood years, his rediscovered works are a must read.