A young boy goes to visit the reclusive Once-ler to hear the story of the lifted Lorax. The Once-ler tells of how the land was alive with wondrous plants and teeming with all sorts of creatures when he first came there to live. But almost immediately, he started a business that relied on chopping down the fuzzy Truffala trees to make his Thneeds. Soon the Thneeds were selling like hotcakes, and he was cutting down more and more trees to fill orders. The Lorax came to warn the Once-ler of the folly of his greed, but the Once-ler wouldn't listen. Soon the supply of Truffala trees was depleted, and all the creatures who depended upon them for food and shelter were gone. Now the land is dreary and barren, but with the boy's help, perhaps it can regain its former beauty and bring back the Lorax.
I've been a huge fan of Dr. Seuss since childhood, but there are many of his books that I didn't get a chance to read as a child. The Lorax is one of them. I first read it several years ago with my own kids. That's when I realized Dr. Seuss was far more than a writer and illustrator of humorous, whimsical picture books. He was a man with a lot of depth, who cared deeply about things like social and environmental issues. After initially reading The Lorax, I knew I had to look into Dr. Seuss's background a little more, and I was quite pleasantly surprised to discover that he truly was an activist, something to which I can relate. As a child, most of the Seuss books I owned were his more humorous, nonsensical ones, which were always fun to read, but now as an adult, I've become an even bigger fan of his books that delve into deeper topics.
The Lorax is one of those books. The Once-ler, who we never really see, tells the story of the Lorax to a young boy. The Once-ler came to the land depicted when it was beautiful and verdant, filled with fluffy Truffala trees and wonderful creatures of air, land, and water. He cut down the trees for their fluff to make his products, and because business was good, he didn't stop. Despite the Lorax's dire warnings, the Once-ler's greed led him to destroy the land and all it's beauty and drive the creatures away. Now it's just an ugly shell of what it used to be. The moral of the story is that the young boy is the future. He is the only one who can possibly change what happens next and maybe with care and tending will be able to bring back the land's former beauty so the Lorax will return.
I'm incredibly impressed with Dr. Seuss's ability to tell a serious story in a whimsical way. His well-known rhyming prose with nonsensical names, accompanied by humorous illustrations are all there, but while entertaining kids, he also gets them to think about the environment and preserving its beauty. Dr. Seuss manages to present a weighty (and let's face, oftentimes controversial) topic in a fun, non-threatening way. Who can resist the cute little Lorax and all the colorful creatures. It's a wonderful book that I highly recommend to get all ages thinking about doing our part to save the beauty of nature for future generations.
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