A Dr. Seuss Book Worth Reading Again
Question Authority with Bartholomew
There are several tales by the good Dr. Seuss that remind children that sometimes it is absolutely necessary to challenge authority when something just isn't right. Among them are The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, Yertle the Turtle, and my all time favorite Bartholomew and the Oobleck.
The story begins with King Derwin of Did who rules over a pleasant little kingdom that is so long, so wide ... well maybe just a little bit wider, and that has four pleasant seasons in which the sun, rain, snow and fog come down. Now, over time the old king becomes dissatisfied with this situation. Four seasons just aren't enough for him and an important kingdom like his. He wants five seasons instead. He calls together his mystic men and challenges them, orders them actually, to create a new season for him. After a brief consult with each other (12 mystic men in black robes with black cats ... who eat boiled owls [ugh]), the mystic men break their huddle and tell the king they will make "oobleck." The king responds in a puzzled sort of way, saying, "Oo... ooo... oobleck? What is oobleck?" The non-response from the mystics should have been a tipoff something was wrong. They replied "Oobleck is the stuff we'll try to make come falling from the sky. Won't look like rain, won't look like snow, won't look like fog, that's all we know. We just can't tell you anymore. We've never made oobleck before." The king orders his mystic men to hurry off and work their magic.
Here we meet Bartholomew Cubbins, a sort of royal lackie to the king. Bartholomew tries to disusade the king from this adventure. He hears the strangeness of the mystic men's non-response and is concerned. Well, the king won't listen to Bartholomew and the next day the oobleck begins to fall at dawn.
The king is delighted ... at first. He declares the day a national holiday and is very full of himself for what he has done. He imagines how happy the people of Did will be with him for what he's done. He preens. Bartholomew on the other hand worries. The oobleck is coming down in gooey, greeny blobs and sticking to whatever it touches.
Well, I won't give the story away. I'll tell you this. It is up to Bartholomew Cubbins, young and determined lad of lowly station that he is, to speak truth to power and convince the king he is wrong and must repent. At the crowning moment, Bartholomew declares to the king, "You're no king at all, you're nothing but a mean old man! Goodbye!" Find out what happens. Pick up a copy of my old favorite and give it a try. I think you and your kids will both love it and an important lesson in speaking up for what's right will be learned.
For a real treat, if you can find it, seek out the old story record version of this and other Dr. Seuss tales that I enjoyed back in the 1960s. I listened to that recording with all the different character voices, sound effects, and music time and again. If they make an MP3 version, so much the better ... although I have my doubts. Still, you never know.
Finally, if you happen to have anything to do with ministry, check out the book The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss. You'll find a wonderful interpretation of this and many other classic Dr. Seuss tales there, along with applications for ministry.
Dr. Seuss Classics
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