Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
by Dr. Seuss and with some help from Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith
Illustrated by Lane Smith
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 1998
Age 4 and older
"I've always lived in Dinkerville, / My friends all live here too. We go to Diffendoofer School - We're happy that we do... I think we're learning lots of things / Not taught at other schools..." One day the principal announces that "All schools for miles and miles around / Must take a special test, / To see who's learning such and such - To see which school's the best..." If the Diffendoofer kids do not do well, they'll have to go to school in Flobbertown, where everyone does everything the same, where even the dogs are scared to bark. Miss Bonkers saves the day with a pep talk: "We've taught you that the earth is round, / That red and white make pink, / And something else that matters more - We've taught you how to think." Dr. Seuss's editor calls the book a "a story in celebration of individuality and creative thinking," something of which many earlier Seuss heroes are also guilty. Does the narrator of the newest madcap Seuss adventure sound like the ones children have enjoyed for more than five decades? Yes, remarkably so -- remarkably because the late Theodor Seuss Geisel (known throughout the world as Dr. Seuss) did not complete this manuscript prior to his death in 1991. Janet Schulman, his editor for eleven years, was aware he had once wrestled with the idea for a book about a teacher named Miss Bonkers, and some time after his death, she asked to see the unfinished manuscript. In a concluding section, "How This Book Came to Be," Schulman tells about "fourteen pages of wonderful colored-pencil sketches..." Each page had "... a scrawled couplet or two in Ted's characteristic hand printing. Some pages had as many as four different sketches. The package also included ... lists of possible names for the school and places in the school, such as the lunchroom and the gym." Although these pages were definitely not a book, Schulman was convinced there was "...something so fresh, funny, and, in a way I couldn't possibly explain, important about these sketches that I wanted to find a way to publish it." She called upon two of today's published humorists for children, poet Jack Prelutsky and artist Lane Smith, to try to work with Geisel's original ideas. They more than met the challenge. There's even a bonus for observant Seuss readers: cameo appearances by some of the recognizable Seuss characters. Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! is a successful humorous story for children. Schulman's final thirteen pages discuss the story behind the story and contain reproductions of Geisel's notes, representing an unparalled view of Dr. Seuss's creative process. Hooray for Dr. Seuss, Janet Schulman, Jack Prelutsky and Lane Smith. Oh, yes, and hooray for Miss Bonkers and the other teachers at Diffendoofer School! Like good teachers everywhere - like Dr. Seuss, himself - they help children learn how to think. CCBC categories: The Arts (GMK; May 11) © Cooperative Children's Book Center