I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today!

And Other Stories

by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss's I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! (And Other Stories)

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 4-8

This isn't Seuss's deepest or most complex work, but it may be his most tongue twisting. (Particularly the 2nd and 3rd stories.) It's also fun and silly, and there are lots of good words to read.

The title story features a little cat in a hat whose confidence is a bit unjustified.

He's feeling pretty good about himself, in fact he's confident he "can lick 30 tigers today!"

Until he sees them. Review continues.

collaged images from I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today

They're big and they're tough-looking (or as tough-looking as Seuss tigers can be), and they look like they're up to the challenge. Suddenly our little narrator isn't so sure he has what it takes. Of course, he's not about to admit that.

He notes that beating up tigers

[Is] sort of
A mean thing to do.
I'll cut down my list.
First group is dismissed.
I'll beat up the next twenty-two.

Tigers are further dismissed for curly hair, dirty fingernails, being underweight, looking sleepy and looking overheated. Then, when our little cat is down to one tiger...

He decides it's lunchtime. Moral of the story (unstated):

It's best not to boast.

I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today

Story two: King Looie Katz

When Seuss gets political, it's usually to poke fun at the pompous folk on top. In this 2nd story, King Looie decides it's undignified for his tail to drag on the ground behind him.

So Looie Katz made Fooie Katz
Follow him around.
And Fooie kept the kingly thing
From dragging on the ground.

After awhile, Fooie decides he himself is too important to have his hindquarters dragging through the dust, and soon assigns an underling to take care of the problem.

And you can imagine what the underling decides.

Soon enough everyone's carrying someone else's tail and no one's tail is dragging, save for poor Zooie Katz, the last cat in line, who, to his credit, quits.

Is this selfishness or high-mindedness? Seuss weighs in for the latter.

And since that day in Katzen-stein,
All cats have been more grown-up.
They're all more demo-catic
Because each cat holds his own up.

See? Political!

I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today

Story three: The Glunk That Got Thunk

One thing worth noting about both the 2nd and 3rd stories is that the meter isn't Seuss's familiar anapestic tetrameter. (Two unaccented syllables followed by an accented one.) Instead, it's formed in iambs. (Alternating unaccented and accented syllables.)

A thing my sister likes to do
Some evenings after supper,
Is sit upstairs in her small room
And use her Thinker-Upper

In this story of the little cat in the hat's little sister, she uses her imagination to conjure a Glunk.

A Glunk is big and green, with yellow eyes and a blonde mane. More significantly, it likes to make long distance phone calls on other people's phones.

"Long distance is expensive!"
Sister cried. "Get off that line!"
But the Glunk dialed Texa-Kota-Cutt

Sister thunk up this Glunk with a powerful chunk of Thinker-Upper think thunking, so it falls upon big brother to help her un-think it.

Could she Un-thunk the Glunk alone?...
It's very doubtful whether.
So I turned on MY Un-thinker.
We Un-thunk the Glunk together.

I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories is inspired silliness from the master, and while it may not go particularly deep, it stands out for being particularly tongue-twisting (even by Seuss standards), making these three stories particularly fun readalouds.

Still more Seuss books.

Read more of Steve's reviews.

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