Dr. Seuss's Because a Little Bug Went Ka-CHOO
illustrated by Michael Frith
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A children's book about chaos theory...kind of!
This Rube Goldberg machine of a book shows a little bug's sneeze starting a sequence of events that lead to a major parade disaster. Steps in between include a worm kicking a coconut tree, a bucket landing on a farmer's head, and a policeman in a sidecar going airborn.
It's all very logical - by Seussian standards - and somewhat more explicable than the proverbial butterfly starting that theoretical hurricane.
That all said, this can't be called one of Seuss's best realized works.
It's in prose...until it rhymes...until it lapses back into prose...until it finds its rhyme again. Would another author have gotten away with such seeming amateurism? Probably not.
Please know that I'm a major fan of Seuss. But sometimes the good Doctor seemed to be just phoning it in.
Maybe that's why he used the odd pen name Rosetta Stone, rather than Theo. LeSieg, which is what he used in other instances when he was writing but not illustrating. Or maybe he thought it would be pretentious to refer to himself as a doctor while taking credit for a picture book about Chaos Theory. Heaven forbid we think him a Ph.D. and call this thing a textbook!
It should be noted that of all the illustrators who worked with Seuss, Frith here is probably the one who most closely emulated Seuss's own work. The characters' expressions seem Seussian, the trees seem Seussian (if a tad more realistic), and the physically unlikely goings-on are depicted in a wonderfully Seuss-like fashion.
Truth be told, Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo! is a perfectly delightful children's book. The disappointment here is that, unlike so much of Seuss, it doesn't provide much enjoyment for adults.
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