Dr. Seuss's Come over to My House
illustrated by Katie Kath
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
This one-of-a-kind Seuss book (which he originally wrote as Theo. LeSieg) is a stinging rebuke to any critic (this one included) who accused the good Doctor of writing a little too, well, white.
Yes, his characters tended to appear almost exclusively caucasian, and they seemed to live in a male-centric middle-class reality circa 1950-1965.
So modern parents can't be faulted for picking up a given Dr. Seuss book today and fretting that it doesn't feel all that relevant or in touch with modern realities.
Well, Come Over to My House broke that mold, turning a Seuss weakness into a strength.
Here's how he does it...
The book's premise is that the central kid character is being invited by kids all over the world into their unique, unfamiliar homes.
Come over to my house.
I live on a boat.
I live in a city
of houses that float.
In the original version, this host appears Chinese and may very well live along the Yangtze. Illustrator Richard Erdoes captured the environs. (New illustrator Katie Kath is faithful to the original but the pictures feel a little more upbeat.)
But note how well Seuss is suited to this exercise. We're used to him describing fantastic, imaginary landscapes. Well, he does the same thing here, only here the landscapes are real...though no less alien to our sensibilities.
In a faraway place,
in a wide empty land,
my house is a tent
in the wind and the sand.
The only difference is he's describing Saudi Arabia and not the "far-off sand planet of Dry-desert-a-loo."
Seuss does more here than describe differences though. Throughout the book he makes the point that despite coming from different cultures, despite perhaps looking different, kids the world over have more in common than not, and they'd all want to be your friend if they only had the opportunity to meet you!
Some houses are marble,
and some are just tin.
But they're all,
when a friend
asks you in.
All of Dr. Seuss's books.
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