Dr. Seuss's Gerald McBoing Boing
pictures adapted by Mel Crawford from the film
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A boy who only speaks sounds
When Gerald McCloy turns two, instead of saying, "Mama," and "Dada," he says,
Approached by a friend working in animation with a new movie studio and in search of a story, Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) proposed the tale of a kid who spoke not words but sounds.
Sound effects to be precise.
The studio went for it. Using the work of their own animators (it's said to be based on Seuss's art, but I don't see it), United Productions of America produced a 7 minute short that won an Academy Award in 1951.
And you can see it in its entirety, right here!
The book contains almost all the text from the movie, with the animation faithfully adapted into static illustration by Mel Crawford.
It's a very fun read aloud with an unrestrained adult ready to throw his or her all into the BOING BOINGs and SKREEKs. But like most adaptations, it's not as rich as the original, and let's face it - Gerald McBoing Boing was meant to be a short film more than a book.
(Reviewer's admission: I'm a former screenwriter, and it could be I'm being defensive and not fair. Let it be known that the other reviews I've seen, including by Publishers Weekly, are largely raves.)
Gerald's inability to speak causes grief both with his parents and at school, causing him to run away from home. He's then discovered by a radio station owner, who wants to make him the nation's premier radio drama sound effects man.
(You will likely have to explain to your children that there was a time before TV. Try to pretend that you yourself can imagine such a time.)
The ending is worth noting: Gerald's inability to speak anything other than sounds leads to fame and fortune. This might not be the perfect book for a kid struggling with speech therapy!
Maybe the Gerald McBoing Boing book is right for you and yours, or maybe the video above hits the spot instead. You can't really go wrong either way.
More books by Dr. Seuss.
Read more of Steve's reviews.
Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.