Dr. Seuss's Hooper Humperdink...? Not Him!
illustrated by Scott Nash
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A book about not being invited
Our narrator is going to have a party, and it seems he's going to invite everyone he knows.
Except one kid.
I'll ask Dinny.
I'll ask Dot.
But Hooper Humperdink...?
The text of this Bright and Early book from the Seuss stable is pretty much a rhyming recitation of all the kids who are getting invited to the party, listed alphabetically (or at least by letter).
I like Lucy,
Luke and Lum.
I like the Lesters.
They can come.
Writing as Theo. LeSieg (Seuss's real name was Theodore Geisel), the illustrating reins are handed over to Scott Nash this time around. (Webmaster's note: Actually, the original publication was illustrated by Charles Martin.) And to tell the honest truth, Nash does a better job than Seuss would have with this piece.
A book about being left out is at its heart a book endorsing inclusion, and - let's face it - Seuss's human characters tended to be rather white.
Nash instead presents a many-hued assortment of party-goers, in this 1976 piece that has the look of the era. Some kids wear hippie clothes, some afros; one boy shows up in a turtleneck with a flower.
Nash makes sure we know that Hooper Humperdink, who is white, isn't being left out because of something that can be blamed on the culture. It's just about that unfortunate tendency of kids (and adults) not to take into account the feelings of others.
Unfortunately, Nash can't paint over Seuss's underwhelming ending.
All my good friends from A to Z!
The biggest gang you'll ever see!
The biggest gang there'll ever be!
A party big and good as this
is too good for anyone to miss!
And so, you know,
I sort of think...
...I WILL ask
Not exactly a conversion of the heart for our narrator. You can't really say that events made him see the light.
Even if they don't "nail the landing," with Hooper Humperdink...? Not Him!, the team of Seuss and Nash do manage to effectively convey the sadness of not being included, do manage to make the reader think how bad it would feel to be that guy.
That makes it important reading.
A party picture book we love (written by a big Seuss fan).
All Dr. Seuss books listed.
Other alphabet books.
Read more of Steve's reviews.
Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.