Dr. Seuss's Hunches in Bunches
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
Too many options? Too much self-doubt?
On one level, I see this book as a companion piece to Seuss's last book, Oh, the Places You'll Go.
That book, which speaks directly to your child as "you," has the magical effect of spreading a child's whole life out in front of him/her - just as the title suggests.
It's going to be a long life, Seuss assures us, and many wondrous things will happen (probably some not-so-nice things too), and it'll all be a product of decisions you make.
The book is hugely popular.
Hunches in Bunches is kind of a prequel, having been published 8 years prior. It takes that whole life spread out in front of your child, and zeroes in on a single simple decision. And that decision - what to do right now - has left the narrator completely paralyzed.
The book is not so popular. Parents like more hopeful books, I guess. This is a more useful book.
Today was quite an awful day
for me and my poor pup.
My trouble was I had a mind
But I couldn't make it up.
Self-doubt. Too many choices. They aren't even consequential, but they feel consequential to this little boy at the time.
Seuss portrays all the boy's competing notions, his competing ideas, as Hunches. Hunches are familiarly silly Seussian characters that all share one feature: a hat. Those hats are in the shape of hands, each with a finger pointing in a different direction.
A Happy Hunch thinks the boy should be outside playing.
A Better Hunch thinks the boy would be better off going with his friend James, with whom "we'll play a few video games."
But then there's the Homework Hunch. What do you think he thinks?
We live in a "Do something!" culture, and our often over-scheduled children are smack dab in the middle of it. As they hit school age, they're forced to make some of their own choices about what to do with their time.
Sometimes the choices are purely optional. Sometimes they're required, and yet there's only time to do one!
"Oh, the Places You Won't Have Time to Go."
Seuss captures the emotional difficulty in all this by anthropomorphizing the competing instincts and urges and aspirations taking place in the mind - bringing them to life as "Hunches" and letting them fight for the next opening in the boy's schedule.
Hunches in Bunches is nothing less than brilliant. And it's the perfect prescription for a tired, overscheduled child (or adult!).
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