Dr. Seuss's I Am NOT Going to Get up Today!
illustrated by James Stevenson
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A book about sleeping in
There's plenty of evidence that Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) was himself pretty tired in 1987, when this book was published.
He was in his 80s. The previous year he had published only his second book for adults, You're Only Old Once: A Book for Obsolete Children, wryly poking fun at the medical travails of old age.
So a year later he published another book for children, depicting a kid quite content just to stay in bed.
Not just willing to sleep in, but rather joyfully insistent upon it!
I don't care if kids are getting up
right now all over town.
I'm the kid who ISN'T getting up.
I'm staying down.
Did Geisel see himself as that kid? Perhaps. Looking at the stanza above, he even sounds tired. The rhythms are inconsistent; the words don't trip off the tongue. Writing a whole book in Seuss's familiar anapestic tetrameter requires huge effort and discipline, and he just doesn't seem to have it.
Too, Mr. Geisel handed over the illustrating reins to someone else on this one. James Stevenson's pen and watercolor artwork is upbeat and colorful and a good deal more realistic than Seuss's work.
Still, Seuss's stellar sense of absurdity manages to take control of the proceedings toward the second half of the story as the community grows outraged over the prospect of a young boy refusing to wake.
Angry neighbors bang pots and pans. They hold baying dogs, honking geese and even a rooster up to the boy's open window. "Boy Won't Get Up" is the newspaper's headline. Even the police are called in.
You can print it in the papers.
Spread the news all over town.
But nothing's going to get me up.
Today I'm staying down.
I don't know about you, but I sure hear a tired old man in that.
I Am NOT Going to Get up Today is a Seuss Beginner Book, with easy language aimed at beginning readers. And as sad as the context of the book may seem, children will have no sense of it. The depictions are unerringly of a child joyously standing up for himself by lying down...and staying there.
With I Am Not Going To Get Up Today, Geisel turned his pain into something positive, because when you're Dr. Seuss, I guess, that's just what you do!
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