Oh Say Can You Say?
by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss's Oh Say Can You Say?

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 5-10

Dr. Seuss's Terrible Tongue Twisters

I so enjoyed this book full of Seussian tongue-twisters that I thought about writing the whole review in tongue twisting fashion.

Here's what I came up with:

The uses for Seuss's Oh Say Can You Say?
And speaking with spray!

I give it a B-. And it took about 20 minutes to write. That's how hard it is to do what Seuss did. (Which, by the way, he'd done previously in his other tongue-twister book, Fox in Socks, reviewed on this site.)

More examples of tongue-twisting Seuss

Seuss starts off easy, with a limerick:

Said a book-reading parrot named Hooey,
"The words in this book are all phooey.
When you say them, your lips
will make slips and back flips
and your tongue may end up in Saint Looey!"

But before long, we're in the big leagues:

If you like to eat potato chips
and chew pork chops on clipper ships,
I suggest that you chew
a few chips and a chop
at Skipper Zipp's Clipper Ship Chip Chop Shop.

Each poem in Oh Say Can You Say? stands alone, with its own title and a signature Seuss illustration. West Beast, East Beast features two angry green beasts with purple hair and tail tufts:

Upon an island hard to reach,
the East Beast sits upon his beach.
Upon the west beach sits the West Beast.
Each beach beast thinks he's the best beast.

Which beast is best?...Well, I thought at first
that the East was best and the West was worst.
Then I looked again from the west to the east
and I liked the beast on the east beach least.

Crafting a tongue-twister requires the same tools Seuss used when he wrote his Beginner Books, like The Cat in the Hat, which were written with a strictly limited vocabulary of short, easy to sound out words. Here the vocabulary is limited by the need to repeat similar sounds. It's the same skill, so it's no wonder that Seuss is the master. Who needs Sally selling shells by the seashore when you can get Seuss's rhythms and imagination as well!

We have a dinosaur named Dinn.
Dinn's thin. Dinn doesn't have much skin.
And the bones fall out
of his left front shin...

Cropped image. (And we added the arrow.)

Then we have to call in Pinner Blinn,
who comes with his handy shin-pin bin
and with a thin Blinn shinbone pin,
Blin pins Dinn's shinbones right back in.

These are classics. And just to prove it, here's another of mine!

The thing that makes tongue-twisters hard
Is to say 'em, not to read 'em.
Since Seuss is the super smooth tongue-twister bard
Get Oh Say Can You Say?, you can see 'em!

Lots of other books from Dr. Seuss.

Read more of Steve's reviews.

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