One Fish Two Fish
Red Fish Blue Fish
by Dr. Seuss




Dr. Seuss's One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 3-8

A beginner book of poems for small vocabularies

I think Dr. Seuss did himself a bit of a disservice with this 1960 book of short, rhyming poems.

Had it been me, I think I would have entitled it One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and Other Poems.

Summary and review

This was one of Seuss's "Beginner Books," weaving whimsical magic with a smaller vocabulary than anyone had previously thought possible. But if you think of this as one of his less memorable books, it's because the title poem ends just a few pages in.

The real theme of the book, a little black and white whiskered gentlething informs us at the beginning, is

From there to here,
from here to there,
funny things
are everywhere.

Once Seuss gets going, the book is really a collection of short, untitled two page poems about strange, Seussian creatures. For instance:

At our house
we open cans.
We have to open
many cans.
And that is why
we have a Zans.

A Zans for cans
is very good.
Have you a Zans for cans?
You should.

My point is this: If Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) had thought to give these short, stand-alone poems their own titles, we would likely remember this book differently. We might have realized his talent for spinning simple, Shel Silverstein-esque ditties, in addition to everything else we remember him for!

A Zans for cans. No fish in this poem! (Confession: we gave this more Seussian colors than the original.)

So I have a suggestion for your beginning readers as they tackle Dr. Seuss's One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish: challenge them to demarcate the separate poems by giving each one its own title!

All they need do is borrow words from each rhyme. For instance, "A Zans Can Open Cans" would be a fine title for the above-referenced ditty. And what about this one?...

Today is gone. Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
Every day,
from here to there,
funny things are everywhere.

Dr. Seuss's One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish is one of the most purchased children's books of the 20th century.


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