Dr. Seuss's I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A book about confronting obstacles
This is one of Seuss's best. Adults will see the message coming a mile away, but kids won't. Therein lies the value of this wonderful book.
Avoidance is built into our DNA. We know because we see kids practicing it practically from birth.
If you pretend you're sick, you won't have to take that test. If you pretend you're well, you might not have to go to the doctor.
Our young narrator (from the Valley of Vung) lives a life where
Nothing, not anything, ever went wrong
Until...well, one day, I was walking along...
And he stubs his toe. And takes a fall. And gets bit on the behind by a Quilligan Quail.
It's almost as if he bit into the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and found out there are some bummers out there. And boy, would he like to avoid them!
Along comes a man in a One-Wheeler Wubble. And he tells the tale of a paradise, the city of Solla Sollew...
On the banks of the beautiful River Wah-Hoo,
Where they NEVER have troubles! At least very few.
This kid wants to live in that utopia! And so he sets out upon an extended journey that of course results in a series of perils and pitfalls and miseries against which stubbed toes and Quilligan Quails pale in comparison.
But he gets there. It takes most of the book, but he gets there. And he's given a key to the gate. But...well...
Things aren't so great right now in Solla Sollew. In fact, the gatekeeper himself was just leaving for a real Eden, you know, the city of Boola Boo Ball, on the banks of the River Woo-Wall.
I'd have no more troubles...
That's what the man said.
So I started to go.
But I didn't.
I did some quick thinking
Inside of my head.
Our narrator runs the numbers. Avoidance got him more trouble than the troubles he was avoiding. And Avoidance Rd. doesn't pass by any of the places you really want to go.
This is one of those books that makes me appreciate what a master Seuss was. Fiction is at its best when it puts a reader in the shoes of the main character. Fiction is at its most instructive when the reader can recognize the outlines of his own situation in the reading. When these things click, the reader learns what the hero learns.
Solla Sollew clicks. Big time.
If you want to impart the lesson that it's better to face up to your challenges than to avoid them, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew is the tool you're looking for.
More Dr. Seuss books.
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