Theodor Geisel, known by his pseudonym Dr. Seuss, is perhaps the greatest children’s author to ever live. An avid cartoonist and writer, Seuss worked on over sixty books before his death, known for their use of rhyme, made-up words and stunning illustrations. Their ease of understanding has made them one of the best beginner’s books for children even to this day.
Before his death in 1991, Seuss worked with animators and television companies to adapt his books into television specials. For those released during his lifetime, Seuss often wrote the script and lyrics for new songs. Even after his death, his widow allowed major film studios to adapt his work to live action and animation, with mixed results.
Horton Hears A Who (2008)
In the jungle of Nool, Horton the elephant hears the call of a small speck of dust. Capturing him on a cloverleaf, he learns that within the grain lies a civilization of people called Whos, which Horton swears to protect. Unfortunately, this attracts the attention of a sour kangaroo, who wants to destroy the point because Horton is shaking up the status quo.
Compared to other theatrical films based on Seuss’s work, it’s easy to see why Horton hears a who is ranked the highest. BlueSky Studios’ animation is vibrant and stylistic, helping to bring Seuss’ drawing to 3D while retaining the spirit of the original. He also has a strong voice, the highlights being Jim Carryand Steve Carellplay well with each other.
The Hoober-Bloob Highway (1975)
This original story written by Seuss for television soars above the skies to the home of Hoober-Bloob the Dispatcher. Her job is to help prepare babies for life on earth before sending them down the titular highway to be born. It does this by giving children an in-depth look at what life on earth can be accompanied by fun musical segments.
Although not often recognized as an original story, Hoober–Bloob Highway was well received in its day and nearly won a Primetime Emmy. It’s easy to see why: the short film is a lot of fun, offering a creative experience accompanied by fun songs, and the voice of Bob Holt like Hoober-Bloob. It also includes the tweetle beetle rhyme from Seuss’s book, Fox in socks.
Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950)
Young Gerald McCloy is a strange little boy. Instead of speaking in words, he communicates via sound effects, his most frequent being the boing-boing of a bouncing ball. Growing up, he finds it difficult to educate himself or make friends when no one can understand what he is saying.
Gerald McBoing-Boing was the first theatrical cartoon released by Unite Productions of America, which created the Mr. Magoo shorts. It proved popular for its simplistic yet expressive animation style and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. UPA would release a few more Gerald shorts and most recently an animated series that aired on Cartoon Network from 2005-2007.
Horton Hatches the Egg (1942)
Before Horton the Elephant spoke to Whos, he was tricked by a bird named Mayzie into watching her egg while she was on a long vacation. Though he mocks his friends and is forced to endure boredom and extreme weather, Horton doesn’t waver or break his word. Eventually he is found by three hunters, who bring him home as a circus attraction, which is seen by Mayzie.
Horton hatches the egg was led by Bob Calmpet, known for his early and crazy Loony Toons cartoons. He brings the same energy to Horton and creates very surreal character designs and visuals, even for a Dr. Seuss cartoon. However, Seuss had little input into this short, which features more twists and extra scenes than his other adaptations.
The Cat in the Hat (1971)
On a rainy day and with nothing to do, a brother and sister are shocked when a talking cat in a red and white hat walks into their house. Despite the family fish’s objection, the children allow the cat to entertain them with drama until he makes a mess. However, he refuses to leave until he finds his family three-handled gredunza covered in moss.
Although many changes have been made to extend the story, The cat in the hat remains a fun and energetic experience. It has a lot of upbeat and catchy songs, and the vocals of the parody singer Allan Sherman, and veteran Hannah-Barbarra, Daws Butler, really brings the cat and the fish to life. It was also Seuss’ last short that the legendary Loony Toons director,chuck joneswork.
Horton Hears a Who (1970)
Before BlueSky Studios made its adaptation of Horton, Chuck Jones brought the elephant and Whoville to life. Thanks to its shorter runtime, the 1970 Horton hears a who stays closer to the tone and pace of the book and makes few changes. The biggest change would be to make Horton’s contact a scientist rather than the mayor.
Although not as polished as the 2008 film, the original Horton hears a who is very charming, thanks in large part to the animation of Chuck Jones. The characters are brought to life by a talented cast, including June Foray, Hans Conried Jr. and Jones himself. Some of Seuss’ catchiest songs also come from this short, like “The Wickersam Brothers,” sung by the Mellowmen, who lent their voices to many Disney musicals in the 1950s and 60s.
The Butter Battle Book (1989)
adult animator Ralph Bakchi brings his talents to animate Seuss’ Cold War parody book. Released ironically the same year as the fall of the Berlin Wall, The Butter Battle Book tells the story of the Yooks and the Zooks, who fight to decide whether to eat toast butter side up or down. This conflict leads to an arms race that threatens the life of everyone on both sides of its wall.
Seuss called this adaptation the most faithful to his books. The story, which is adapted from one of Seus’ best written stories, adds very little except for the usual song sequences and a few visual jokes. It seems that when you’re telling a story of mutual destruction, you don’t have much to do except show the ridiculousness of both sides.
Dr. Seuss on the Loose (1973)
Three separate Dr. Seuss stories are presented as an animated anthology by the Cat in the Hat in Dr. Seuss on the loose. The snitches shows how far individuals will go to be perceived as better than their peers, while The Zacks shows the dangers of refusing to negotiate. To finish, Green eggs and ham warns against judging something before you’ve given it a fair chance.
Themes of stubbornness and pride appear in all three shorts, where the characters get into trouble trying to prove themselves above others for superficial reasons. Each gets their point across with iconic visuals and Seuss’ charming dialogue. This special saw the return of many familiar voices, including Bob Holts, Hans Conried Jr and Allan Sherman in his final acting role.
The Lorax: 1972 (7.9 stars)
A young boy walks past the grickle grass to the house of the Once-ler in The Lorax. He tells the boy how he came to this land when it was green and sunny to chop down truffle trees to produce a wonderful product called thneeds. However, his actions have summoned the Lorax, who speaks for the trees, and attempts to implore the Once-ler to think about the environment.
Although the book was written to criticize the logging industry, the original Lorax special represents both sides of the debate. The Once-ler talks about the fact that halting production would put its workers out of work, and the Lorax admits it has no answer to that. Bob Holts returns as both Once-ler and Lorax, and his incredible vocal skills add weight and tragedy to both characters’ situations.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Although all the Who in Whoville love Christmas, the Grinch on top of Mount Crumpet didn’t. Whether it’s his shoes that are too tight or his little size two heart, he decides this will be the year he ends Christmas for good. So in Death of the Knight, dressed as Santa Claus, he breaks into the Who’s house and flees with their presents.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Chuck Jones has become a staple of the holiday season thanks to the talent it contains. horror actor Boris Karloffvoices the Grinch and the narrator, and his iconic voice ensures you’ll never miss a word of Seuss’ clever rhyme scheme. The song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” was sung by the voice of Tony the Tiger and leader of the Mellowmen, Thurl Ravenscroft.
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