The Books

Yertle the Turtle

by Dr. Seuss

One Potato Review

Even a two-year-old immediately recognizes Yertle as the surpassing megalomaniac that he is, and probably doesn’t need all of the turtles beneath him to add up to five thousand six hundred and seven before realizing the old Turtle King is not going to remain one for long. It is our shared, unbalanced and indivisible outrage at Yertle’s soaring entitlement that continues to make this worthwhile, even when we are at an age when we think we’ve outgrown such trifling reductions. Okay, and Seuss’s rhyming: even sixty years later everything else still sounds like sleepy academic exercises by comparison. Try daydreaming through this:

“All mine!” Yertle cried. “Oh, the things I now rule!
I’m king of a cow! I’m king of a mule!
I’m king of a house! And what’s more, beyond that,
I’m king of a blueberry bush and a cat!”

The book is full of righteous exuberance that way, like a marching band playing in the background, and also includes the story of Gertrude McFuzz, an erstwhile wallflower who cannot decide when to stop adding to her plumage, and a bear and a cat whose gloating one-upmanship finally comes back to embarrass them through the lowliest of mediators.

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