ISBN 978-0-00-730582-7. “The Lorax” by Dr Seuss is 62 pages long in large format hardback and was first published by Harper Collins in 1971. The blurb on the back says “‘I speak for the trees.’ The Lorax is the original eco-warrior and his message rings loud today. In this fable about the dangers of destroying our forests, he tries to save the trees from the wicked Once-ler’s axe.” If you are familiar with the Dr Seuss-brand of “zany” illustrations coupled with insane rhyming then you will know what you are in store for here. This is yet another classic. Suitable for children of all ages – your nipper will probably benefit from this at bedtime from the tender age of only four. The story goes like this: the place is “The Street of the Lifted Lorax”. Why was the Lorax lifted away? Only the old Once-ler can tell us – if you pay him. Once upon a time (the Once-ler tells us) the area had many tall Truffula Trees. Along came the Once-ler who cut down the trees to make a “Thneed”. As soon as he had finished the first then the Lorax appears from the stump of one of the trees. The Lorax asks what a “thneed” was? The ‘thneed’ appears to be an all-purpose material which people will use for everything from socks to pillow-cases. The Lorax laughs and says that no one ever wants a thneed. But just then someone buys one. The Once-ler ignores the Lorax and calls in all of his family to make money out of thneeds. So a factory was built to churn out the thneeds and the air is full of the sound of falling Truffula Trees.
Machines are invented to cut the trees down even quicker hence robbing the Bar-ba-loots of their homes. So the Lorax reappears and warns the Once-ler that he is destroying the fruit of the trees and the Bar-ba-lots are all starving. The Once-ler felt sad as the Bar-ba-lots all had to leave but said “business is business” and “business must grow” regardless of the starving animals. The Once-ler enterprise grew and grew.
Everything got bigger and bigger. He said “I biggered my money, which everyone needs”. The Lorax came again and complained about the air pollution. It was killing the Swomee-Swans. The water pollution was killing the Humming-Fish. So the Fish and Swans are leaving. Then the Once-ler became angry at the Lorax and yelled that ‘All you do is yap-yap and say “Bad! Bad! Bad! Bad!” Well, I have my rights sir and I’m telling you I intend to go on doing just what I do’. So things got bigger and bigger and bigger because the Once-ler believed that everyone needed a Thneed. Then, that day, the last Truffula Tree was felled. So the Thneed factory closed leaving the Once-ler alone with the Lorax. Finally the Lora leaves. His last memorial was a stone with the word “Unless” carved into it. The years passed and the Once-ler’s factory fell to the ground. But now the Once-ler understands this word: “UNLESS someone like you care a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Then the Once-ler gives the final Truffula Tree seed to the person listening to his story and tells him to go and regrow the forest. And protect it from men with axes. Then maybe the Lorax will return with all of his friends. There is not much you can do to improve on a story like that. Despite its age it seems timeless. It is an obvious tale told with all the magic that only Dr Seuss could muster. We see how easy it is to convince ourselves that what WE are doing is what everyone needs. Hence our pursuit of money is a good thing. A salutary lesson for all – young and old. Recommended.