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Title & Author: I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
Genre: Children’s Books (3+)
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Pride and over-confidence may take many forms. Dr. Seuss deals with them humorously in three very funny, off-beat stories about a 30-tiger challenge, the folly of the cats of Katzen-Stein and the terrible consequences of thunking a Glunk. Ages 3+
Confession time: I love Dr. Seuss! He remains one of my favorite authors to this day. “But he write children’s books and you’re an adult,” people might say. [Certainly the kids in my sixth grade class scoffed when I checked Seuss books out of the library, like I was some kind of baby for still liking them.]
I will go on record as saying that you are allowed to like whatever books appeal to you. Just because I don’t like them too doesn’t make them “bad”. Just because they’re for a different target audience than you doesn’t make them “bad”. The only thing that matters is that you like them and get enjoyment from them.
*Steps down off pedestal.*
Back to the topic at hand. As a child, one of the books I remember falling in love with early on was I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss. For some reason I feel like my dad bought this for me on some random, unexpected occasion but I was young so who knows. I equate this book with my father, though I’m sure both of my parents read it to me many, many times.
Before I get too far into this I’d like to clarify that the title uses the word “lick” in the “defeat” sense, not in the “run my tongue over and taste” sense. Nobody is being inappropriate with the tigers – no tigers were harmed in the making of the book. (Or so I imagine.)
As an adult, the things I love about Seuss are mostly the same as what I loved about his works as a child – just magnified. I love that he found ridiculous rhymes to string together and that he often made up words. I love that his books are fun, youthful and imaginative – but as an adult, I can also see the higher-level themes they contain or issues at which they poke fun. I love his artistic openness, the beauty of the not-quite-real-life worlds he created.
What I enjoy about ICL30TT are the variety of stories contained therein, though they all center around the theme of pride. The title story is about the Cat in the Hat’s son feeling invincible…until he meets the tigers he has bragged he could easily defeat. One by one he gives excuses as to why they aren’t worthy adversaries for him, disqualifying them individually. At the end, he has ruled out all but one of the tigers – and then runs off for lunch!
King Looie Katz is a story of a King Looie Katz, the Cat in the Hat’s great great great great grandpa. King Looie is so proud of his tail that he decides he needs someone to hold it for him so that it won’t drag on the ground as he walks. Then his tail carrier needs his own tail carrier, and on and on it goes. The last cat left in line – Zooie – has no one to hold his tail as he walks, which he feels is quite unjust. He gets so fed up he begins a procession of cats slamming down the tail they’ve been holding. The cats then hold their own tails as they walk around. It’s ultimately about self-reliance and the power in taking a stand for your beliefs/bucking trends in hierarchical society.
Finally, The Glunk That Got Thunk is a story of the Cat in the Hat’s daughter. She uses her imagination to dream up a lot of cute, pretty things but she wants to try to thinking up something bigger to see if it’s more fun. She ultimately creates The Glunk who is a terrible creature. He makes long distance phone calls to his mother on the Cat in the Hat’s dime and is generally just an annoyance. “Sister” (the Cat’s son is the narrator here) can’t unthunk this creature and finally has to get help from her brother to make him go away.
The Glunk is my least favorite story of the three. I’ve read reviews from others calling the story sexist – “Sister” doesn’t think big thoughts after this incident, just the small, cut thoughts she can control. While I get that idea, it definitely didn’t have an impact on what I think or what I thought my limits were as a girl. I guess I viewed it more as a tale of not dwelling on the bad thoughts. And none of the main characters in the stories is painted in a great light so it’s not like “Sister” is the only one who runs into trouble.
All in all, I think this is a good book by Seuss. It’s not the best example of his work, I’m sure, but it’s definitely a favorite for me.