“Your Mountain is Waiting.” – Day 20

“Your mountain is waiting. So…get one your way!”

Don’t be fooled by the childlike exterior. This book packs an intellectual punch!

The genius of Dr. Seuss is his ability to camouflage life lessons within the pages of a children’s book. And what better audience to engage than young, impressionable minds filled with hope, promise, and guts?

This book encapsulates the human experience, giving readers a bird’s-eye view of what life so often becomes. Dr. Seuss highlights the ups and downs, the highs and lows. Yet, the real takeaway is to recognize our individual potential to conquer those downs and lows. Our ability to not get fooled by the ups and highs, letting all our expectations depend on those moments.

We need to believe in our own ability to succeed at living by being brave, conquering both our own fears and foreign ones thrust upon us.

So the next time you feel “mixed up,” take comfort in knowing “Life’s a Great Balancing Act.”  We can all move our proverbial mountains!

Word Count: 169

Great Sights at Great Heights – Day 19

As a lover of poetry, I am a little old-fashioned in my partiality for poetic rhyme. I know many Epic poems are written in free verse and this form certainly has its place. For my part, however, I love a thought-provoking, playful rhyme.

Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! definitely delivers rhyme in abundance. In 44 pages he never stops his consistent rhyming rhythm (and yes I counted the pages because he left out page numbers). The beauty of rhyme is that it singles out specific words into groups to further enforce the idea of the entire paragraph.

A great example of this is on page 12: “You’ll be on your way up! / You’ll be seeing great sights! / You’ll join the high fliers / who soar to high heights.” The words grouped together here are “sights,” and “heights.” By refusing to cave under the pressure of a difficult decision (as is seen on the previous “streets” page) one is able to reach great “heights” and see better “sights.” If we persevere we can embrace all the possibilities which exist beyond our fear.

The waiting scene is possibly the most poignant page—enhanced by rhyme. The grouping of words is as follows: “train to go,” “plane to go,” “rain to go,” “snow to snow,” “Yes or No,” “hair to grow,” and “fish to bite,” “fly a kite,” “Friday night,” and “Uncle Jake,” “Better Break,” and lastly “pair of pants,” “Another Chance.”

By piling rhyme upon rhyme Dr. Seuss is sharing a bit of wisdom with his young readers. Sometimes fear can get us into a rut of just waiting for something to happen for us. The reasons people choose to give up and wait their lives away are varied and multiplicitous. Dr. Seuss is urging us not to get stuck in the “waiting place.”

No! Instead, let’s spite those pesky odds and keep living life to the fullest!

Word Count: 314

A Picture is Worth at Least 100 Words – Day 18

There is much that could be said about the various illustrations Dr. Seuss creates for his imaginary world in Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, but I’m going to focus on one character in particular: the little boy in the yellow jumpsuit.

This unnamed young man is first pictured on the cover trying to balance on a tower of colorful disks. He has a wary expression on his face as he uses his arms to keep himself steady. Next, we see him walking through a vast, wide-open field with no marked roads and no guide in sight.

These opening images communicate the message Dr. Seuss gives in the book itself: life is full of possibilities and requires balance.

In scenes filled with bright, cheery colors the young boy has a look of serenity and excitement. When threatening monster-like creatures first surface, he lifts his hand up against them, and points his nose in the air. With confidence he avoids any streets he doesn’t wish to go down.

When stunned by the “downs” in life, he has wide eyes and a cautious gait. In the end, however, he faces his problems courageously and quite literally moves mountains.

By choosing not to name this little boy, each reader can see his or her inner child reflected in Dr. Seuss’ illustrations. With the use of his brains, this character accomplishes great feats. Such conviction for living life is admirable and desirable. Who wouldn’t want to be as brave as the little boy in the yellow jumpsuit?

Word Count: 252

Color Me Impressed – Day 17

There are at least 4 main components which, when combined, make Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! a masterpiece: color, illustrations, rhyme, and depth of content.

One of the first things I notice when looking at the book is color—and lots of it. Dr. Seuss’ (a.k.a Theodor Seuss Geisel’s) use of vibrant colors, both inside the book and out, is an immediate attention grabber. More than this, however, the famous Doctor uses colors to mirror the mood of his written text, bringing his words to life on an almost subconscious level.

Pungent yellows, pinks, blues, greens, and purples convey the idea of freedom and happiness. Indeed, some color sequences of this sort communicate absolute elation and exhilaration!

The conflict within the narrative results in a subsequent color shift visually. Dr. Seuss specifically employs muted blues, purples, yellows, pinks, and grays, large doses of black, and startling (rather than complementary) combinations of orange and pink.

Purely based on color, Dr. Seuss has already exceeded my expectations. Without a doubt I believe his use of color is one of the key features of his books, and a main attraction for so many of the children who read them.

Word Count: 197 (I can’t put a limit on these analyses!)

Early Morning Inspiration – Day 16

Lately I’ve been trying to determine what I want to write about, both on this blog and in general. Also, I’ve wondered what genre of editing I would find most enjoyable.

I had the inkling early this morning, as my conscious mind was just waking up, that I want to write children’s books. Now, I share this cautiously because of my tendency to switch between ideas in a most capricious manner.

As I follow my cognitive path of exploration, however, I will be reading and analyzing famous children’s stories. Tomorrow I begin with Dr. Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go!.

Word Count: 100

A Little Girl Woke Up Wiser – Day 15

Once upon a time there lived a young girl who dreamt of never ending joy and happiness, surrounded by others as happy as she. She came into the world filled with hope, a sense of purpose, longing for significance, and time for deep thought. She was starry-eyed and tender-hearted.

Unlike the dream in her head, this little girl found that life was not living up to its potential—or perhaps she wasn’t—and this made her angry.

But, she woke up, then grew up, rediscovered her hope, released her anger, and decided to embrace her own life filled with promise.

Word Count: 100

In Lieu of the Melodrama – Day 14

Whenever I get sick I become fatalistic: “Oh the agony! Has anyone ever suffered as greatly as this? I’ll never make it.”

Today, in lieu of this melodramatic scene, I’m choosing escape by word picture. The picture is straight ahead, outside my window—horizontal blinds raised, sheer white curtain twisted and pulled aside.

The sun is shining from the Southeast, reflecting its majestic rays off everything it touches. A green hedge separating my yard from the neighbors’ is now laced in white beaming light. Just above the hedge a metal sculpture shaped as a woman is waving at me, inviting me out into the crisp Florida winter air.

Well perhaps I’ll join her.

Word Count: 113 (Yes, I indulged myself.)

While Eating Lunch by the River – Days 12 & 13

While eating lunch by the river, drinking in the crisp breeze, feeling the heat of the sun on my right shoulder, a Seagull landed beside me. He jerked his head left, then right using both eyes to confirm my position. He glanced at the coquina rock on the floor to the right of my bench, and I followed his gaze curiously. Vision revealed a smashed, foamy, Cheeto-like puff.  I, human predator, was an obstacle between him and “afternoon snack”.

Mr. Seagull peered at me suspiciously: “Can I trust you?”

I looked away, hoping he’d divine: “I come in peace.”

He hopped closer to the regurgitated treat: Hop! Hop!

I looked right, unable to control myself.

He hopped backward: Hop!

I looked left.

He hopped closer: Hop!

I scratched my knee.

He flew away.

Minutes later he returned, bringing a friend in tow.  His friend had speed and bravery—a true scavenger! While Mr. Seagull sat, cautiously eyeing me as before Andrei flew in deftly, consuming the snack Mr. Seagull so craved.

As Andrei soared away Mr. Seagull stared me straight in the eye: pitiful.

He turned his head toward the river, letting out a weak cry.  Then he was gone.

Word Count: 200

“Could I revive within me…” – Day 11

“…A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.”

This ultimate stanza concludes Romantic poet S. T. Coleridge’s hauntingly beautiful poem, Kubla Khan.

With vivid diction Coleridge ironically longs for inspiration from the muses, figuratively pictured by the “Abyssinian maid” playing “her dulcimer” (39,40). He laments his supposed writer’s block with the words “Could I revive within me / Her symphony” (43). If he composed with the same beauty by which the maid plays, those who saw him would be amazed by his “flashing eyes, [and] floating hair” (50), recognizing he “drank the milk of paradise” (54).

Coleridge, I wish I wrote like you when plagued by writer’s block!

Word Count: 100

Making English Grammar Great Again-Days 9,10

Due to a late Sunday night of relaxation and minor intoxication, yesterday marks the first day I didn’t stick to my writing challenge. I have assuaged my guilt with a self-inflicted penance of writing two-hundred words today instead of my usual hundred.

I’ve been thinking extensively about English grammar over the last week or so, wondering why there are few, if any, refresher courses offered in school after the initial elementary education. Even within my English degree college curriculum there are no courses offered to directly enhance grammar skills.

Rather than fighting for educational reform (although I am definitely in favor of said reform) I am taking my grammar questions into my own hands. I have selected two highly recommended books for improving grammar and writing style/accuracy: The Elements of Style by William Strunk & E.B. White, and Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty. The Elements of Style is a classic, while Grammar Girl’s is a more modern resource.

I just received Fogarty’s guide in the mail today and I can’t wait to tear into it! Once I digest its contents I’ll be sure to compile a complete review—hopefully with elevated grammatical accuracy.

Word Count: 200