Speaking for the Trees

The Lorax is a “children’s book” written by Dr. Seuss that was first published in 1971.

It’s a fable that chronicles the plight of the environment. The Lorax character speaks for the trees and for the environment and battles the greedy Once-ler. (Seuss chose to never show the Once-ler’s face in any of the illustrations.)

A boy comes to town to visit the Once-ler and learn about the Lorax. He discovers that when the Once-ler first arrived there had been a forest of Truffula Trees. They were beautifully colorful woolly trees that were spread throughout the area. They were also the habitat of a number of fantastical creatures.

I took the book down this weekend from the shelf of books I read to my sons when I was writing something for my environmental blog about the wildlife in a leaf pile.

It probably wouldn’t surprise you that this gentle “children’s”  book about our stewardship of the planet has often been seen as controversial. It’s probably Seuss’ most controversial book.

The most common claim against the book is that it is unfair to the logging industry.  A book in answer to it was published called The Truax which took a a logging-friendly perspective. Tree-hugger that I am, I do recognize that there can be responsible harvesting of planned forests through re-seeding etc. And we do need lumber. The Truax was written by a member of a family-owned hardwood flooring factory and published by the National Wood Flooring Manufacturers’ Association. No one was pretending that it wasn’t biased in its intent.

I would still recommend making yourself and young people you know aware of the Lorax’s story. It can be a good conversation starter. The teacher in me also thinks that taking a look at the Truax’s story is a good thing. (It’s actually available free online as a pdf document, so there’s no reason for not checking it out.)

Side note: I also see online that a 3-D film based on The Lorax is targeted for a March 2, 2012 release, which falls on the birthday of Dr. Seuss, who died in 1991. The cast includes Danny DeVito as the Lorax, Zac Efron as Ted, Ed Helms as the Once-ler and Betty White as Ted’s grandmother.

The Lorax (Classic Seuss)

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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