Dr. Seuss’s Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Last week, we read Stink and the Attack of the Slime Mold (see our blog about Stink Moody’s book here). After reading Stink’s book, Alex was inspired to search our bookshelves and pull out one of the great classic stories about slime—Dr. Seuss’s Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck

Bartholomew and the Oobleck tells of the time when King Derwin of the Kingdom of Didd was angry with the sky. He was bothered that only four things came down from the sky—rain, sunshine, fog, and snow. So he called his magicians and ordered them to make something fall from the sky that no one had ever seen before.

They created oobleck.

In case you haven’t seen oobleck before, oobleck is green goo that falls from the sky. When Bartholomew Cubbins, the King’s page boy, first saw it, the oobleck was coming down in the size of grape seeds. Like a bad snowstorm, it did not take long for the oobleck to start coming down in larger and larger blobs.

And oobleck is sticky. So sticky that in the Kingdom of Didd, farmers got stuck to hoes and plows, goats got stuck to ducks, and geese got stuck to cows. Soon it seemed like there was nothing anyone could do. It was up to Bartholomew Cubbins to save the kingdom.

Dr. Seuss included a delightful description of oobleck when Bartholomew was in a room with the royal trumpeter. The royal trumpeter grabbed a blob of oobleck that had landed inside his trumpet:

His fingers grabbed hold of the lump of oobleck. He could feel it squiggle around in his fist like a slippery potato dumpling made of rubber.

Of course, the trumpeter then discovered that his hand was stuck to the oobleck—with his arm inside his trumpet.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck is one of the few Dr. Seuss books that I recall ever reading that was not written in rhyme. The only parts in rhyme are spoken by the magicians, who have a small (albeit very important) role in the book. This didn’t stop either of my children from enjoying it. As soon as the oobleck started to appear, so did the giggles!

The illustrations are all done in black and white, with one notable exception. The oobleck is a vibrant green. As you continue through the book and the oobleck begins to cover the kingdom, the green takes over the illustrations. The effect is striking.

Both of my children agree that Bartholomew and the Oobleck is “very funny.” They have read it many times since slime entered our house with Stink Moody. Reading this book was a great reminder for me of Dr. Seuss’s skill as a storyteller and illustrator. I may need to bring out the rest of our Dr. Seuss collection and find out what other gems we have just sitting on the shelf. If I recall correctly, there is a story about Bartholomew Cubbins and a few of his hats—maybe we’ll look at that one of these days . . .

Bartholomew Cubbins

Have you read any great books lately?

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