From the Archives: Horton and the Kwuggerbug and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
HAVE YOU BEEN SLEEPING? YOU'VE NOT HEARD THE WORD?
LOST STORIES BY GEISEL ARE HERE TO BE HEARD!
From out of the past (well, from the dusty shelves of some library's periodical room, perhaps) come four stories published, not in one of those familiar Dr. Seuss picture books, but from the pages of Redbook magazine, stories in which we meet some old friends in their proto-personalities and in which we can see how Theodor Seuss Geisel was beginning to form his illustrative and storytelling style.
In Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories (Random House, 2014), we meet one of Dr. Seuss's most beloved characters, Horton the elephant, of Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears A Who! renown. In this early Horton tale, the guileless and virtuous Horton meets up with one of Geisel's stock characters, the con man, this time in the person of the Kwuggerbug, who knows a patsy when he sees one. The Kwuggerbug is on a mission to retrieve the fabled delight, the Beezelnut, apparently found on a single tree on a faraway unscaled mountain peak. The Kwuggerbug promises Horton half the haul if he'll provide the, er, transportation.
"IT'S A SWEET DEAL YOU CAN'T REFUSE!" TOUTS THE KWUGGERBUG.
The deal is done, and the poor trusting elephant is the chosen beast of burden for this quest, swimming the snug and dry Kwuggerbug across crocodile-crowded lakes, while Horton fears for his life. But Horton is nothing if not the soul of integrity.
"HMMM," MUSES HORTON. "WHAT HE SAYS IS QUITE TRUE.
A DEAL IS A DEAL. I MUST SEE THIS THROUGH."
Horton "swam and he swam, and he swum and he swum" until at last he climbs out of the lake and the two start their ascent to the peak of the mountain, where a deadly crevasse separates them from the fruitful Beezelnut trees branches. It's quite a stretch for poor Horton, as he extends his trunk to the limit, with the Kwuggerbug at the tip stretched toward the beezelnuts bedecking the limb. But of course the con man has a trick up his carapace that leaves poor Horton with no delicious kernels, just the other half of the nuts--the shells--up his trunk.
But as usual, Horton's faithfulness to his promise is rewarded, in a perfect little Suessian cautionary tale that foreshadows Horton's coming devotion to the egg he promises to guard for lazy Maisie.
Three other stories follow, one of the imaginative Marco from And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street fame, concocting an embellished version of his tardy walk to school in "Marco Comes Late," and that other crooked wheeler-dealer, the Grinch, in "Hoobub and the Grinch." The fourth story, "How Officer Pat Saved the Town," features a new character whose diligence to serve and protect his town conflates a gnat idly circling the head of Thomas the Cat at the corner of Mulberry Street into a chain of events that could become a national disaster.
This new collection of "lost" Geisel tales is pure Dr. Seuss, with his characteristic timeless style of illustration and his trademark versification intact even in his early career. To this new edition of tales all we can do is to join Horton in saying "SWEET!"
Joining the previous collection of previously unpublished stories by that American master, Theodor Seuss Geisel, The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (Classic Seuss) (Random House, 2011) (see review here). restored to us by Seuss scholar, Charles D. Cohen, here's hoping there is still more subterranean Seuss waiting to be resurrected.
ARE THERE MORE MASTERPIECES WE ARE YET TO BE KNOWIN'?
LET US HOPE CHARLES D. COHEN KEEPS GOIN' AND GOIN'!