Friday, July 29, 2016

Talk About Your Invasive Species! Daisy-Head Mayzie by Dr. Seuss

It's hard to believe such a thing could be true.
And I hope such a thing never happens to you.
But it happened, they say, to poor Mayzie McGrew.

Mayzie McGrew is the sort of girl who doesn't stand out in a crowd. With average brown hair and prim but unremarkable garb, she seems a girl who will never surprise anyone.

But on a dull school day, it happens this way:

Maysie is busy at her desk at school, working away...

When she felt a small twitch on the top of her head.
Maysie looked up, and she almost dropped dead.
Something peculiar was going on up there.
A DAISY was sprouting right out of the air.

Her classmate Einstein Van Tas and her teacher Miss Sneetchen inspect the bloom. It seems well rooted in Mayzies' cranium. Principal Gregory Grummm, (as smart as they come,) summons Mayzie's mum and assorted experts--Finch the florist and Dr. Eisenbart--to second the diagnosis. The Mayor instantly sees a political angle in the situation.

"I promise, my friends, if I am re-elected,
This daisy on Mayzie will be disconnected.

But it's too late for that! Maysie's daisy goes viral and soon she's the object of a media frenzy, in Dr. Seuss' Daisy-Head Mayzie (Classic Seuss), restored from an incomplete draft discovered in a desk drawer and several cameo roles by Mayzie in a film and in a collection of Seuss stories, also narrated by versatile Cat in the Hat.

While some of the iambic quatrains may seem a bit strained, only Theodor Seuss Geisel could come up with a character like Mayzie, an ordinary humdrum girl, whose noggin sprouts a posy, and only Dr. Seuss could shape it into a parable of public paranoia, instant celebrity, and multiplying media mania of the sort first portrayed in earlier, gentler times in Geisel's first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. With the bare bones of the story and sketches from a film and several Seussian manuscripts, the editors have cobbled together the complete story of Mayzie into an offering with the familiar look of of a Dr. Seuss book with the versatile Cat In The Hat given the role of narrator.

While Seussian purists may dicker over resurrecting stories that Geisel seemingly found initially lacking, his images and irresistible rhyme scheme are still magic, from the mystified Mayzie regarding her daisy, the rest of the familiar cast of quirky everybody's-got-an-angle characters, and especially the doughty daisy itself, Mayzie's alter ego, just doing its thing in the midst of the hubbub. As Publishers Weekly says, "One great success is the daisy itself, which conveys much human emotion through its stalk, leaves, and petals," a skill that the mighty Dr. Seuss possessed in spades.

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