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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

New Fuse 8 n’ Kate Episode: If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss

IfIRanZooAs I mentioned yesterday, today’s episode is in honor of Banned Books Week. And let me tell you, it was hard to find an appropriate picture book without covering already well trod ground. In retrospect we should have held off on Heather Has Two Mommies until now and not jumped the gun back in the summer. Ah well. Podcast and learn. Today’s episode is controversial in an entirely new way. I’d go so far as to say that it’s the most offensive Dr. Seuss picture book, though it’s hardly a household name. Don’t get it confused with If I Ran the Circus, by the way. That book is a delight. You can also download the entire episode on Soundcloud here and, of course, you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Show Notes:

  • Nope. It’s not Shark Week this week. Not even close.
  • Here is ALA’s list of Frequently Challenged Books for 2016. Like I say, I found nuthin’. So I went to 2015 here.
  • Son, I don't know much about animals. But I'm pretty sure you're about one step from becoming Pierre Part Deux, if you catch my meaning.

    Son, I don’t know much about animals. But I’m pretty sure you’re about one step from becoming Pierre Part Deux, if you catch my meaning.

  • IfRanZoo9

    Look at that hope in their eyes. Don’t tell them. You don’t want to be the one to break it to them.

  • IfRanZoo7

    Example A: Gootch

  • IfRanZoo6

    Aim high, Gerald.

  • IfRanZoo5

    I had to check it. It appears that this book came out in 1950 and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas wasn’t published until 1957. So this really is a kind of proto-Grinch.

  • IfRanZoo4

    I looked it up. It’s a bandolier. Can you blame him, considering the era?

  • IfRanZoo3
  • IfRanZoo2
  • IfRanZoo1
  • IfIRanZoo1
  • For further information on the implications behind the most famous of the Seuss books, please see Was the Cat in the Hat Black? by Phil Nel. I highly recommend this 45-minute illustrated lecture on the topic.
  • An interesting recent article from the New York Times on Dr. Seuss, his caricatures of WWII, and how the Dr. Seuss Museum prefers not to talk about any of that (at this time).
  • An SLJ article on Read Across America’s recent decision to not highlight Seuss but diverse books instead.
  • Here is how the official challenge to If I Ran the Zoo reads:

“Geisel, Theodor Seuss
If I Ran the Zoo

Challenged, but retained at the
Vancouver, Canada, Public Library
(2014) despite a line in the poem about
helpers who “all wear their eyes at a
slant,” accompanied by illustrations that
are racial stereotypes of Asians. The
book is often credited with the first
printed modern English use of the word
“nerd” in a sentence. The library will no
longer read it at storytime or promote
it other than as resource material in a
study of how the portrayal of other
cultures has changed over time.”
  • I actually had to make sure this was a Caldecott Honor. It was. In 1951. It lost to The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous so thank goodness for small favors.
  • Universal Studio’s If I Ran the Zoo portion of Seuss Landing:

  • Video of the woman reading this book. And I was wrong. She totally reads the worst part.

  • The Moose Called Thidwick problem can be read more fully here.
  • Proof that “Eye of the Tiger” is in Rocky 3. Doggone it. Thanks, James.

  • Schweddy Balls

  • Here’s the link to the Patti LuPone interview. It is WELL worth your time!
  • This is my favorite thing of ALL TIME!!!  It’s actually 13 seconds of delight, not 15. 15 would be too long.


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.