Oh, the things we just learned about Dr. Seuss’ long-lost book

Prepare to get in touch with your inner child: There’s a new Dr. Seuss book being released on July 28!

In 2013, two decades after Theodor Seuss Giesel (better known as Dr. Seuss) passed away, the nearly-finished manuscript for “What Pet Should I Get?” was discovered in a box his widow, Audrey Geisel, had set aside after his death. Now, the first new Dr. Seuss book in 25 years can finally find its way onto our bookshelves at the end of the month — and we just got the scoop on what we can expect when it does.

The book starts with a pair of siblings entering a pet store to decide what pet they should get — after all, “Dad said we could get one./ Dad said he would pay.” While they start simple — “It may be a fish is the pet that we wish!” — they soon realize they have an unlimited number of choices, including some typical Seuss animals we’re not lucky enough to have in the real world.

The only problem? They only have until noon to decide, and as the young boy asks his sister, “What will we do? I like all the pets that I see. So do you.”

As a victim of indecisiveness myself, I can’t wait to see which animal they choose, and how they go about choosing it — balancing their parents’ preferences as well as their own. Their mom would like “a tall pet that fits in a space that is small,” and “Dad would be mad” if they chose a Yent that needs a tent.

And of course, there are practical considerations as well. The boy considers finding “a fast kind of thing/ who would fly round my head/ in a ring on a string!” before realizing “our house is so small. This thing on a string / would bump, bump into the wall!”

Basically, in this book Dr. Seuss has transformed the agony of making a decision while trying to satisfy everyone involved into a delightful childhood adventure. As the boy wisely exclaims, “Oh, boy! It is something to make a mind up!”

Admittedly, the book isn’t “new” in the strictest sense of the word. Dr. Seuss probably wrote “What Pet Should I Get?” sometime around 1960, and the theories for why he didn’t publish it at the time are fascinating. The New York Times writer Maria Russo theorizes that the draft inspired what we know as “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” a story which follows the same pair of siblings but leaves the pet store plot behind in favor or a more joyful parade of imaginary creatures.

If you just can’t wait until the end of the month to satisfy your curiosity, Buzzfeed has a great sneak peek inside the manuscript pages they found and how they were colorized to become the final illustrations for the book.

The publisher Penguin Random House summarize the message of the novel as having a larger message than it may first seem. “With What Pet Should I Get?, a reader may think it is simply about choosing a pet, but it’s also about how to make up your mind — and how it’s a hard thing to do sometimes,” Random House told Buzzfeed. “Certainly something we can all relate to.”

I know I can. But I also know one decision I have to make soon that won’t be hard — and that’s reading this book and reentering Dr. Seuss’s wonderful, imaginative world ASAP.

(Image via Amazon)


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