I had never heard - or at least had no memory - of 'The Lorax' before I saw the posters for the upcoming film adaptation. He was a strange orange sight I didn't understand. Now I've read his story and I intend to do so again and again.
This is a story of financial gain at the cost of the environment. It is a tale of greed and redemption. It shows us the benefits of standing up for others and not only thinking of ourselves. It is as relevant now as it was when it was first published.
The book does not begin as loud and colourful as many of Seuss' other stories. Instead, it is grey and dreary, pulling the reader in close with the eerie quiet of the scenery. The first words of the story are like a breath, pulled from the lips of the reader, lost in an echo of the landscape.
In the beginning, the Lorax is an unanswered question. Who is he? Why did he disappear? There is only one person who can answer that question - the Once-ler - and we never see what he looks like. Instead we are told the story in a way which feels right: through a Whisper-ma-Phone.
Seuss uses such fresh imagery to contrast the gloom at the beginning of the book, showing how drastically everything has changed from what it once was. More importantly, he writes of "back in the days" in such a way that you can smell, hear and feel the wonders that you see on the page.
The story pits two figures against each other: the Lorax and the Once-ler. The Once-ler is enamored by the Truffula Trees. He only means to make something with the materials available to him but it isn't long before he is carried away with greed and is putting the needs of his business before all other things. The Lorax is the voice of reason against all of this. He speaks "for the trees, for the trees have no tongues" and takes care of the other animals in the area.
This book really touches on the subject of human rights. The Once-ler has found an inventive opportunity and is taking advantage of it. He is producing a product which people are buying. A Thneed is seemingly ludicrous but his sales are skyrocketing. It shows people's attachment to materialism and how we are willing to part with our money and put materialistic values above environmental ones if we can be persuaded that we need something.
In the words of the Once-ler, "A Thneed's a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!" However, it isn't something that benefits the Truffula Trees or any of the other creatures around. Their opinions and needs go unnoticed, except by the Lorax. He speaks for those who can't voice their own agonies.
The Once-ler is a creature of his own making. He shows us that we have to live with the consequences we set out for ourselves. None of us are innocent. Books are made by cutting down trees* and we benefit from them so much more than a Thneed but that doesn't mean that there aren't consequences to cutting them down.
The Lorax is a figure that everyone should look to emulate. What we can't do is wait and hope he will come back. We have to summon him by finding the Lorax in ourselves. We must do it before it is too late and well all end up as Once-lers.
'The Lorax' is a book which everyone should read. It is a story with a message that all people need.
In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Random House and is used solely as an aide to the review.