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Dr. Seuss has another book, and it's a classic, with wacky invented words, a swift pace, rhythmic verse, lively illustrations of long-necked creatures and odd-ball teachers, and a compelling subject - school. How can that be? The much-beloved Dr. Seuss is now deceased. Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! explains it all.
Janet Schulman, editor and friend of Dr. Seuss, collected an unfinished manuscript of the famed writer/illustrator consisting of 14 pages of verse and illustrations shortly after his death in 1991. Though the manuscript was clear in its message, the text needed direction and completion. Illustrator Lane Smith, of Stinky Cheese Man fame, and poet Jack Prelutsky were chosen for the job. Their collaborative product complements the great talent of all three men and creates a Dr. Seuss book that both shares and honors his creative genius. The story of the making of the book, along with the original drawings and verse, is an added treat for any Dr. Seuss fan.
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! is told in verse by a young boy who loves school. He says, "I think we're learning lots of things/Not taught at other schools/Our teachers are remarkable/They make up their own rules."
His teacher, Miss Bonkers, is "as bouncy as a flea/I'm not certain what she teaches/But I'm glad she teaches me." Diffendoofer School is a happy place, full of energetic teachers and eager students, all joyfully working in unorthodox ways on the next unlikely assignment. The only sourpuss in the building is the principal, Mr. Lowe, who announces the message he fears most - standardized testing for the entire school. Failure will mean that the Diffendoofer School will close and all students will go to the miserable Flobbertown, where gray monotony abounds. Miss Bonkers assures the students that all will go well, and it does, for "we've taught you how to think." When the test results confirm her belief, Diffendoofer Day is declared by Mr. Lowe, and the children celebrate with, you guessed it, a pizza party!
Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, and Lane Smith have jointly and happily reminded us all of the joy of learning and the joy of teaching. The illustrations cleverly support the text with great humor and a bit of nostalgia, for they are a combination of oil painting and collage that include many familiar Dr. Seuss characters. Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! indeed. Hooray for Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, and Lane Smith, and for every favorite teacher who taught you how to think!
Reviewed by Kathy Bennett.