Review – The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

When I opened the satchel and pulled out a sheath of cobalt blue dust jacket, slapped with the bright punch of Dr Seuss artwork, my heart took off instantly at a gallop. It galloped so hard, I had to press this hard cover book firmly to my chest to stop it busting through my ribcage.

Such is the power of Dr Seuss.

And most especially the power of some long ‘lost’ stories, complete with original artwork, begging to enter the mainstream consciousness of both longtime Seuss lovers and those who are embryonic to the Ted Geisel phenomenon. For that, Random House Books USA and HarperCollins Australia, I thank you.

The discovery of these stories is an interesting one. Located quite by accident by self-confessed Seussologist Charles Cohen, all seven stories were originally published in Redbook magazine in 1950 and 1951. Upon making his eBay discovery, Cohen quickly bought up as many original Redbook magazine copies as he could and began re-listing them on eBay, touting them as containing original ‘lost’ stories by Dr Seuss.

The magazines soon came to the attention of Cathy Goldsmith, VP Associate Publisher at Random House Books in the US, who quickly snapped up several magazine copies before exploring the option to republish the series in a collective tome.

The result is a clutch of heart-stopping Seussy goodness with seven glorious stories comprising:

The Bippolo Seed
The Rabbit, the Bear and the Zinniga-Zanniga
Gustav the Goldfish
Tadd and Todd
Steak for Supper
The Strange Shirt Spot
The Great Henry McBride

Each story is pure Seuss at his best – a collaboration of colour and candour, whimsy and wackiness, rhythm and rhyme that eternally defies everyday and leaps into exceptional. There are no surprises here. Just more heart-warming delight – made even better for the fact that they just may have forever been ‘lost’. The appreciation one feels over this fact is palpable.

From the cat and the duck and their outrageous intention for a wee little seed, to a bear and a rabbit with a penchant for pointing out eyelash flaws and a set of twins who learn how cosy it really can be to be two peas in a pod, the tales are pure rhythmic joy.

It’s interesting to note that the story Gustav the Goldfish later became A Fish Out of Water by Seuss’s wife Helen Palmer (illustrated by PD Eastman) – and it’s such a thrill to see the original illustrations, featuring Seuss’s iconic flair.

The only question I have about The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories is why each tale wasn’t made into its own individual book. How glorious it would have been to add seven new tomes to our beloved collection … but I can only presume the scant illustrations made individual books an impossibility, without adding to and thereby corrupting the purity of this beautiful original work.

Whether it’s seven whole tales or one book of seven,
No matter its form, I’m in Seussy heaven.

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories is published by HarperCollins Australia. You can see the trailer on how the stories were discovered here.

 

Published by

Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an author of children's books and adult non-fiction. Recent books include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, and Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline. She's also an editor, publisher and founder of Kids Book Review.