Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories Book Poster Image
Early stories have catchy rhymes, some familiar characters.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Like all Seuss books, this one offers a joyful, fun introduction to poetry as well as a celebration of imagination with a few moral lessons thrown in. Patiently, Horton helps the demanding Kwuggerbug, but in the end fate balances the scales. Marco is imaginative yet finds that honest reality is important. Officer Pat is good-hearted and insightful in his efforts to help others. The final story, "‘The Hoobub and the Grinch," is the perfect place to start a discussion about consumerism and how we are often sold things we may not need or even want. 

Positive Messages

Poetry is fun and imagination is important. Being honest, good-hearted, and kind is essential. We can all be taken in by salesmanship if we are "Hoobubs." Buyer beware!

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dr. Seuss himself is the best role model. He plays with language, has fun with poetry, and celebrates life ... and that is exactly what his stories share with all of us. In this book, Horton also is one to be commended. He is compassionate, patient, and loyal, and he sticks to his word even when things are not working out too well for him. Marco and his teacher listen to one another, and, again, kindness, honesty, and imagination win out. The people on Mulberry Street are friendly and show a good-natured tolerance of the world around them. The value of imagination plays a role here, too. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories is a collection of four early stories by Dr. Seuss that were published in magazines but never in book form. The humorous verse, catchy rhymes, imaginative illustrations, and some of the characters are recognizable if you're a Seuss fan, but the stories are different and original. Horton is here, of course, along with the daydreaming Marco from McElligot's Pool and various characters from To Think That I Saw That on Mulberry Street. An extensive introduction, written by Charles Cohen, Seussian scholar and author of The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss, leads off the book and explains how these stories reappeared. As with all Dr. Seuss books, these stories are springboards for imaginative fun, silly wordplay, and little moral lessons. 

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What's the story?

HORTON AND THE KWUGGERBUG AND MORE LOST STORIES is a collection of four Dr. Seuss short stories that were published in Redbook magazine in the 1950s but never finalized in book form. It begins with an extensive introduction written by Seussian scholar and collector Charles D. Cohen that explains how these stories fit into the Seuss legacy, why they never appeared as books, and why we should read them now. The title story features the same compassionate Horton that Seuss fans met in Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears a Who! This time he's on a mission to help the small but demanding Kwuggerbug harvest his beezlenut tree. In the next story, the imaginative Marco from McElligot's Pool and To Think That I Saw That on Mulberry Street tries to explain why he's late to school, and then Officer Pat tries to save the good citizens of Mulberry Street from all the dangers he imagines. The final story, and the shortest, introduces an earlier version of the Grinch (later star of How the Grinch Stole Christmas), who uses all his powers of salesmanship to pull one over on the Hoobub.  

Is it any good?

These are stories by Seuss, so of course they're entertaining and imaginative! Rhymes, rhythms, illustrations, and lessons are just as good as Seuss fans would expect. Those who grew up reading The Cat in the HatGreen Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and so on will love the fact that they can reconnect to all the joy past Seuss stories brought them and, at the same time, see what a few familiar characters are up to in other, earlier adventures.

Readers new to Seuss will enjoy the fun and play of these stories and be looking for more. Cohen's informative comments make the book even more enjoyable, and complete, but might have been better placed as an afterword rather than an introduction. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way Dr. Seuss tells his stories. What kinds of rhythms do you hear? When do words rhyme? How do the illustrations add to the story? What do you think the stories would be like without the drawings? 

  • How does Dr. Seuss use humor to give us a serious lesson? Which character do you relate to? How does that character use imagination and compassion to deal with the other characters? 

  • How do this Horton, this Marco, this Officer Pat, and this Grinch compare with those characters in the books you've already read? How about Mulberry Street and the beezlenut tree? What about the drawings? Do they look different in the stories you know?

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