The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
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Treasure of lost Seuss tales a great all-ages read-aloud.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

These stories, like many Seuss wrote, offer a fun introduction to the idea of fables and other stories with lessons and messages. Each story offers a unique opportunity to explore imagination, weigh choices, and enjoy playing with language. Also, the quirky cartoon creatures will inspire some kids to draw crazy characters of their own.

Positive Messages

Like Aesop's fables, each of these Dr. Seuss stories carries a message: Being greedy leads to trouble, using your imagination can get you out of the worst of pickles, sometimes things are better off as they were, and often being honest in the first place will save you a lot of unnecessary complication. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

In the second story, the wily rabbit uses his wits to escape from the hungry bear. Most of the other characters are good-hearted but bumbling, and create some kind of mess for themselves, in which they learn lessons about making choices. Using one's imagination is always important.

Violence & Scariness

The rabbit with the small claws almost gets eaten by the big bear with big claws, and big teeth ... not really violent and all in playful Seussian cartoons.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this compilation of seven stories written by Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Ted Geisel, between 1948 and 1959 is not a collection of rehashed tales already in print. Lost, and perhaps forgotten, they are stories once published in magazines and more recently collected by Charles D. Cohen, recognized as "the world's foremost Seuss scholar." Readers will recognize seeds of later stories as well as the playful rhyming language and quirky characters we have all come to expect from a Dr. Seuss book. The colors of the illustrations have been enriched, which makes it all the more appealing to the eye.

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What's the story?

Seuss scholar Charles D. Cohen has researched and collected seven stories by Dr. Seuss that were published in magazines during the 1950s, before his other books became household classics. They include a story of a duck led to greed by a conniving cat, a rabbit who tricks a bear out of eating him, a goldfish who outgrows his bowl, a set of twins trying to find their individuality, crazy creatures in search of a steak dinner, a kid trying to clean the spot out of his shirt, and another kid with a great imagination. The stories are told in rhyming couplets, with a rhythm that is recognizably a Dr. Seuss trademark. And the illustrations are as zany and silly as you might expect. Cohen has added a wonderfully informative introduction that explains his search as well as the importance of each story, and how it fit into the development of the Dr. Seuss whom readers have grown to love.

Is it any good?

This book is not just for kids; adult readers, especially those who remember some of the stories from various magazines they may have read as kids, will enjoy the collection too. As readers may expect, the rhymes and rhythms carry the tales from one crazy moment to the next as zany characters work out whatever silly situation they find themselves in. New words are created, bizarre beasts strut about the pages, and imagination carries the day. Dr. Seuss books are always fun to read aloud, and the stories in this collection are no different.  Readers of all ages will find themselves picking it up more than once, and giving it voice even if no one else is in the room.  Finding these lost stories is, as Cohen says, like "finding a silver box containing a Bippolo Seed."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the lessons of each story: How can greed turn good luck to bad? How can a small character use ingenuity to overcome larger obstacles? How does imagination help when a situation gets out of hand? Can you think of other Dr. Seuss books that present the same kinds of lessons? How about other fables that you may have read?

  • Dr. Seuss books have a distinctive rhythm, usually with rhyming couplets. They are also sprinkled with made-up words and names.  What does that add to the stories? Do you like hearing them read aloud, or would you rather read them to yourself? What do you think of the made-up words and names? Can you think of other stories you have read that use the same techniques? What about the crazy creatures? Which are your favorites? How would these stories be different if the characters were more realistic?

  • Compare these stories to some of the other Dr. Seuss books you may have read. For example, how does The Strange Shirt Spot compare with The Cat in the Hat Comes Back? What parts are the same? Which are different? How did the Cat in the Hat character change the story?

Book details

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For kids who love all things Dr. Seuss

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