Okay, you ready for this? Fox in Socks was both written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss. Surprise!
All right, you probably already knew that, seeing as Dr. Seuss is perhaps most famous and praised children's author in the English language. Just look at the list of his well-known books we have at Shmoop. And yes, you can probably spot a Dr. Seuss drawing from a mile and three-sevenths away. But have you ever wanted to stop and really consider Dr. Seuss and his fantastic illustrations? We hope so, because we'd love to do the same.
Art-wise, Fox in Socks shares a lot with Seuss's other Beginner Books. Ink is used to draw and color in the characters. Black ink gives them their outline, and one or two colors fill them in. The backgrounds are usually very minimalist, consisting of a small grassy knoll or a bush. Occasionally, Seuss will simply draw a line or two, give both parts a primary color fill-in and, presto, instant background. Lazy? Not so much. Economical? That's more like it.
The book also illustrates other famous Seuss stylistics. Many of the characters are furry or wear fluffy clothing, giving them a sketchy but super-cuddly look. Popular belief says that Seuss never drew a straight line. While it's not technically true, they are very few and very far between. Everything from the clocks to Knox's box looks like it belongs on Lombard Street. Finally, Seuss was very fond of motion lines and used them to convey both emotion and animation within the static image. You'll notice both popping up from time to time around Fox's rhymes.
Tongue twisters are the potato chips of words; you put them in your mouth because they taste good but you don't really consider how empty they are. Hmmm, perhaps that analogy needs a little explanation.
When you talk about the "wood a woodchuck could chuck," you're saying the words because they are fun to say (read: they're tasty). But have you ever stopped to think about how weird the actual thought conjured by these words is? Have you ever considered what such a scene would look like? Could you even pick out a woodchuck from a rodent line-up? In short, the words are said, but they resonate as empty for the speaker and listener.
With Fox in Socks, Seuss changes all that with his illustrations. He gives us those insane tongue twisters that we all love to say, but each one is accompanied with a picture showing just how insane those words actually are. We don't just say a rose is being sewed on a nose or a goo-goose is chewing blue goo; we see it.
The illustrations help pull us from our imaginative safe zone where we generally skip over the stuff we can't instantly bring to mind. On the other hand, the illustrations also prevent us from imagining what a goo-goose would look like for ourselves. Once you've seen the goo-goose illustrated, you can't unsee it. In this way, the illustrations become a double-edged sword: at once fueling our imaginations and also limiting them.
Seuss went with a cartoony style for Fox in Socks not because it was a children's book—not just because it was a children's book at any rate. The cartoony art style serves to heighten the fun of the tongue twisters.
Tongue twisters are the Looney Tunes of words. They're hyperactive, fun, and just a blast to listen to. Seuss's cartoon style perfectly embodies this nature of the tongue twister by being all those things. The curvy look of the characters is fun; the use of motion lines and odd movements give the images a sense of hyperactive motion; and it's awesome to see all these characters interact with each other in the weird ways dictated by the tongue twisting words.
And who doesn't like a good cartoon?