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Fox in Socks

Fox in Socks


by Dr. Seuss

Fox in Socks Writing Style

The Trouble with Trochees

The trouble with trochees is that they keep multiplying. Or is that tribbles?

Anyway, a book like Fox in Socks is all about reading it aloud. You can't just think the words with this one; you have to taste them. Unfortunately, that means talking about poetic meter. Boo! Fortunately, since this is Dr. Seuss, we get to have the best talk about poetic meter ever. Yay!

Poetic Primer

Fox in Socks is mostly written in trochaic dimeter. We know what you're thinking: "It's all Greek to me." There's two reasons for that. First, it's because English teachers just love to use complex words to describe simple concepts. It's called job security. And second, it's because the word trochee comes from the Greek trokhaios meaning "a running foot".

But the concept is actually quite simple. A trochee is a single unit of poetic meter also known as a foot—hence the Greek. It consists of one stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one. When English teachers write this out, it looks like "¯ ˘," but all that means is that it sounds like "DAH-dum." Dimeter means there are two feet per line. Here's an example from Fox in Socks:

Luke Luck // likes lakes.
Luke's duck // likes lakes. (38.1-2)

The stressed syllables are in bold, and we've separated the feet for your convenience. Pretty easy, isn't it?

Wait! Something's Wrong!

That's right. We almost forgot. You might have noticed a few exceptions to the rule, like this one:

Bim and Ben lead
bands with brooms.
Ben's band bangs
and Bim's band booms. (35.1-4)

We seem to be missing an unstressed syllable on the second and third lines. That's because writers often chose to remove the final unstressed syllable from a line. It gives the stressed syllable at the end more pizzazz, power, and punch. Just read those lines aloud and notice how much oomph you give the bangs and booms thanks to that missing syllable.

Then there are lines like these:

Pig band! Boom band!
Big band! Broom band! (36.1-2)

You can read these feet in trochee, but you could also read them as iambs, putting the stress on the repetition of band. You could even read them as spondees, stressing both words for extra emphasis.

The moral of this story? Breaking down poetic meter can be a fun and rewarding exercise, but it can also be more of an art than a science. When reading aloud, worry not about poetic meter. Just have fun and read this bad boy for all it's worth.

Ties You Up in Knots

Now, onto the fun stuff. Unless you enjoy poetic meter—in which case consider this bonus fun stuff.

This book is loaded with tongue twisters, so it's designed to be read aloud. Best of all, Seuss's poetry will match any way you wish to read it aloud. Want to read it aloud with a fast, furious, and loud voice? Go right ahead. Want to have at it in a way that's slow and methodical? Feel free. How about mixing it up and reading Fox's parts fast while going slow for Knox? Absolutely.

Fox in Socks's tongue twisters are challenging and fun regardless of how you decide to read them aloud. Just make sure you read them out loud because—let's face it—reading a tongue twister in your head is kind of cheating. Doing so takes all the challenge out of it. And Fox in Socks's tongue twisters should be equal parts fun and challenging.

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