The tone in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is quite straightforward, as far as Seussian tales go. The narrator is clearly on a mission to give us the narrative nuggets we so desire. It's a delightful and heart-warming tale, yes, but the meat of the story is more important than diving too deeply into Seuss's usual nonsensical whimsy and wordplay.
That's not to say that the story isn't fun. No, not at all! Though the subject matter may be a bit dark (it's not very nice to sneak into people's homes and steal all their things), Seuss manages to keep it lighthearted rather than terrifying.
Then he stuffed all the food up the chimney with glee.
"And NOW!" grinned the Grinch, "I will stuff up the tree!" (98-99)
In this moment, the Grinch's actions are more absurd than threatening. For Saint Nick's sake, he's trying to shove everything up the chimney (including a tree!) instead of just sneaking it out the window or door. How silly is that?
As is often the case with Seuss, there's rhyming galore to keep the story bumping along, and the Grinch's exploits, as mean spirited as they are, seem to be portrayed more as funny or entertaining than sad.
There are even moments of true comic relief, such as when Cindy-Lou Who appears and the Grinch has to quickly come up with a feasible excuse for why he's stuffing their tree up the chimney.
The Grinch had been caught by the tiny Who daughter
Who'd got out of bed for a cup of cold water.
She stared at the Grinch and said, "Santy Claus, why,
"Why are you taking our Christmas tree? WHY?" (104-107)
One can only imagine the big mean Grinch momentarily floored by a two-year-old demanding answers to her questions immediately. The portrayal of the characters is silly and outlandish enough so that the reader can enjoy the story without getting bogged down by the Grinch's less savory qualities.