Hunches in Bunches
by Dr. Seuss
Hunches in Bunches Writing Style
There are two things to consider when reading Hunches in Bunches whether it's to a child or by yourself when no one is around (hey, no shame; read it loud and proud).
The first and most obvious is tackling the poetic meter and punctuation. Yes, we know all about the horrors you faced in your high school English class, but remember: you'll have to confront these structural demons if they're ever to truly be exorcised.
The second, and perhaps less obvious, is the acting of the poem. You'll need to release you're inner-thespian if you're to truly conquer reading Hunches in Bunches aloud. And we're here to help on both accounts.
Are you worried about messing up the poetic stylistics when reading Hunches in Bunches? Lesson One: don't worry about messing up the poetic stylistics when reading Hunches in Bunches. Yes, it seems the good doctor couldn't make up his mind what type of poetry he wanted to employ with this one.
The confusion begins right away. The first stanza is a sestet (six-lined stanza) and the second a couplet (two lines), but the rhyme scheme (ABABCDEC) suggests these two lines should be read as one stanza, what we'd call an octave (eight-lined stanza). The third and fourth stanzas reverse this formula (couplet followed by sestet), but then the fifth stanza is a stand-alone quatrain. After this, the poetic structure becomes all the more irregular, with tercets (three lines) and even cinquains (five lines) making out-of-the-blue appearances.
The poetic meter doesn't help all this ga-flupptedness. We dare you to scan this one:
Then a Very Odd Hunch upset me
when he asked me loud and clear
"Do you think it might be helpful
If you went to the bathroom, dear?" (13.1-4)
And the poem continues to change as it goes. Basically what we're saying here is that you can never know what to expect from this poem when it comes to the poetic structure. Pretty appropriate given the subject material, wouldn't you agree? But this doesn't help us when it comes to reading the thing aloud. Thankfully, there is another aspect of the poem's structure we can focus on, and it is…
Punctuation! Yes, instead of focusing on the poetic play-by-play, we recommend paying attention to the punctuation when reading this poem aloud. The periods tell you when to stop, the exclamation points will let you know what phrases to emphasize, and the quotes will inform you when different speakers pipe in. It's all the basic stuff you learned in grade school, and even the most out-of-practice reader will find it comes back to them after a quick exploratory reading or two. But just in case, here's another example:
So, of course, that's what I started to do,
but a Sour Hunch came to spoil it.
"Your bicycle's rusting up!" he yapped.
"Get yourself out back and oil it!" (11.1-4)
When reading this stanza allowed, simply follow punctuation protocol. Give a slight pause at the commas, provide a full breath's stop at the periods, and really drive home those exclamation points.
Additionally, if a period or question mark requires you to stop in the middle of a line, do so. This is called a caesura, and it's perfectly fine (see. 14.8). If no period or comma comes at the end of the line, then you've got a case of enjambment (check out stanza 9). Don't stop! Just keep on reading.
As for the quotations marks, since they dictate a new speaker, you'll need to come up with a new voice to differentiate those words from the narrators. And speaking of voices—
Your Thespian Transformation
You're going to need to dig deep into your voice box for this one. What do you mean you don't do voices? Maybe you haven't done voices recently, but that doesn't mean you don't do them. And now is the time to let them be free.
First, you'll need a narratorial voice. This voice belongs to the boy, and you'll use it whenever he's talking. Since he's the one telling the story, his lines are all the ones not surrounded by quotation marks. For him, you can generally get away with your regular voice, but if you want to get creative, we suggest going with something in the flavor of a classic Charlie Brown.
Your chance to get crazy with the voices is when the Hunches speak. Go ahead and grab inspiration in anything from old movie stars to cartoons to pop culture icons. Just don't be weak sauce about it. Focus in, and really try to discover what that particular Hunch would sound like given its personality, looks, and purpose within the story. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- The disembodied voice from stanza 14 should have a deep and commanding voice. We like to go with Orson Welles or The Simpsons' God voice.
- The Up Hunch should be high-pitched and flighty with a hint of practical joker. Think Looney Tunes or Animaniacs here.
- The Down Hunch needs the classic wise hermit living on a hill. Rummage through some old kung fu movies for inspiration, especially the Pai Mei-type characters.
- The Real Tough Hunch needs to be, well, real tough. Based on the skates he rolls around on, we suggest old-school bully. Maybe something from an 80s flick mixed with a touch of Bronx.
Feel free to break our mold and hone in on your own original strengths. Do you do a particularly wonderful British chappy? Or a Jimmy Stewart that's to die for? Southern Belle? Get as creative and crazy as you'd like. It's Dr. Seuss we're talking about after all.