(FYI: Most of the rest of the story is a flashback. The boy actually fades out of the story until the ending—guess he's not the protagonist after all.)
The town wasn't always gray and bare and broken-down looking.
Nope. When the Once-ler first drives his covered wagon (hey, it's a flashback!) into town, it's a paradise, complete with bright, blue skies; clean, clear water; and singing Swomee-Swans. Oh, and Truffula Trees. Don't forget about those.
Truffula Trees have skinny black and yellow trunks and are topped with fluffy flower balls that come in many colors. Sounds like Seuss to us.
There are even Brown Bar-ba-loots (notice how Dr. Seuss uses hyphens to help make these crazy words easy for kids to sound out), which are skinny little bear-like creatures that look like they'd make nice pets.
The Bar-ba-loots romp and frolic in the Truffula shade and munch on Truffula Fruits, which look like extra-large grapes.
One more type of creature to add to the mix: Humming-Fish (fish who can hum), happily doing fishy things in their sparkling pond.
But for the Once-ler, it's all about the Truffula Trees. Their flowery tufts are "much softer than silk" (76). And oooh that smell, a smell Shmoop only smells in dreams—the tufts smell like "fresh butterfly milk" (78).
(Sorry, we're going to leave it to you to explain the whole butterfly milk thing to your little ones.)
The Truffula Trees make the Once-ler's heart go pitter-pat and put a spring in his step.
Why? Well, in addition to butterfly milk, the Once-ler smells profit.