Famous explorer Marco Polo once said, "Lo! Have I traveled Asia far and wide in my golden chariot, ne'er having encountered so much as a flat tire. And so my name will be used by sightless children in pools to amuse themselves in uncomplicated glory." Don't ask us why Marco Polo talked like a pilgrim. He was quite the character. The point is, Polo knew that there are no ups without any downs. And Oh, the Places You'll Go! certainly has its downs, a fact easily spotted in both the illustrations and the words. There are two main disappointment sections—one when the balloon gets snagged and the other when the whole ball-kicking career doesn't work out—and they lead directly to another universal theme—fear of the unknown.
Q: How come no one helps him down from that prickle-ly perch?
A: Some things, kiddo, are a one-man job.
Q: How come the people in the Waiting Place do nothing but wait?
A: Hmm. Good question. I bet they're a little scared, and sometimes when you're scared, it's easier to just wait for something to happen to you, rather than to go out and make decisions. Does that sound like a good idea to you?
Q: What does it mean when the story says, "Sometimes you will play against you"?
A: Life lesson alert! Sometimes we're our own worst enemy.