The King's Stilts
by Dr. Seuss
The King's Stilts Introduction
In A Nutshell
What are these Seuss words? They don't even rhyme!
It's okay Shmoopers, you'll have a grand time
Reading this classic, 'bout a King and his stilts
And how he averted disaster and guilt.
You'll meet King Birtram, who works very hard
And you'll meet his advisor, Lord Droon, and his guards.
The king does his business, and then has some fun.
But ol' Droony believes when the workday is done
King Birtram should still work, straight through the night.
And not go for walks on his stilts in delight.
So Droon steals those stilts, that old party pooper.
And the King grows so bummed that he's in a stupor.
But Eric, Birt's pageboy, will soon save the day.
Though Droon tries his hardest to get in the way.
'Cause sans stilty fun, King Birtram's a bore,
A negligent ruler, a bum, and much more.
But Seuss cared for more than just words on a page.
This book's about nature and war in his age.
The environment, too, plays a mighty big part,
It's always been close to the old Doc's heart.
See, the Kingdom of Binn is surrounded by sea
And without Birtram's rule, the water'd be free
To flood the streets of the Binnians' town
Until all would be lost to a lazybones crown.
So the lesson, dear Shmoopers, you'll read today
Is that balance is needed 'tween work and play.
A king without stilts is a noseless clown,
Sure to bring out the frowniest frowns.
When you read '39's The King's Stilts, you'll cry:
"Kiddos, it's time! To flit! And to fly!"
Sure, work is important—the essence of life.
But work without play is nothing but strife.
Why Should I Care?
Let's chat about something that's a real pain for adults: achieving a work/life balance. We know, we know—this is a kids' book. What's work/life balance doing here? But hey, whoever said adults can't learn a thing or two from the good Doc?
King Birtram works very, very hard every day to keep his kingdom up and running. He's got a ton of stuff to do to make that happen (not unlike the stuff we have to deal with—those endless office tasks, classroom activities, and that pile of laundry that only seems to grow… and grow… and grow).
But at the end of the day, once he's diligently gone through all the necessary tasks, King Birtram gets to kick back and relax. And by relax, we mean that he climbs onto a pair of ridiculously tall red stilts and happily gallivants around the kingdom.
Hey, different strokes for different folks.
No matter how hectic the day, the stilts are his way to unwind. He cherishes the me-time up there in the heights, but only after he's done the hard work needed to make things happen. He has achieved, in short, work/life balance. Huzzah.
So if you're looking for a little bit of that in your life, look no further than The King's Stilts to show you how to make it happen. And you know what? It's not a bad lesson for your kids either. Sometimes you have to do some tough stuff before you can reap the rewards.
So, for example, when your kids try to sneak dessert before their veggies or want to play Guitar Hero before finishing homework, you can remind them about King Birtram: "Do you think he kept all those Nizzards out by playing video games before he got down to business?"
And with any luck, they'll shake their heads and get back to their times tables.
Why Your Kids Should Care
Seuss is always fun, but can he stay kooky and interesting without the rhymes or the bizarre imaginary creatures? The answer, if The King's Stilts is any indicator, is a big ol' absotutely.
Kiddos will have fun rooting for the silly King Birtram—who is a great ruler, and loves him some stilts—in this classic tale of a benevolent monarch whose Rasputin-esque royal advisor plots against him. In other words, it's a fun romp, with just enough drama to keep you and your tiny tots turning the page.
But here's the real kicker. Kids are gonna love this tale because it gives them ammo in the grand Go do your homework before you do your skateboarding argument. When they feel like their parents or teachers are working them too hard, and not giving them enough time for fun, don't be surprised to hear them say, "Remember King Birtram and how depressed he got when his stilts were taken away? Do you really want me to be like that, you old Droon?"
Okay, sure, you might not want to actually give your kids ammo in that argument, but they'll definitely appreciate the fun boost to their side. And you can always counter with a gentle reminder that ol' Birtram only got on those stilts after the his duties were a done deal.