Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories Introduction
In A Nutshell
In the faraway mind of a man named Seuss
There toddled three tales every Shmooper could use.
"Yertle the Turtle" is the name of the first,
The tale of a king with unquenchable thirst
For power and greatness and laser-like sight,
Caring zilch for the turtles he crushed with his might.
Story two brings a plea from a prideful young bird,
"More tails on my bottom!" from Gertrude was heard.
You know what happens to birds that are vain?
They snag on thick rocks causing oodles of pain.
Lastly we come to one rabbit and bear
Who stick out their chests and brag and compare.
We bet you can guess what goes down in the end:
They're laughably bested by their little worm friend.
Now one thing to know when you read this collection
These tales run way deeper upon some reflection.
Keep those ears open, stay tuned for the voice
That screams from these pages, "Give the small guys a choice!"
No wonder this book had its own bit of scandal
Politically speaking, it's a whole lot to handle.
But for Seuss it's no bother, it's kind of the norm
To slip in great meaning right under the storm.
There were many a gale back in one nine five eight
And this book hit shelves not a moment too late.
So buckle up, Shmoopers, what will and what may.
Let's play with the turtles. That's the Seuss way!
Why Should I Care?
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories covers just about the entire breadth of human themes. Want to talk about vanity? Give "Gertrude McFuzz" a whirl. Want to show your kid why no one likes a blowhard? Flip no further than "The Big Brag."
But if you're going to read these books for one reason and one reason only, it should be the character Yertle. You know—the turtle. Don't be fooled by his silly name. He's not shaped like a yurt (um, actually…) and he's not about to go all turtle power on you.
Yertle is a bully. And the only way to unbully-fy him is to stand up to the man—um, turtle. Bottom line: someone who's selfish and crazy can only stand on top of the other turtles if they let him.
Why is this something you should care about? Because no matter how good you are at sequestering your kid in a bubble, they're bound to encounter a bully like Yertle. They're not just going to find them on the playground. They're going to see them running companies and governments, and it's important to know what to do.
You know how we know this? Because Dr. Seuss modeled Yertle the Turtle after Hitler. Yep. A good tagline for this book could have been, "Finally, a fun, colorful, non-traumatizing way to teach your kid about dictators!"
Oh, relax. It doesn't get that serious. In fact, there are many ways you could read the story without broaching the dictator factor. This is the gift Seuss has given us: a full exploration of humanity through rhymes and pictures and jokes and just a dash of potty humor into which we can dig as far as we like—or not. What could be better?
Why Your Kids Should Care
Okay, it's time for you to have the Special Talk with your kid. No, not that talk—a talk about Dr. Seuss and why they should give the Doc a shot.
It all goes back to a friend of ours named Moop. Actually, more like a "friend" of ours. After all, Moop isn't all that nice. She's the girl on the playground that tells everyone else what to do. She decides what games will be played and who's going to do what and she doesn't care what anybody else thinks about it. If one of the other kids brings in a special treat like fruit snacks, she decides how it's all going to be divided up, and, shhhhh she sneaks more for herself.
We're guessing that even if your kid doesn't know our friend Moop, your kid knows Moop. They've got a friend like this, and we're betting they keep hanging out with her even though they don't like her that much anyway.
Yertle the Turtle is all about big kids with big voices who boss everyone around. And you know what? It tells kids how to deal with them. And bonus: this story comes in a collection starring two other kids your child is probably looking how to handle, too.
So, why should your kid care about Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories? Because kids—um, turtles—like Yertle shouldn't get to rule the roost just because they have louder voices than everybody else. Right? Right.