Title: The Lorax

Published: 1971

Author: Dr. Seuss

Challenge status: Included on a recent article about classic children’s books that have been banned in America. Book #29 on Summer of Banned Books ’13.

Why:  Unpopular with the logging industry, the book was apparently challenged or removed in timber-dependent communities, and specifically was challenged in 1989 in Laytonville, California on grounds that it was “anti-logging.”

First line: “At the far end of town / where the Grickle-grass grows / and the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows”

Synopsis:

As parables go, Dr. Seuss lays it on pretty thick in “The Lorax”. The greedy Once-ler takes down an entire species of trees for their fabulous fibers – to make “Thneeds” (which bear a suspicious resemblance to the modern day snuggies). And no more Truffula trees means no more Bar-ba-loots, Swomee-Swans, Humming Fish…and ultimately no more blue skies, green grass, clean clouds, or fresh breezes.

The Lorax tries to get the Once-ler to see reason, but…”business is business, and business must grow”. It occurs to me that the Lorax might have tried to foreshadow the ultimate doom a little bit earlier, I mean, introduce the concept of reforestation before the Once-ler had cut down ALL the trees, but, that might not have had the same Call to Action that total annihilation had.

Side note: when I visited Brazil I visited a paper manufacturer. It was one of the most interesting stops on the trip. The company was really excited to share their advances in technology, specifically how quickly their trees re-forested. They had scientists working on developing trees that grow to harvestable size in a very short time – I can’t remember exact details, but 5-7 years comes to mind – so that they can work within the same footprint and limit environmental impact of their operations. I was not entirely convinced, but it was heartening to see investments being made in that area.