Ok, so I say to my daughter last night, “Let’s read a book or two before you go to bed,” like a good mamma is supposed to do, right? Her face lights up and she shouts, “10 Apples! 10 Apples!” She was referring to Dr. Seuss’s 10 Apples Up on Top. Now, normally I like Dr. Seuss’s books. In fact, his are among my favorite childrens’ books. However, 10 Apples Up on Top is a bit monotonous, so I’m less than thrilled when my daughter suggests this one. But it teaches simple words and counting, so I cave and say, “All right.”
o, here we are reading this book where three animals -- a dog, a tiger, and a lion -- compete by seeing how many apples they can stack on their heads. “Look see, I can do three, I can put three on top, you see.” Or something like that. And then the next animal stacks four apples, then five, and so on until they finally have 10 apples on top. All of this is fine. We are counting and learning about competition.
Then a group of bears pick up mops and start swatting at the apples stacked on the animals’ heads. The book doesn't say why, but one can assume from the pictures that perhaps the dog, tiger, and lion stole the apples from the bears. The bears (there are about eight of them) chase the dog, tiger and lion around, swatting at the apples barely balancing on their heads, and chase them down a hill until, at last, the whole pack runs into a huge cart of a million apples being pulled by an old guy and his mule. Everything explodes, and then all of them put 10 apples on their heads – the bears, too! And everyone celebrates. “We all can have 10 apples on top!” is the gist.
My daughter is laughing, which makes me happy, but I’m sitting there perplexed. I cannot help but wonder what the message is supposed to be here. Compete to be the best at something, steal and destroy others’ livelihoods to get it, then share your booty with everyone, so all have equal shares?
What about the old guy with the mule? How long did it take for him to harvest all those apples? Where was he going with them? How will he feed his family and his mule now? Dr. Seuss forgets to mention that, doesn’t he? I don’t get it. Is this some sort of subliminal message to my child that socialism is OK? Is Dr. Seuss a pen name for Karl Marx?
Well, that’s it. I’m going to write my own version of this story. OK, so I probably won’t write my own version, but I will stuff this book to the back of my daughter’s book shelf and hope she forgets about it.