It is the end of September, which means I have already been listening to Christmas music for at least six weeks! The end of August and the beginning of September are particularly stressful in my day job, and Christmas music fills me with joy whether it is December, July, or August. I have a soft spot for Christmas. Music, decorations, books, all of the festive frivolities of the season.
Having spent the first 22 years of my life in the UK, the Dr Seuss classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas was not one of my early standards. Instead I would read Round the Christmas Tree, or the Christmas edition of the Radio Times (our TV Guide)!
However, as a love struck Brit on an exchange program in 2000, it was the soundtrack to this classic that brought out the feelings my now husband and I had for each other, we refer to this as “the longest hug ever.” When I had my first child, it was How The Grinch Stole Christmas that my dad purchased in the UK to read to his young American grandson over the webcam on Christmas Eve. Over the past 14 years I have listened to the music, watched the many versions of the movie, and purchased all the stuffed animals. With the caveat that I still have not seen the Jim Carrey version, I could not, would not, watch that flick.
Image: Sarah Pinault All other images: Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Random House Children’s Books
So, it is with caution, trepidation, and much facial scrunching that I accepted a copy of the new How The Grinch Lost Christmas. Would it be good? Would it be bad? Would it be full of Whos or would it lose? My mind was simply in a spill, with these new words from old Whoville!
66 years later, we finally find out what happens to the Grinch on his first full Christmas, one year later, after his heart grew three sizes. Well I am a sucker for any “what comes next” story. This is the first time that Dr. Seuss Enterprises (with Random House Children’s Books) have expanded the narrative of the Grinch. This is not from an archive, some long misplaced tome, this is a fully original story, written and illustrated in classic Dr. Seuss style by author Alastair Heim and artist Aristides Ruiz, both longtime contributors to Dr. Seuss publishing.
When I got this in my hands it started off very well. Featuring a foil-enhanced jacket and full-color illustrations in the iconic style of the original, I felt my heart grow, maybe not three sizes, but grow it did. The illustrations are perfect. They capture the whimsy and wonder of the original, and add some new elements without taking away anything you have come to expect. While some of the rhyming schemes are less than Seussian, for the most part it rolls around the mouth like a proper Dr Seuss book should. With word play, with nonsense, with creativity, and character, it feels good to be reading these words.
The story centers around a Christmas competition in Whoville, that ends up engaging the Grinch’s competitive side more than his Christmas side. Yet again it is Cindy Lou Who to the forefront, and the Grinch searches his soul for the true meaning of Christmas once more.
The Grinch had been patiently waiting all year,
To celebrate Christmas and bring the Whos cheer,
And to show every Who he was DIFFERENT now.
“I’ve changed!” thought the Grinch,
“And I’ll prove it! But HOW?”
This book hits home. If, as a parent, you have ever debated over the amount of presents to buy at Christmas, or the size of the tree; if you have ever purchased a home decor magazine and then gone a bit nuts in the Target holiday aisle. Then you might recognize some of the emotions the Grinch experiences as he tries to express his love of Christmas and his love of the Whos through the trinkets and trappings of Christmas. The more I read this to my kids, who also love a little Christmas out of season, the more I feel my heart growing. It hits a little harder on the commercialism than even the original did, but then the commercialism we face today hits harder than that from 66 years ago.
It is a feel good holiday story in keeping with the traditional classic it comes from. And while it will never replace the original in the hearts and minds of millions of readers, it is a worthy addition to the Grinch’s story.
How The Grinch Lost Christmas was recently released by Dr. Seuss Enterprises with Random House Children’s Books. GeekMom received a copy for review purposes.