Seussical: the Musical
Notes and Glossary
- Dr Seuss was the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel. The correct
pronunciation of his name is /'te-o-dor zɔʏs 'gai-zel/. For
awhile he tried to get people to pronounce Seuss as (zoyce), as the
correct German pronunciation, rhyming with "Joyce", but later
gave up and since most people were pronouncing it to rhyme with
- In 1960 his alma mater, Dartmouth College, awarded him an honorary
doctorate, so henceforth he could justify the use of the name Dr Seuss!
- The Cat in the Hat appears in two Dr Seuss books: The Cat in
the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. It was the first
of these two books that made Geisel famous. In the first book, the Cat
is accompanied by Thing 1 and Thing 2. In the story he
meets Sally and her (unnamed) brother, as well as their Fish. In the
sequel, Thing 1, Thing 2, and Fish do not appear, but the Cat is accompanied by
Cats A through Z.
- Horton the elephant appears in Horton Hatches the Egg
and Horton Hears a Who!
- Gertrude McFuzz appears with her own story in Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories.
- Mayzie LaBird lays the egg that she induces Horton to sit on in
Horton Hatches the Egg.
- Jojo is a young who-boy, in Horton Hears a Who!
- Sour Kangaroo is one of those who make fun of Horton in Horton Hears a Who!
- The Wikersham Brothers are monkeys who also taunt Horton in Horton Hears a Who!
- General Genghis Kahn Schmitz : He appears in I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew,
and the Seussical character is based on him and on the unnamed
general in The Butter Battle Book. The character name is spelled various ways:
instead of Genghis; Kahn instead of Khan; Kahn is the German word
for "boat" or "barge". In 1206, the Mongol leader
Temüjin, after conquering the other Mongol tribes, held a khuruldai
(council) of Mongol chieftains to plan his next program: conquest of the
world, at which time he took the title Genghis Khan, meaning something
like "lord of the world".
- Oh, the thinks you can think!: think is one of a class
of usually intransitive verbs that can take a direct object, but only a
cognate object; that is, another word directly related. One can only
"dream a dream", "sleep a sleep", or "think a
thought". Of course, Dr Seuss changed that to "think a
think!". (A list of such verbs [perhaps not complete]: sleep, laugh,
dream, think, smile, cough, talk, fall, live, die.)
- R-E-S-P-E-C-K (p. 21) Although the reference here is to the
"speck" of dust on which the Whos live and only Horton can
hear, it is an allusion to the song R-E-S-P-E-C-T, which was written by
Otis Redding in 1965. With altered lyric it became a major hit and
signature song for Aretha Franklin in 1967, and won a Grammy in 1968 for
best R&B song.
- Sally Jessy Raphael (p. 22; misspelled in script) was born
Sally Lowenthal, and is best known for her TV talk show which ran from
1983 to 2002. She was known for her oversized red spectacles, which she
wore in all her public appearances. Rather than being a political show,
her style was to give common-sense advice about ordinary topics. As time
went on, her show faced competition from Phil Donohue, Jerry Springer,
and Maury Povich, and by 2000, this style of show was in decline.
- The Truffula trees (p. 29) are the trees being cut down in the
story of The Lorax.
- Palm Beach (p. 61) is a town in Palm Beach County, Florida,
which is named for the coconut palms that grow there. Coconuts are not
native to the United States, but in 1878 a Spanish ship with coconuts in
its cargo sailing from
Havana to Spain was shipwrecked. Since the wreck was near the shore,
many of the coconuts were planted. In 1894, Henry Morton Flagler, the
Standard Oil magnate, built his Florida East Coast Railway to the area
and founded the towns of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, the latter across the
Intracoastal Waterway. He envisioned the whole coast as an American
Riviera. Palm Beach was envisioned as a winter home of the most gilded
of the Gilded Age, and Flagler himself built a Beaux-Arts mansion in
1902, called Whitehall. At that time, the servants, mostly black, who
worked for the rich people lived in a district called The Styx, renting
their small houses. But early in the 20th century, they were all
evicted, and found homes in West Palm Beach, and The Styx was
- Seusseby’s (p. 68) is a reference to Sotheby’s, the
fourth-oldest auction house in continuous operation in the world.
Although it is a British Corporation, corporate headquarters are in New
York. It is now an international publicly-traded company with three
segments: auction, finance, and dealer (of fine art, jewelry, &c).
- The Circus McGurkus (p. 69) is the circus described in If I
Ran the Circus, but it is combined with the circus that travels to
Palm Beach in Horton Hears a Who!
- The Greatest Show on Earth was the motto of Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey Circus, which was formed in 1919, and closed May 21,
2017, because of declining attendance.
- Kalamazoo (p. 71) is a city in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. It
is the site of Western Michigan University as well as the Kalamazoo
Mall. Because of its name, it has been mentioned in many songs,
including "I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo" and "Kalamazoo
to Timbuktu." The city has several nicknames, including The Mall City,
K’zoo, K-zoo, and The Zoo. Interestingly, the only Zoo in the city
closed in 1974.
- Shark River Hills (p. 71) is an unincorporated community
located about two miles from the shore in Neptune
County, New Jersey.
- Pittsburgh (p. 71) is the second-largest city in Pennsylvania.
Formerly, it was a major steel-mill city. Today, most of the steel mills
are gone, but there are many steel-related businesses still there, and
many high-tech firms. (There are other cities, towns, and unincorporated
communities in other states named Pittsburg, spelled without the
final h: in California, Florida, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oklahoma,
and Texas.) Pittsburg, California was originally settled in 1839, and was called first "New York Landing", then "Black Diamond", before citizens voted on "Pittsburg" on February 11, 1911. The name was selected to honor Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the two
cities shared a common steel and mining industrial heritage. However, from 1891 to July 1911, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was officially known as "Pittsburg", following a country-wide standardization of geographical names by the United States Board on Geographic Names. Hence, in February 1911, when Pittsburg, California adopted it name, the
h was absent from its namesake city. Five months later, after an appeals process lasting almost two decades, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania won a rare reversal and the
h was restored to the city’s official name, which persists to this day, resulting in the spelling difference.
- Dubuque (p. 71) is a city in northeastern Iowa right across the Mississippi River
from Illinois and near the junction of three states: Iowa, Illinois, and
- Bibulous (p. 77) is General Schmitz’s description of the
Butter Side Downers. It means (1) absorbent, and (2) given to or
marked by consumption of alcohol.
- A junk (p. 87) is a type of boat of various sizes with a
fully-battened sail used in southeast Asia, but mainly in China. Junks
have been in use at least since the 2nd century ad.
The word derives from Portuguese junco, which is from Malay jong
or Javanese djong.
- Remand (p. 94) is from French, and literally means "to send back," although that sense is now obsolete in English. Today, it is a legal term with two meanings: (1) to send a prisoner back to custody; and (2) to send a case back to a lower court for further consideration.
- The majority of Dr Seuss stories are in anapestic tetrameter, a poetic
meter used frequently (but not always) for comic effect: "And to
think that I saw it on Mulberry Street"; "And today the Great Yertle, that marvelous he / Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.";
"I had trouble in getting to Solla Sollew." Clement Clark
Moore’s book A Visit from Saint Nicholas ("’Twas the night
before Christmas and all through the house") is also in anapestic tetrameter. (Anapest
is the metrical foot consisting of two weak syllables followed by one
strong syllable: dee-dee-DUM, as in Tennessee or
means a line consists of four feet.)
Books that contributed to Seussical
- And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1936) -- This is
the story of the boy Marco, who imagines wonderful things on Mulberry
Street. The Mulberry Street in the story is in Springfield,
Massachusetts, about one mile from where Geisel grew up. It has the same
name as the famous Mulberry Street in Manhattan that runs through Little
- Horton Hatches the Egg (1940) -- This is the story of how
Horton the Elephant is talked into sitting on the egg of Mayzie the Bird
while she takes a permanent vacation in Palm
Beach. People laugh at
Horton, sitting on an egg in a tree, but Horton replies, "I mean
what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one
hundred percent!" Eventually, Horton and the egg end up in a
traveling circus, which plays near Palm Beach just as the egg hatches.
(The story of Horton and Mayzie was anticipated in one of Aesop’s
fables: "The Ant and the Grasshopper." The grasshopper [or cicada, in some
versions] sings away all
summer, while the ant stores up food for the winter. When winter comes,
the grasshopper begs to be fed from the ant’s store, but is refused.
This is also used as an example of the Epimethean
[SJ] versus Dionysian [SP] personality types.)
- McElligot’s Pool (1947) -- In this story, Marco returns, to
imagine what fantastic fish he might find in a small pool.
- Horton Hears a Who! (1954) --Horton the elephant is back in his
home, the jungle of Nool, and
this time he hears a voice from a speck of dust, which he learns
contains a whole community of tiny beings called Whos. Horton vows to
protect them, saying that "a person’s a person, no matter how
small." He is ridiculed first by a sour Kangaroo, then by the
Wickersham brothers, a group
of monkeys, and then by Vlad Vladikoff, a black-bottomed eagle. To save
Whoville, Horton convinces the Whos to make as much noise as possible so
that the others will know they exist. But only Horton can hear them.
Then the Mayor of Whoville finds a small Who boy named Jojo, who is not
making noise. The added voice of Jojo enables the others to hear the
Whos, and they are saved.
- If I Ran the Circus (1956) -- Morris McGurk imagines a circus
he would like to run in the back lot of Mr Sneelock’s store: The
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957) -- The Grinch decides to
ruin Christmas in Whoville by stealing everyone’s Christmas
decorations and presents on Christmas Eve. Yet on Christmas morning, the
Whos celebrate Christmas anyway, and the Grinch then returns everything,
and is the guest of honor for Christmas dinner. This story was made into
an animated film in 1966, with Boris Karloff as both the narrator and
the voice of the Grinch. In 2000 it appeared as a live-action film with
Jim Carey. There is a new version scheduled to be released in 2018 with
- The Cat in the Hat (1957) -- In this story a girl named Sally
is left alone with her brother, who is unnamed, but is the narrator of
the story. Then The Cat appears, with his helpers, Thing 1 and Thing 2,
and proceeds to take over the house and wreck everything, despite
objections from the children’s fish. When Fish spots the children’s
mother about to return, The Cat produces a machine that makes everything
right, and leaves just before Mother arrives.
- Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (1958)
- Yertle the Turtle --Yertle is king of the turtles, and he
demands all the turtles form a stack so that he can have a higher
throne. As the number of turtles grow, Mack, the turtle at the
bottom, begins to complain. Finally, Mack burps, and that makes the
turtle tower collapse, making Yertle king of the mud!
- Gertrude McFuzz -- Gertrude is a bird with one tail
feather. Wanting a tail like that of Lolla Lee Lew, she eats some
berries that make her tail grow. But now wanting an even better
tail, she eats the whole berry bush, which makes her tail bigger
than her body, so that she can no longer fly or even walk. The other
birds begin plucking out her excess feathers until she only has one,
as before, wiser for the experience.
- The Big Brag -- A rabbit and a bear argue which is the greatest
until a worm puts them both in their place.
- Green Eggs and Ham (1960) -- This is a book for younger
readers, having a vocabulary of only 50 words. The character called
Sam-I-Am keeps trying to get the other (unnamed) character to try green
eggs and ham. But he replies, "I do not like them Sam-I-Am. I do
not like green eggs and ham!"
- One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960) -- This is also a
book for younger readers.
- The Sneetches and Other Stories (1961)
- The Sneetches are of two types: those with stars on their
bellies and those without. When a character shows up with a machine
to add stars to those without, the starred Sneetches resent losing
their special status. So they pay to have their stars removed. In
the end, they all wind up broke, and the character with the machines
leaves, very rich. The Sneetches then decide they can all get along.
- The Zax -- There are two characters, a northbound Zax and a
southbound Zax. They meet, and neither will yield to the other,
leaving them both stuck in their path.
- Too Many Daves -- This story concerns Mrs McCave with 23
sons, all named Dave!
- What Was I Scared Of?
- Dr. Seuss’s ABC (1963) -- This is a beginner’s book
intended to teach children the alphabet.
- I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew (1965) -- In this
story the protagonist, a young child, sets out for the city of Solla Sollew ("where they never have troubles / at least very few"),
and encounters various troubles along the way, mostly small creatures
that bite and sting. At one point he encounters the fierce, but
ultimately cowardly, General Genghis Kahn Schmitz, who drafts him into
his army, but abandons him at a critical moment. In the end, the
protagonist realizes he must face is troubles, finally declaring, "Now my troubles are going to have troubles with
- The Lorax (1971) is one of Dr Seuss’s political books. The
Lorax speaks for the Truffula trees until they are all cut down.
- Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? (1973) --This book is
the story of an old man who tells his listener about various unfortunate
characters, so that the listener will realize how lucky he is.
- Oh, the Thinks You Can Think! (1975) -- The title of this book
led to the lyric of the opening musical number of the show.
- Hunches in Bunches (1982) -- In this book, a boy is approached
by various characters called hunches, and they give him contradictory
- The Butter Battle Book (1984) -- This is a story about a war
between the Yooks and the Zooks. The Yooks dress in blue, the Zooks in
Orange. But the most important dispute between them is that the Yooks
eat their bread butter side up and the Zooks butter side down. This is
probably Dr Seuss’s most political book. It was written during the
cold war and was a protest against the doctrine of "mutually
assured destruction." It also echoes Jonathan Swift’s description
of the civil war in Lilliput in Gulliver’s Travels, between the
Big-Endians and the Little-Endians, who differed by the end they cracked their
- Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990) -- This is the last Dr Seuss
book published in his lifetime. It is written in the future tense, and
talks about possibilities.
- Daisy-Head Mayzie (published posthumously, 1995; republished 2016 with Geisel’s
illustrations) is about a 12-year old school girl who has a daisy
growing from her head. It causes issues for her, but eventually makes
her a celebrity.
Other Dr Seuss books
- The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938)
- The King’s Stilts
- Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose (1948)
- Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949)
- If I Ran the Zoo (1950)
- Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953)
- On Beyond Zebra! (1955)
- The Cat in the Hat Comes Back (1958)
- Happy Birthday to You! (1959)
- Dr. Seuss’s Sleep Book (1962)
- Hop on Pop (1963)
- Fox in Socks (1965)
- The Cat in the Hat Song book (1967)
- The Foot Book (1968)
- I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! and Other Stories (1969)
- I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today!
- King Looie Katz
- The Glunk That Got Thunk
- Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?: Dr. Seuss’s Book of Wonderful Noises!
- Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! (1972)
- The Shape of Me and Other Stuff (1973)
- There’s a Wocket in My Pocket (1974)
- Great Day for Up! (1974)
- The Cat’s Quizzer (1976)
- I Can Read with My Eyes Shut! (1978)
- Oh Say Can You Say? (1978)
- You’re Only Old Once! (1986)
- I’m NOT Going to Get Up Today! (1987)
Dr Seuss books published posthumously
- My Many Colored Days (1996)
- Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! (1998)
- The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (2011)
- The Bippolo Seed
- The Rabbit, The Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga
- Gustav, the Goldfish
- Tadd and Todd
- Steak for Supper
- The Strange Shirt Spot
- The Great Henry McBride
- Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories (2014)
- Horton and the Kwuggerbug (1951)
- Marco Comes Late (1950)
- How Officer Pat Saved the Whole Town (1950)
- The Hoobub and the Grinch (1955)
- What Pet Should I Get? (2015)
Theo. LeSieg books
- I Wish That I Had Duck Feet (1965)
- Come over to My House (1966; 2016)
- Wacky Wednesday (1974)
Note: LeSieg is Geisel spelled backwards!
Much material here is from Wikipedia.
- Last updated: 07/25/2017.
- For additions, suggestions, corrections,
or comments on this glossary, please email
me: tf_mcq <at> yahoo.com.
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