The Story Behind the Art- The Lorax

Two weeks ago, my family and I took a weekend trip to Houston to visit family. Looking for things to do with a three-year old, we heard great reviews on the Dr. Seuss Experience; a whimsical, interactive exploration through nine different Dr. Seuss books. 

Selfie in The Lorax room at the Dr. Seuss Experience.


One Dr. Seuss book I feel worth writing about celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, The Lorax.  If you haven't read it or watched the movie, the story's deliberate message is one of environmental responsibility, ambition, and standing up for what is right. 

What's the story behind The Lorax?

 "Every once in a while, I get mad." Geisel told a reporter in 1983. 

Theodore Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss,  moved to the sleepy town of La Jolla, California in the 1940's. He build a house on the Pacific with a picture window framed by the eucalyptus and cypress trees growing atop the cliffs. Fast forward twenty years to the late 1960's,  California was experiencing an economic boom. La Jolla was no longer sleepy. To make room for population growth, developers proposed building condos into the cliff side, which meant a change of scenery for the children's author. The trees would have to go. 

Dr. Seuss used his gift of storytelling to fight back.He "spoke for the  trees "by writing and illustrating  The Lorax. 

Geisel suffered writer's block for some nine months, trying to write and illustrate a story that was entertaining but not too preachy. It wasn't until he and his wife took a trip to Kenya when he witnessed a herd of elephants climb over a hill. "Why that released me, I don't know-but all of a sudden all my notes assembled mentally." 

The book had its share of controversy. Logging is one of the largest industries in California. The book  was banned in Laytonville, CA in 1989 from a local public school claiming it shed a negative light on the industry. 

Geisel insisted the book didn't target a specific industry. "The Lorax doesn't say lumbering is immoral. I live in a house made of wood and write books printed on paper. It's a book about going easy on what we've got. It's anti-pollution, anti-greed." 

Geisel also said "The Lorax" was his favorite. 

My favorite line-"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."