April 17, 2012

Hop on Pop

Hop on Pop
By Dr. Seuss; illus. by author
0-4 Preschool Primary Random House 72 pp.
978-0394800295 Hardcover $8.99

Hop on Pop has been a perennial favorite since it bounced onto the scene in 1963. Dr. Seuss designed it to be a reading primer, combining word recognition and simple phonics in such a way that would be suitable for the very youngest of children just learning to read. True though it is, it all sounds very dry when it's put that way. But Hop on Pop, in typical Seuss fashion, is anything but dry. AS with most of Dr. Seuss's impressive body of work, he takes simple, monosyllabic rhymes and gives them a goose with a good dose of silliness. Who else but Dr. Seuss would think to say, "Three Tree. Three fish in a tree. Fish in a tree? How can that be?" and combine it with an illustration of three fat, self-satisfied fish lounging in the billowy foliage of an orange tree while two yellow puppy-rabbit-Seuss-people look on scratching their heads? But while the silliness, on one hand, is just plain good fun, it serves a second purpose. Just as in Fox in Socks, Green Eggs and Ham and other Seuss classics for slightly older readers, the whimsey and nonsense in Hop on Pop makes reading fun. So while toddlers and preschoolers (and even pre-verbal babies whose loved-ones read the book to them) are being exposed to concepts that help develop and support literacy, they are learning an even more important lesson - that reading is not boring. It is not scary, (at least, it doesn't have to be). In fact, reading, as Dr. Seuss sells it, can be the wildest form of fun, which makes Hop on Pop the perfect "Seuss for Toddler's Use".

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