Flashback Fridays: Two sizes too small . . .

You’re a grumpy hermetic outsider who hates the festivities going on down in the happy little town nearby.  You’ve finally had enough and decide to take matters into your own hands to see an end to the joy and cheer.

Do you remember:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (HarperCollins, c1957)

I suspect many people know of the Grinch.  Even if you’ve never read the original picture book, there’s plenty of exposure due to the two movies made of the story.

Like old Scrooge from A Christmas Carol,  Seuss’s Grinch is very much opposed to the idea of Christmas and festivities. In fact, the Grinch is so opposed, he chooses to put a stop to it rather than allow it to continue on any longer. We’re not sure what has put him at odds with Christmas for fifty three years, but he’s not going to take it anymore.  The Grinch disguises himself as Santa and goes about stealing all the Christmas presents, trappings and food from each house.  What he finds is that Christmas can’t be stopped so easily.

The original Grinch is not the bright green fellow we know from the movies, but actually rather colorless, just a an outline.  He’s one of the more marvelous villains of the picture book world.  The  Grinch may not have a cape to swirl or a mustache to twirl, but he’s a villain through and through, and he’s our main character.  We never get to know any other characters in this tale by name except one.  Cindy Lou Who has a small role of her own, but it’s the Grinch who has to think fast when she wakes up and sees him.

This is one of those stories–one of the very, very few, where the movie version is better than the book.  And I’m NOT talking about the live-action version that was out a few years ago. That one was a travesty.  No, I’m referring to the original animated 1966 TV special.  Chuck Jones animated the short,  Boris Karloff narrated it, Theodore Geisel himself wrote the song lyrics.   I’ve watched the  short countless times (I have kids who adore it). I’ve also read the book dozens of times to different audiences.  And I’m still of the opinion that what the Seuss book does, the TV special manages to do better.  Chuck Jones artistic styling gives The Grinch his trademark green–though it’s a rather greeny yellow and nowhere near the florescent green he’s often shown in nowadays.    Jones makes the Grinch just as awful as we would want.  The iconic scene when his smile curls evilly on his face to the line “the Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea” is a perfect example.

This is from the book:


This is from the TV special:


There are some additional lines thrown in to the text, and one fantastic song.  If you’ve never heard the “Mr. Grinch” song, you have got to have a listen.  With music, animation and the delightful vocal contributions of Boris Karloff, this is the kind of animated special you just can’t beat.  And I don’t feel bad saying it’s better than the book because Geisel himself worked on the movie–so of course he had time to perfect and fine tune things!

Still, the book is still one of my all time favorites to read aloud at the holidays.  What are your favorite stories for this time of year?


About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on December 20, 2014, in Flashback Fridays, General Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. It has been a long time since I read this, but the fact that the Grinch was not his iconic color in the original book kind of blew my mind.

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