Bartholomew and the Oobleck
|1949 (renewed 1976)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Preceded by||The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins|
Bartholomew and the Oobleck is a 1949 book by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel). It follows the adventures of a young boy named Bartholomew, who must rescue his native kingdom from an adhesive called "oobleck". The book is a sequel of sorts to The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Unlike most of Geisel's books, which are written in anapestic tetrameter, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, like its predecessor, is a prose work.
Geisel said he drew inspiration for the book from a conversation he overheard while stationed in Belgium during World War II. During a rainstorm, one of his fellow soldiers remarked, "Rain, always rain. Why can't we have something different for a change?"
An audio version recorded by the actor Marvin Miller varies slightly from the book, in that the king encounters the crisis personally in his bathtub, when the Oobleck replaces the hot water.
The book opens with an assertion that people in the Kingdom of Didd still talk about "The year the King got angry with the sky", in which protagonist Bartholomew Cubbins, King Derwin's page boy, saved the Kingdom. Throughout the year, Bartholomew sees the king frustrated by the monotony of rain in spring, sun in summer, fog in autumn, and snow in winter. When Bartholomew points out that "even kings can't rule the sky", the king vows to prove Bartholomew wrong. One spring night, he orders Bartholomew to summon his Royal Magicians for this task. Upon hearing the order, they promise to make something called "Oobleck", differing from all weather, and return to their cave to make the Oobleck. After watching the cave all night, Bartholomew sees the Oobleck precipitated the very next morning, in the form of an air-borne green slime. When the king sees the Oobleck, Bartholomew warns him against its increasing size; but the king orders Bartholomew to tell the Royal Bell Ringer to announce a holiday.
Bartholomew obeys; but when the bell ringer tries to ring the bell, he and Bartholomew find first it, and then an adjacent songbird, immobilized by the Oobleck. Bartholomew warns the Royal Trumpeter about the Oobleck; but when the trumpeter tries to sound the alarm, Oobleck falls into the trumpet and the trumpeter's hand adheres to it when he attempts removal. When Bartholomew tries to alert the Captain of the Guard to warn the kingdom, the captain tries to prove himself unafraid of the Oobleck by eating some, which leaves him unable to speak. Bartholomew approaches the Royal Stables for a horse to warn the kingdom himself, but finds the stables, and much of the kingdom, covered in Oobleck. When he retreats, the Oobleck breaks into the palace, and the palace servants, nobles, and guards are soon stuck in the Oobleck. In the throne room, the king, himself immobilized, orders Bartholomew to summon the magicians to stop the storm; but Bartholomew reveals that their cave is inaccessible. When the king attempts to re-create the magicians' magic rhymes, Bartholomew demands that the king instead apologize for requesting the Oobleck; and when the king does so, the sun dissolves the Oobleck, freeing everybody. After the Oobleck is gone, Bartholomew and the king proclaim the day a holiday dedicated to rain, sunshine, fog, and snow.
- Thomas Fensch. The Man Who Was Dr. Seuss. New Century Books, 2001. 95.
- The Newbery and Caldecott Awards: A Guide to the Medal and Honor Books. Association for Library Service to Children, 2006. 130.
- Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present American Library Association