How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
|November 24, 1957 (renewed 1985)|
|Preceded by||If I Ran the Circus|
|Followed by||The Cat in the Hat|
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a children's story by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel written in rhymed verse with illustrations by the author. It was published as a book by Random House in 1957, and at approximately the same time in an issue of Redbook. The book criticizes the commercialization of Christmas. Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the book one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". It was one of the "Top 100 Picture Books" of all time in a 2012 poll by School Library Journal. In 2000 the book was turned into a film starring Jim Carrey, The Grinch.
The Grinch is a bitter, grouchy, cave-dwelling creature with a heart "two sizes too small" who lives on snowy Mount Crumpit, a steep high mountain just north of Whoville, home of the merry and warm-hearted Whos. His only companion is his unloved, but loyal dog, Max. From his perch high atop, the Grinch can hear the noisy Christmas festivities that take place in Whoville. Annoyed, he decides to stop Christmas from coming by stealing their presents, trees, and food for their Christmas feast. He crudely disguises himself as Santa Claus, and forces poor Max, disguised as a reindeer (by tying an antler from a deer plaque on the wall to his head), to drag a sleigh to Whoville, where he slides down the chimney and steals all of the Whos' Christmas presents, the Christmas tree, and the log for their fire. (He is briefly interrupted in his burglary by Cindy Lou, a little Who girl, but concocts a crafty lie to effect his escape from her home.) The Grinch then takes his sleigh to the top of Mount Crumpit, and prepares to dump all of the presents into the abyss. As dawn breaks, he expects to hear the Whos' bitter and sorrowful cries, but is confused to hear them singing a joyous Christmas song instead. He puzzles for a moment until it dawns upon him that perhaps Christmas is more than presents and feasting: "Maybe Christmas, he thought, means a little bit more." The Grinch's shrunken heart suddenly grows three sizes larger. The reformed Grinch returns all of the Whos' presents and trimmings and is warmly invited to the Whos' feast, where he has the honor of carving the Roast Beast.
Creation and publication
Dr. Seuss began work on How the Grinch Stole Christmas around the beginning of 1957. He had recently completed The Cat in the Hat and was in the midst of founding Beginner Books with Phyllis and Bennett Cerf and his wife, Helen Palmer Geisel. Helen, who had ongoing medical problems and had suffered a small stroke in April 1957, nevertheless acted as an unofficial editor, as she had with previous Dr. Seuss books. Geisel wrote the book quickly and was mostly finished with it within a few weeks. Biographers Judith and Neil Morgan wrote, "It was the easiest book of his career to write, except for its conclusion." According to Geisel,
"I got hung up getting the Grinch out of the mess. I got into a situation where I sounded like a second-rate preacher or some biblical truisim... Finally in desperation... without making any statement whatever, I showed the Grinch and the Whos together at the table, and made a pun of the Grinch carving the 'roast beast.' ... I had gone through thousands of religious choices, and then after three months it came out like that."
By mid-May 1957, the book was finished and in the mail to the Random House offices in New York. In June, the Geisels took a month-long vacation to Hawaii, where he checked and returned the book's galley proof.
The book debuted in December 1957, in both a book version published by Random House and in an issue of Redbook magazine. Geisel dedicated the book to Theodor "Teddy" Owens, the one-year-old son of his niece, Peggy Owens.
M.S. Libby, writing in the New York Herald Tribune, compared the book favorably to Dr. Seuss's earlier works: "His peculiar and original genius in line and word is always the same, yet, so rich are the variations he plays on his themes, always fresh and amusing." Kirkus Reviews wrote, "Youngsters will be in transports over the goofy gaiety of Dr. Seuss's first book about a villain." The reviewer called the Grinch "easily the best Christmas-cad since Scrooge." Ellen Lewis Buell, in her review in The New York Times, praised the book's handling of its moral, as well as its illustrations and verse. She wrote,
"Even if you prefer Dr. Seuss in a purely antic mood, you must admit that if there's a moral to be pointed out, no once can do it more gaily. The reader is swept along by the ebullient rhymes and the weirdly zany pictures until he is limp with relief when the Grinch reforms and, like the latter, mellow with good feelings."
The review for The Saturday Review of Literature stated: "The inimitable Dr. Seuss has brought off a fresh triumph in his new picture book... The verse is as lively and the pages are as bright and colorful as anyone could wish." The reviewer suggested that parents and older siblings reading the book to young children would also enjoy its moral and humor. Charlotte Jackson of the San Francisco Chronicle called the book "wonderful fantasy, in the true Dr. Seuss manner, with pictures in the Christmas colors."
Some writers, including Dr. Seuss himself, have made a connection between the Grinch and Dr. Seuss. In the story, the Grinch laments that he has had to put up with the Whos' celebration of Christmas for 53 years. As both Fensch and Charles Cohen note, Dr. Seuss was 53 when he wrote and published the book. Dr. Seuss himself asserted the connection in an article in the December 1957 edition of Redbook: "I was brushing my teeth on the morning of the 26th of last December when I noticed a very Grinch-ish countenance in the mirror. It was Seuss! So I wrote about my sour friend, the Grinch, to see if I could rediscover something about Christmas that obviously I'd lost." Seuss's step-daughter, Lark Dimond-Cates, stated in a speech in 2003, "I always thought the Cat... was Ted on his good days, and the Grinch was Ted on his bad days." Cohen notes that Seuss drove a car with a license plate that read "GRINCH".
Thomas Fensch notes that the Grinch is the first adult and the first villain to be a main character in a Dr. Seuss book.
- Chuck Jones famously adapted the story as an animated special in 1966, featuring narration by Boris Karloff, who also provided the Grinch's voice, and songs with lyrics written by Geisel himself, set to music composed by Albert Hague, many of which were sung by Thurl Ravenscroft.
- In 1975, Zero Mostel narrated an LP record of the story.
- In 1992, Random House Home Video released an updated animated version of the book narrated by Walter Matthau.
- The book was translated into Latin as Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit: How the Grinch Stole Christmas in Latin by Jennifer Morrish Tunberg with the assistance of Terence O. Tunberg in 1997.
- A musical stage version was produced by the Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, in 1998. It also was produced on Broadway and a limited-engagement US tour in 2008.
- An audiobook of the book read by Rik Mayall was released in 1999.
- The book was adapted into a live-action film in 2000 starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch and newcomer Taylor Momsen as Cindy Lou Who.
- The Grinch character was reprised in Seuss's Halloween Is Grinch Night and The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat and he and Max also appear in the children's show, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss.
- In 2009, an interactive e-book version was released for the iPhone.
- Illumination Entertainment is developing a 3D animated feature film, with Pete Candeland set to direct it. It is scheduled to be released on November 17, 2017.
- Zielinski, Stan (2006-06-20). "Collecting Children's Picturebooks: Dr. Seuss — Redbook Magazine Original Stories". 1stedition.net. Retrieved 2010-09-09.
- Nel 2004, p. 130.
- National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved August 19, 2012.
- Bird, Elizabeth (July 6, 2012). "Top 100 Picture Books Poll Results". School Library Journal "A Fuse #8 Production" blog. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
- Morgan 1995, p. 157–158.
- MacDonald 1988, p. 92.
- Nel 2004, p. 118.
- Fensch 2001, p. 128–129.
- Fensch 2001, p. 126.
- Cohen 2004, p. 330.
- Hart, William B. (December 1957). "Between the Lines". Redbook. as quoted in Cohen 2004, p. 330
- Dimond-Cates, Lark (October 27, 2003). (Speech). United States Postal Service's unveiling of Theodor Seuss Geisel stamp. Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, Springfield, Massachusetts. as quote in Cohen 2004, p. 321
- Broida, Rick. "'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' dazzles on iPhone". Cnet. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
- Kit, Borys (February 7, 2013). "'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' Remake in the Works at Universal". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- "Universal Dates 'Despicable Me 3,' New 'Grinch Who Stole Christmas'". The Hollywood Reporter. 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2014-01-16.
- Cohen, Charles (2004). The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel. Random House. ISBN 978-0375822483.
- Fensch, Thomas (2001). The Man Who Was Dr. Seuss. Woodlands: New Century Books. ISBN 0-930751-11-6.
- MacDonald, Ruth (1988). Dr. Seuss. Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-7524-2.
- Morgan, Neil; Morgan, Judith Giles (1996). Dr. Seuss Mr. Geisel: a biography. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80736-7.
- Nel, Philip (2004). Dr. Seuss: American Icon. Continuum Publishing. ISBN 0-8264-1434-6.
- Pease, Donald E. (2010). Theodor Seuss Geisel. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-532302-3.