If I Ran the Circus

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If I Ran the Circus
If I Ran the Circus cover.jpg
First edition cover
AuthorDr. Seuss
CountryUnited States
GenreChildren's literature
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
1956 (renewed 1984)
Media typePrint (Hardcover and paperback)
Preceded byOn Beyond Zebra! 
Followed byThe Cat in the Hat 

If I Ran the Circus is a children's book by Dr. Seuss, published in 1956 by Random House.

Like The Cat in the Hat, or the more political Yertle the Turtle, If I Ran the Circus develops a theme of cumulative fantasy leading to excess. The overt social commentary found in the Sneetches and the Zax demonstrates that Dr. Seuss was fascinated by the errors and excesses to which humans are prone,[1] and If I Ran the Circus also examines this interest, though more subtly and comically, given its earlier genesis.

Plot overview[edit]

Behind Mr. Sneelock's ramshackle store, there's an empty lot. Little Morris McGurk is convinced that if he could just clear out the rusty cans, the dead tree, and the old cars, nothing would prevent him from using the lot for the amazing, world-beating, Circus McGurkus. The more elaborate Morris' dreams about the circus become, the more they depend on the sleepy-looking and innocent Sneelock, who stands outside his ramshackle store sucking on a pipe, oblivious to the fate that awaits him in the depths of Morris's imagination. He doesn't yet know that he'll have to dispense 500 gallons of lemonade, be lassoed by a Wily Walloo, wrestle a Grizzly-Ghastly, and ski down a slope dotted with giant cacti. But if his performance is up to McGurkian expectations, then "Why, ladies and gentlemen, youngsters and oldsters, your heads will quite likely spin right off your shouldsters!" And Sneelock won't mind it one bit because he likes to help out. But by the end of Morris's fantasy, Sneelock is casting a disapproving eye at him.


  1. ^ Fensch, Thomas (ed.) (1997). Of Sneetches and Whos and the Good Dr. Seuss. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-0388-8. OCLC 37418407.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)