Friday, April 20, 2012

UNLESS . . . A Lesson From the Lorax for Earth Day

If movie theatres depended on people like me, they would go out of business in short order.  In the last year I have gone to a theatre to see a movie exactly three times--and two of those times were within one week to see the same movie!   Ever since the trailers for The Lorax started running on TV, I had promised my younger grandkids I would take them to see it, and I did one Saturday afternoon.  The next week my other grandkids were on spring break, and I asked them if they would also like to see a movie.  To my surprise, both the 7-year-old and 12-year-old grandsons also chose The Lorax.  The same movie twice in one week??  Well, why not?

Dr. Seuss's books were always favorites of my children, and I loved reading his tongue-twisting stories to them.  After seeing the movie the second time, I checked out The Lorax to refresh my memory of the book. 

In the original story, a young boy seeks out the story of the Lorax and goes to the Street of the Lifted Lorax where "the wind smells slow-and-sour when it blows."  There he finds the Once-ler who tells his sad story. Long ago, the Once-ler set out to make his way in the world and found an idyllic place filled with Truffula Trees.

But those trees!  Those trees!
Those Truffula Trees!
All my life I'd been searching
For trees such as these.
The touch of their tufts
Was much softer than silk.
And they had the sweet smell
Of fresh butterfly milk.

But the Once-ler's appreciation of the trees is not that of a nature-lover; instead he sees opportunity and begins chopping them down one by one to make Thneeds, "which everyone needs."   Soon the Lorax, "who speaks for the trees," appears and warns the Once-ler that the trees are there for everyone and not to cut them down.  The Once-ler, now a  successful entrepreneur, of course doesn't listen and continues to ravage the forest.  The charming inhabitants of this paradise slowly are forced to leave, and it isn't until the last tree falls that the Once-ler realizes how short-sighted he has been.  The Lorax, too, leaves--with some parting words--and the once-beautiful Truffula forest becomes a deserted wasteland.

The original story is quite short, and the movie's creators had to add additional story lines to make the movie long enough to be worth the price of admission.  The story of the Lorax is framed by another story featuring a young boy living in a futuristic society where everything is "plastic and safe."  Ted has a crush on a young girl who is a dreamer and wants to plant a real tree.  In order to impress Audrey, Ted seeks out the Once-ler (hearing the legend from his grandmother) in order to find a seed for a tree.  After hearing the story of the Lorax from the Once-ler who eventually gives him a precious Truffula seed, Ted returns home but faces many obstacles before that seed can be planted.

The residents of the movie's Thneedville have artificial "trees" that can change to a seasonal color--with the flip of a switch.  That hardly compares to Nature's transformation from this . . .

. . . to this in just a few short months.
Children of all ages will enjoy this movie. My eight-year-old granddaughter was thrilled that Ted and Audrey's voices were none other than Taylor Swift's and tween heartthrob Zac Efron's.  The older grandsons enjoyed the high-speed chase at the end featuring Ted's motorized unicycle and strange flying machines.  I enjoyed the extra storyline about the greedy mayor and CEO of Thneedville who sells bottled air(!) to gullible residents. All of us, though, most enjoyed the scenes from the original story.  The colors of the Truffula forest were even more vivid on the big screen.  And we were charmed by the antics of the cuddly Brown Bar-ba-loots, the Humming Fish, and the Swomee-Swans. 

Brown Bar-ba-lots cannot survive without Truffula fruits.
"The Lorax" is a great movie for all ages.  If it is still playing near you, I suggest you take your children or grandchildren to see it at once.  And if you don't have either, grab a couple of the neighbor's kids to enjoy the movie with you . . . although you probably ought to ask their parents' permission first:)

Without trees, little boys and dogs wouldn't have sticks to play with!
Last year when Michelle at The Sage Butterfly asked her readers to post about a book related to Earth Day that had made a lasting impression on them, I couldn't think of any.  I'm an avid reader, but I don't read much non-fiction.  But this year, I thought immediately of The Lorax.  The book's message of stewardship for this earth is clear for even the youngest reader/listener.  The movie, through its additional plot lines, adds an additional and timely warning about corporate greed that older viewers can appreciate. 

Most of all, though, it is the one word left behind by the Lorax on a small pile of rocks that sums up what Earth Day is all about :  "UNLESS" . . .

UNLESS someone like you
Cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better.
It's not.

Visit The Sage Butterfly for additional reflections on Earth Day, April 22.  Also, next Friday April 27 is Arbor Day.  Why not celebrate both by planting your own "Truffula" tree?


  1. I had no idea what The Lorax was all about. Your post is timely as our neighbors are cutting down beautiful large trees. Why? Because those rascals drop limbs and leaves. Imagine that. I have been so upset about this. Nothing I can do about it. Maybe I should get him a ticket to go to this movie. He probably wouldn't get it.

  2. That first photo is GORGEOUS! The Lorax sounds like a perfect book for Earth Day!

  3. What an absolutely wonderful selection! I had forgotten the message of The Lorax because I read it so long ago. I like the word 'unless.' It gently suggests that something needs to be done. It suggests hope. This is an excellent review of a timeless book with a timeless message. And I am looking forward to seeing the movie. Thank you for participating in The Earth Day Reading Project.

  4. Hi Rose, I confess I don't know the book or the film but I still enjoyed your beautifully written post and your lovely photos. I love trees, not only because they look lovely but because of course they play host to so much wonderful wildlife :-)

    Have a lovely weekend!

  5. Lisa, Definitely give him a ticket to the movie! How sad to have to watch big trees being cut down;I don't understand people like this at all.

    Tina, It IS the perfect book for Earth Day. I think it was published the year after the first Earth Day, in fact.

    Sage, I had forgotten this story, too, until I took the kids to see the movie. I had planned to write a review of it earlier, so when you posted your Earth Day project, it was perfect timing! I hope lots of children everywhere got to see the movie and will read the book.

  6. The trees! The trees! With trees such as these, you have created a beautiful photo essay. Thank you for such sights on this day.

  7. I also don't go to the cinema very often though their are some films that I want to see. I don't know the film or the book but I am interested now......
    I love that blossom and UNLESS quote.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  8. I am so glad to learn that the movie has the same message as the book - in fact, it sounds like they expanded upon it. When I read the big write-up about the school children asking to have a pro-Earth message added to the movie trailer, I was concerned that they'd completely changed the message of the original book. I should have had more faith!

  9. It was only a few short years ago that we were reading The Lorax to Emma, along with almost every other Seuss book --if you have to read the same book out loud over and over again, they might as well be fun to read, huh? :-)

    I think we only see about one movie a year in the theaters, but this one is on our list.

  10. I haven't seen the film because my kids weren't interested (they're at that difficult age). I guess when it comes out on DVD, I'll watch it alone. That is a great message.

  11. Rose, That was a delightful review and your photos made me smile~Loved seeing the sky through those flowering trees! gail

  12. Dear Rose,
    You have written a delightful photo essay and movie review. I have read the Lorax many times...glad to know the film is touching the young and the older...
    I am a tree are my grown children...I have run out of tree space but I can always find a spot for a shrub or two. Trees need understory and lots of bio-mass!
    Wonderful post!
    Sherry, who hugs trees

  13. Hi Rose, Great choice for the Earth Day Reading Challenge! The Lorax is a classic. The stories of childhood can have an enormous effect and I believe can inspire a whole generation to become good global citizens. I am glad that there are movies being made with themes like this.

  14. This was a wonderful review. Thanks.

  15. Songbird, I tried to get some photos of birds or butterflies in the trees to accompany this, but they wouldn't cooperate with me the other day:) I've been a tree-lover since childhood!

    Laurrie, Thank you for that clever comment. I can't imagine a world without trees.

    Maggie, This was the book and the movie I was thinking of when you posted about your careless-pruning neighbor. Perhaps you could hint to him/her to go see the movie!

    Gaia, I thought the parts added to Dr. Seuss' orginial story actually emphasized his message, which made me happy, too.

    Cassi Renee, My kids loved Dr. Seuss, and I loved reading them to them. Great speech exercises!

    MMD, I was surprised when the twelve-year-old also picked this movie--I think he was being nice to his brother:) But he did enjoy it.

    Gail, I love to take photos of tree branches set against these blue skies of spring!

    Sherry, I'm glad you also love this book; I hope that the movie makes many, many parents pick up the book and read it to their children. We need more tree-huggers!

    Jennifer, I totally agree. I'm not sure I emphasized these values with my own children so much, but I'm trying to make up for it by passing them on to my grandchildren.

    Sally, Glad you enjoyed it!

  16. Rose girl hello there and that was a great movie/story review for Earth Day ! .. of course I have to say I am in love with your crab apple trees they are stunning in any season .. your pictures are fantastic girl!
    We are having winter weather here yet again .. Spring is so darn menopausal I have no idea what will happen next!
    This was a fun post to read and see .. thank you !
    Joy : )

  17. Fabulous Rose,
    When I read posts like this, it gives me hope for the future.
    I shall certainly take Poppi and Riley to see it.

    Love the images of your trees lining the drive........

    I extended the woodland area and planted native wildflowers for Earth Day.
    A small gesture but one that will benefit bees and butterflies :)

  18. I've never read the Lorax before but I'm so glad I got to read this and find out. What a great story to tell kids, and I'm awful impressed the Dr. Seuss was writing about this so many years ago (although have we listened?)

  19. Excellent post, Rose! This is what it's all about! I love the photos that show the transformation of your trees from winter to spring--lovely in all seasons!

  20. Wonderful posting Rose. I love the Lorax, ol' Dr. Seuss has been a favorite of mine forever. I wasn't sure if the movie would be true to the book. Nice to hear about it.

  21. That settles it! We must take Grandson to see a movie. I think he's finally old enough to sit still long enough and enjoy it. Nothing better than a Dr. Seuss-inspired story. Thanks, Rose, for the great review and recommendation.

    This year, we've already planted a few new trees, and they're all fruit-bearing ones: a couple of Satsumas and a Russian mulberry tree. I had no idea that such a thing existed. Apparently, it's quite suitable for this climate.

  22. My girls loved "The Lorax," and it was always a favorite Dr. Seuss book at our house. Now it's a favorite of my 2-year-old granddaughter's. I've been planning to take her, and my 8-year-old grandson to see the movie - just haven't gotten to it yet between helping with the twins and working.

    The quote in your post is not only one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes, Rose, but one of my favorite quotes from any book. It's never been more true than it is now.

  23. My daughter took her just turned three yr old to see the Lorax as his first movie experience. Cuddled on his Mom"s lap at the end, he sleepily and happily exclaimed, "the trees are back." Thanks for writing a lovely review.

  24. Dr Seuss is definitely one of my favourites! I can recite Green Eggs and Ham and Bartholomew Cubbins and the Oobleck almost my heart.

    Lovely post. I didn't know the story of the Lorax and will certainly make a point of taking my grands.

    Love your spring blossoms. Garden season once again. Yippeee!

  25. Joy, Crabapple time is my favorite, too. We are having cooler temperatures again, too--like me, the plants don't know if they want a pile of blankets on or not:)

    Cheryl, Your grands will enjoy this movie. Your woodland wildflower walk sounds lovely!

    Marguerite, I think it's neat, too, that Dr. Seuss was passing on this message so long ago--you know he wasn't jumping on any "green" bandwagon!

    Beth, Thanks; I like that message, too, that it's up to each one of us.

    Janet, The movie has gotten excellent reviews, and I'm glad, too, that the changes/additions made stayed true to his original theme.

    W2W, Yes, there is a "waiting period" before taking kids to see movies:) I'm curious to see your mulberry trees--the ones we have here grow wild and aren't very welcome, I'm afraid.

    Linda, Your older grandkids are the perfect age to enjoy this movie. Dr. Seuss was a wise man, wasn't he?

    Susan, I love your grandson's remark--what a sweet story!

    Wendy, Dr. Seuss was one of our favorites, too; I'm glad he's still so popular today. Yes, it's gardening season again, though often too cool and too windy to do much outside.

  26. WE haven't read much Dr Seuss but I'll look out for that book and maybe the film - if it gets over here.


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. I'll try to reply here, but I'll definitely return the visit.