Dr. Seuss wrote more than 60 books, many of them selling 10 million or copies or more over the past several decades. While “On Beyond Zebra!” has never been as popular as “The Cat in the Hat” or “Green Eggs and Ham”, it is one of his better ones, in my opinion.
I don’t actually recall how we got this added to our collection, but it was probably a gift. And of all the Dr. Seuss books on our shelf, this is the one the kids pull out most frequently. “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” is fun, and we read that to the kids when they are very young, but they lose interest in that once they begin learning to read on their own.
And while I frequently push for titles such as “Bartholomew and the Oobleck”, that just doesn’t resonate with the kids as much as “On Beyond Zebra!”
What is it
The book is typical of most of Dr. Seuss’s books, where each page is a nearly standalone depiction of a whimsical creature in a whimsical location, with a few lines of verse. In the case of this book, however, each page is also devoted to an exotic novel letter. That is, the book suggests there are letters that come after ‘Z’, which are needed to spell these creatures and their locations.
Who is it for
“On Beyond Zebra!” is ideal for kids in the first few years of learning to read, but also appeals to older kids who enjoy wordplay. I would say ages 4 to 8
What Kids Like
The kids like the exotic creatures, such as the cow with 98 udders or the “Floob-Boober-Bab-Boober-Bubs” that float around as living stepping stones. They also like the invented letters. For new readers, the standard alphabet is already strange and foreign, so introducing them to ever stranger, more foreign letters actually gives them confidence about the standard letters that they do know.
What Parents Like
It’s a book that’s fun to read, and the images are so fantastical that I’m able to maintain my interest. And more than many other books, “On Beyond Zebra!” inspires questions about words and animals.
What the Critics Think
Oliver Jeffers has
Some of Dr. Suess’s books have not aged well, with depictions of people or cultures or places that are now seen as offensive. This book has none of that, however.
Someone has taken the time to add the “Seussian” letters of “On Beyond Zebra!” to the Unicode standard: http://www.evertype.com/standards/csur/seuss.html