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The Lorax

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The Lorax
The Lorax.jpg
Author(s) Dr. Seuss
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Children's literature
Publisher Random House
Publication date 1971
Media type Print ( Hardcover and paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0394823370
Preceded by I Can Write—By Me, Myself
Followed by Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!

The Lorax is a children's book, written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1971. It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax (a "mossy, bossy" man-like creature resembling an emperor tamarin), who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. As in most of Dr. Seuss's works, most of the creatures mentioned are original to the book.

The book is commonly recognized as a fable concerning industrialized society, using the literary element of personification to give life to industry as the Once-ler (whose face is never shown in all of the story's illustrations) and to the environment as the Lorax. It has become a popular metaphor for those concerned about the human impact on the environment. The book is featured on the inside layout of Rage Against the Machine's album Evil Empire. The Lorax is also referenced in activist musician Michael Franti's song "East To The West" on the album Yell Fire!.

Plot overview

One night, a boy comes to a desolate corner of town to visit the Once-ler and learn about the Lorax. The Once-ler recounts how he first arrived where they now stand, then a beautiful forest of Truffula Trees, colorful woolly trees that were spread throughout the area and supported various fantastical creatures. The Once-ler chopped down a tree and used its foliage to knit a Thneed, an odd-looking but versatile garment that he insisted "everyone needs." A strange man called the Lorax emerged from the stump and protested, but the Once-ler ignored him, and, spurred by greed, began a huge Thneed-making business, much to the Lorax's distress.

The skies gradually grew darker and more polluted, forcing the local animals to leave the area. The Once-ler dismissed the Lorax's pleadings until the last Truffula Tree was chopped down, leaving the Once-ler alone with the Lorax, who picked himself up by the "seat of his pants" and floated away through a hole in the smog, leaving behind only a small pile of rocks with the word "Unless" inscribed into them.

The Once-ler then reveals to the boy that he has one last Truffula seed left, which he gives to him with instructions to start a new forest so that "the Lorax and all of his friends may come back."


The Lorax is arguably Seuss's most controversial work. In 1989, a small school district in California kept the book on a reading list for second graders, though some in the town claimed the book was unfair to the logging industry. Several timber industry groups sponsored the creation of a book called The Truax, offering a logging-friendly perspective to an anthropomorphic tree known as the Guardbark. Just as in The Lorax, the book consists of an argument between two people. The logging industry representative emphasizes their efficiency and re-seeding efforts whereas the Guardbark, a straw man of the environmentalist movement much as the Once-ler is for big business, refuses to listen and repeatedly lashes out.

The line "I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie" was removed more than fourteen years after the story was published after two research associates from the Ohio Sea Grant Program wrote to Seuss about the clean-up of Lake Erie. The line remains in the DVD release of the special.


The book was made into an animated musical television special, directed by Hawley Pratt, produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and starring the voice talents of Eddie Albert and Bob Holt. It was first aired by CBS on February 14, 1972. The line about Lake Erie was spoken by one of the Humming-Fish as they marched out of the river at the foot of the Once-ler's factory. It remains in DVD releases of the show, even though the line was removed from the book.

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