Oh, the wonderful things
Mr. Brown can do!
He can go like a cow.
He can go MOO MOO
Mr. Brown can do it.
How about you?

Children's book, written by Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) in 1970. It was subtitled "Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises."

There's nothing at all to the plot. Mr. Brown is an older gentleman, balding, with a Fuller brush mustache. He wears a brown suit, a blue tie, and a floppy brown hat. Mr. Brown has one singular talent: he can make awesome noises.

He can, as suggested in the book's title, moo like a cow, but that's really only the simplest of his skills. In the pages that follow, Mr. Brown demonstrates his mastery of mimicry by impersonating everything from bees, roosters, and trains to frying eggs, cats drinking milk, and blaring horns.

Seuss' talent for creative (if not utterly madcap) onomatopoeia is certainly in evidence here, with sound effects provided for falling rain (Dibble Dibble Dopp Dopp), a goldfish kiss (pip!), and even a hippopotamus chewing gum (GRUM GRUM GRUM!).

Seuss also understood that kids love crazy noises, and the only thing better than reading crazy noises is actually making crazy noises. So every few pages, Seuss summarizes the crazy noises Mr. Brown has mastered and encourages his readers to make those crazy noises, too! And if you can make that crazy noise with your mouth, surely you can read that noise on the page, too, right? See that letter that starts off the cow's noise? What other words start like that?

This was one of my favorite books when I was little, primarily because I loved hearing my father read it to me at bedtime. He didn't go for any sedate reading -- he'd ham it up good. Every "MOO" and "TICK TOCK" and "BUZZ BUZZ" and "KLOPP KLOPP" were delivered loudly and enthusiastically. The "GRUM GRUM" of the gum-chewing hippo was accompanied by appropriate chewing motions. Even the more subtle "whisper whisper" and "pip" sounds were performed with quiet gusto.

Best of all: the end of the book. Thunder and lightning. "BOOM BOOM BOOM" and "SPLATT SPLATT SPLATT" Lightning, of course, doesn't make a noise aside from thunder, but my dad still carried it off. Roof-raising shouts. Arms and legs flailing wildly. I'd laugh so hard, I'd start hiccuping and burping at the same time. I think that's why he did it -- just to watch me get so overwhelmed with laughter.

Of course, after those readings, I was way too keyed up to sleep. But who needs sleep when you've got gum-chewing hippos grumming through your brain, right?

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