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Literature / Bartholomew and the Oobleck

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Bartholomew and the Oobleck is a book written by Dr. Seuss in 1949.

King Derwin, tired of only the same four weather conditions, calls upon his magicians to make something new. But the new stuff — oobleck — turns out to be sticky as glue. Can page boy Bartholomew Cubbins save the kingdom before it's buried?

This book contains the following tropes:

  • Adapted Out: The trumpeter is completely absent from Marvin Miller's dramatization of the story.
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  • Adaptation Name Change: In Marvin Miller's dramatization, the king's name is Grimalken, not Derwin.
  • Assurance Backfire: Bartholomew tries to calm down the King by assuring him that no king before him has ever succeeded in ruling the sky. The King sees this as a challenge.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: If you think about it. A greedy person bored with ordinary life orders his magicians to summon new weather, which results in the arrival of an ambiguous, borderline-unstoppable phenomenon of potentially apocalyptic proportions. The only thing holding it back is the presence of An Aesop about saying sorry, and even then the closing lines about the current weather being the only things that ever should be is subtly sinister.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!:
    • Bartholomew, who already knows the oobleck's sticky nature, tries to tell the Royal Trumpeter not to touch it when some flies into his horn. The trumpeter has already grabbed it and winds up with his hand stuck inside the horn.
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    • The Captain of the Guard, trying to prove that the oobleck is harmless, decides to demonstrate by eating some. Bartholomew tries to stop him, but he's not fast enough.
  • Eye of Newt: The ingredients of the oobleck potion.
  • Named by the Adaptation: In the book, the royal cook is an unnamed character who only appears on one page. In Marvin Miller's dramatization, he is a more major character named Gussie.
  • Rain of Something Unusual: The king tires of only rain, sun, fog, and snow coming from the sky, so he orders his wizards to come up with something new. Unfortunately what they create is basically a rain of glue, which nearly destroys the kingdom before it is stopped.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: While Barholomew, the bell ringer, and the trumpeter see nothing but danger in the oobleck, neither the King nor the Captain of the Guards sees any danger whatsoever until the oobleck harms them.
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  • Rule of Three: Before trying to warn the people of the kingdom himself, Bartholomew talks to three adults: the bell ringer, the trumpeter, and the captain of the guards.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: The oobleck harms the male trumpeter, the male captain of the guards, the male cook, the male fiddlers...and the female laundress.
  • The Unapologetic: When Bartholomew snaps that he might at least say he's sorry for causing the rain of oobleck, King Derwin initially says that he's a king, and kings never apologize. Bartholomew chews him out and starts to leave, but then Derwin begins to cry and admits it is his fault and he is sorry.
  • Weird Weather: The book centres around a king who demands a new kind of weather of a group of wizards loosely attached to his court. He gets a rain of big balls of viscous goop called "oobleck" that rapidly floods the kingdom, trapping citizens and wildlife in its stickiness, as his long-suffering page boy Bartholomew Cubbins attempts to convince him to admit it was a mistake.
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