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Literature / Fox in Socks

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Fox. Socks. Knox. Box.
Fox in Socks. Knox in Box.
Fox in Socks on Knox in Box.

Can you read that quote above out loud? A bit of a tongue-twister, isn't it? Well, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Fox in Socks is a 1965 children's book by Dr. Seuss which, while not so well known as The Cat in the Hat or How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, is probably the clearest example of his approach to writing for his target audience. Specifically silliness, which, in the form of tongue-twisters and some absurd situations, is the vehicle used to teach children some simple words. Said Fox in Socks leads Knox out of the Box through lots of wordplay knots.

The book's climactic Tweedle Beetle sequence was animated for Seuss' The Hoober Bloob Highway television special.

This book provides examples of:

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Fox wears nothing but socks.
  • Alliterative Name: There is a guy named Luke Luck.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: Some talking bricks feature at the beginning, but unfortunately they get sick.
  • Butt-Monkey: Knox just wants the nonsense to stop but the Fox is having none of it.
  • Cartoon Creature:
    • Knox is a strange furry humanoid with doglike ears.
    • Bim and Ben are strange humanoids with catlike ears.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Many of the characters are just plain nuts:
    • Fox spends his time spouting tongue-twisters and trying to get Knox to say them.
    • Luke Luck and his duck spend their time licking lakes.
    • The Tweetle Beetles spend all their time fighting in bizarre situations.
    • Bim and Ben play with brooms as a hobby.
    • Sue and Slow Joe Crow make a habit out of sewing weird things to objects and people.
    • The Goo Goose chews blue goo all day.
  • Circular Reasoning: Luke takes licks in lakes his duck likes, and vice versa.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: The subtitle on the book cover reads: "This is a book you READ ALOUD to find out just how smart your tongue is. The first time you read it, don't go fast! This Fox is a tricky fox. He'll try to get your tongue in trouble."
  • Dedication: It is the first Beginner Book to have one. Mitzi Long was a friend of Seuss's, and Audrey Diamond was his second wife. The Mt. Soledad Linguistic Laboratories is a fictional place — Seuss always said Audrey was the only adult who could get through his tongue twisters on the first try.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Joe is slow, and a crow, but not bad.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The lower half of the socked-fox is over the title page.
  • The Gadfly: The Fox bounces around introducing more and more absurd tongue twister situations.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Slow Joe Crow wears no pants.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • The two protagonists call each other "Fox" and "Knox" but also "Mr. Fox" and "Mr. Knox", suggesting those are their surnames.
    • Slow Joe Crow is often referred to as "Crow".
  • Narrator: The book beings with a narrator explaining all the things seen, the way most Beginner Books do. ("Fox. Socks. Box. Knox.") That's followed by two pages where the fox's mouth is open but it is not immediately clear if he is speaking. When the chicks with bricks, blocks, and clocks come, the Fox and Knox unquestionably take over the speaking roles (starting with "Look, sir. Look, sir.") for the rest of the book.
  • No Name Given: We never find out the individual names of the Goo Goose, the Tweetle Beetles, the poodle, or Luke Luck's duck.
  • Only Sane Man: Mr. Knox has such a hard time keeping up with the Fox's tongue twisters. As the book goes on, he gets more and more fed up with how complicated they are.
    "I can't blab such blibber-blubber.
    My tongue isn't made of rubber."
  • The One Who Wears Shoes: Or socks, in this case. The Fox is only seen separate from the socks on the first page, and his feet are obscured.
  • Oral Fixation: Luke Luck and Luke's Duck lick lakes... for some obscure reason.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After enduring more tongue twisters than anyone would hope to endure, Knox decides hes had enough of the Fox during the final Tweedle Beetle tongue twister and shoves the Fox inside the bottle with the Beetles.
  • Rhyming Names: There's a bird named Slow Joe Crow.
  • Snicket Warning Label: "Take it slowly, this book is dangerous!" Also, on the last page, "Now is your tongue numb?"
  • Species Surname: Fox gets called Mr. Fox, as though that's his last name. There's also Slow Joe Crow.
  • The Stinger: The inside of the rear cover of the book says "Now is your tongue numb?"
  • There Is Only One Bed: The sick chicks all tocking together and the sick bricks all ticking together in their own respective beds.
  • Tongue Twister: The whole book provides examples, starting more simply but getting more elaborate over time.
  • Verbal Tic: Fox and Knox commonly refer to each other as "sir" throughout the book. This is most likely a carryover from a vaudeville shtick, where the comedy duo would call each other "Mr." so-and-so and "Mr." such-and-such, and "sir".