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Literature / The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Tales

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The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Tales is a 2011 collection of stories published posthumously under the name of Dr. Seuss. The collection consists of seven short, illustrated stories:

  1. "The Bippolo Seed": A duck named McKluck finds a Bippolo seed, which will grow anything a person asks for on its branches. But a passing cat's suggestion that he wish for more quickly causes trouble.
  2. "The Bear, The Rabbit, and the Zinniga-Zanniga": A rabbit cornered by a hungry bear lies and convinces him he's dying from the lack of one eyelash, which might be able to be remedied by a Zinniga-Zanniga Tree...
  3. "Gustav the Goldfish": A boy who feeds his goldfish too much quickly discovers he's gotten in over his head.
  4. "Tadd and Todd": Tadd, wanting to look different from his twin brother Todd, uses an increasing number of methods to ensure people will know which is which.
  5. "Steak for Supper": A boy accidentally attracts a growing number of creatures when he lets it out of the bag that his family has steak for supper every Saturday.
  6. "The Strange Shirt Spot": A boy struggles to get rid of an unusual stain.
  7. "The Great Henry McBride": Young Henry McBride muses on what to be when he grows up.

This book contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: In "Steak for Supper", the boy's father demands him to "button [his] lip" and not speak in public and the boy imagines him "whal[ing him] on the seat of [his] pants" and both parents sending him to reform school.
  • Aerith and Bob: The identical twins are named Todd and Tadd.
  • An Aesop: The moral of "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga" is that brains are more important than size.
  • Alliterative Title: "Gustav the Goldfish", "Tadd and Todd", and "Steak for Supper".
  • Always Identical Twins: Todd and Tadd are identical twins. The story kicks off when Tadd decides to look different.
  • Animals Not to Scale: McKluck is only slightly smaller than a large housecat.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: When the boy feeds Gustav too much fish food, he grows and grows until he's whale-sized and the boy has to call in the salesman for help.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The bear from "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga" wants to eat the rabbit.
  • Brains Evil, Brawn Good: Inverted in "The Bear, the Rabbit, and the Zinniga-Zanniga." The huge bear who tries to eat the tiny rabbit is the villain, and the intelligent rabbit who tricks the stupid bear into thinking that his missing eyelash is killing him is the innocent protagonist.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": Tadd and Todd both wear a "T" on their shirts.
  • Coordinated Clothes: Before the beginning of the story, Tadd and Todd usually wear the exact same clothing. Tadd tries to differentiate himself by carrying/wearing a large number of different items, only to find that Todd has tracked down the exact same items. At the end, they're back to wearing matching clothes.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: One of McKluck's wishes is for olives stuffed with cherries.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The boy from "The Strange Shirt Spot" describes the gunk on his shirt as "gooey goo".
  • Does Not Like Spam: The creatures from "Steak for Supper" all hate stew and run off in disgust at the thought of it.
  • Faint in Shock: Discussed in "Steak for Supper" when the boy thinks that upon seeing the creatures his "mother would faint and [his] father would roar".
  • Grows on Trees: The paper that McKluck finds along with the Bippolo seed says that the tree will grow anything the owner wishes over the seed after burying it. The cat begins talking him into considering how to get the most out of this, resulting in them brainstorming things like fish, umbrellas, and other crazy things to ask.
  • Happy Dance: At the end of "The Bippolo Seed", McKluck "whirls and twirls" due to excitement about being rich... and unfortunately drops the seed.
  • Induced Hypochondria: In "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga", the rabbit sees that the bear has one eyelash fewer on his right eye. He escapes death by lying that this lack of an eyelash is a serious condition and tricks him into thinking he has symptoms like a lopsided head and a "wuzzy" brain.
  • Inevitably Broken Rule: When Mr. VanBuss sells Gustav the goldfish to the family, he warns them not to feed him more than a little, because it might have consequences. For some time, the boy follows this rule, but he eventually breaks it out of pity for the fish. Gustav starts growing larger and larger.
  • In-Series Nickname: Gustav is sometimes known as "Gus".
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Discussed when Henry wants to be a rabbit farmer, doctor, radio broadcaster, seal trainer, and cowboy all at once.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Discussed in "Steak for Supper" when the boy fears he'd "get whaled on the seat of his pants" for bringing home the strange creatures.
  • Long List: McKluck's list at the end of "The Bippolo Seed" about the things he and the cat will sell has twenty-four items.
  • Looking a Miffed Animal in the Mouth: In "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga", the bear prepares to eat the rabbit. The rabbit looks up, realises he's in trouble, but luckily he quickly observes that the bear has nine eyelashes on one eye and ten on the other. He exploits that fact by pretending that having one eyelash too few is a serious, potentially fatal, situation to be in. The trope in general is subverted in that the bear is simply looking for something to eat, without viciousness.
  • Loose Lips: "Steak for Supper" starts with a boy mentioning loudly that his family has steak every Saturday. After being rescued from the consequences by a last-minute change in menu, he takes more care about what he says.
  • Make a Wish: The Bippolo Seed will grow a tree that will produce whatever the owner wishes.
  • Meaningful Echo: At the beginning of "Gustav the Goldfish", the boy says that the salesman, Mr. VanBuss, told him not to feed Gustav too much or something unspecified might happen. At the end of the story, the boy repeats the line and says that now he knows what would happen.
  • Mundane Wish: At the beginning of "The Bippolo Seed", McKluck notes that he doesn't need much and decides to ask for enough duck food for a week. The cat convinces him that that's too little and he should wish for more.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In "The Great Henry McBride", Henry originally decides he wants to raise rabbits, but quickly says he can't settle with only one job and begins adding on other things he wants to be at the same time, like a radio broadcaster, a doctor, a seal trainer, and a cowboy.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The boy feeds Gustav more than he's supposed to out of compassion for the seemingly hungry fish, and winds up in big trouble thanks to Gustav growing out of control.
  • No Name Given: The cat from "The Bippolo Seed", the rabbit and bear from "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga", Gustav the goldfish's owner, Todd and Tadd's pets, the boys from "Steak for Supper" and "The Strange Shirt Spot", the shirt spot boy's cat are not named.
  • Race-Name Basis: Due to the cat not knowing McKluck's name, he calls him, "Duck".
  • Sapient Eat Sapient: The title characters from "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga" are both sapient (even though the bear's a little dumb) and yet the bear wants to eat the rabbit.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story:
    • "The Bippolo Seed": McKluck loses the seed during a greed-induced Happy Dance, without ever getting even so much as his mundane wish for duck food from it.
    • "Tadd and Todd": Tadd's efforts to differentiate himself from his brother come to naught as Todd matches him item for item. However, Tadd does ultimately decide it's not so bad being twins.
    • "The Strange Shirt Spot": The boy transfers the spot he got on his shirt from item to item, trying to get rid of it, only for it to wind up right back on his shirt.
  • Silent Snarker: Gustav can't talk, but he moves around in a way which his owner interprets as blaming him for feeding him too much, even though he was the one who seemed to ask for more food in the first place.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Tadd and Todd have names that both begin with T (and are in fact identical except for one letter).
  • Unnamed Parent: The boys from "Gustav the Goldfish", "Tadd and Todd", "Steak for Supper", and "The Strange Shirt Spot" have unnamed mothers, and the boys from "Gustav the Goldfish" and "Steak for Supper" also have unnamed fathers.
  • The Unreveal: Neither the boy not the reader ever find out how Mr. VanBuss got Gustav back to normal.