All Hallows’ Eve is upon us once more and that can only mean that we are soon to be surrounded by all types of monsters, ghoulies and manifestations. Fear not, as many of these unsettling creatures will actually be children dressed up on another adventure trick or treating. But what about that pair of seemingly malevolent trousers that walk by themselves? That is no child, but a pair of haunted kecks. Run, run, run, but perhaps if you have them a friendly hello these pants may be nicer than you think?
On a dark night, as our hero travels along a long and lonesome road he passes the most oddest of all sights – a pair of disembodied trousers walking themselves. Like any sane person, the hero runs off, but he keeps seeing the trousers. There is only one solution for a situation like this, buck up the courage and go and say hello. What’s the worst that could happen?
Dr Seuss always specialised in crazy flights of fancy, but the trousers in ‘‘What Was I Scared Off?’’ are actually amongst the most bizarre things he invented. This is because this book is one of his most grounded pieces. It is set in his usual Seussian world, with his usual Seussian prose, but the actual narrative is quite dark and spooky, with few twists. This is certainly a Halloween type of book as our hero is a little terrified of what the trousers represent. It is just very odd (and so like Dr Seuss) that the monster in his horror story should be phantom pants.
To reflect the darkness of the tale, this is one of Dr Seuss’ darkest illustrated books. There are lots of greens and blacks; none of the bright colours you will be used to. It has the effect of making this silly story a little bit unsettling. Thankfully, the finale shows that you should not judge a pair of trousers by their coveralls. What makes this particular special edition special is the glow in the dark technology. Some of the white elements glow if you store some light into them. To get the best of the effect you need to read the book in the dark though, which you can imagine if a challenge. Therefore, the glow in the dark is a fun extra, but not that easy to use.
For fans of Dr Seuss, ‘‘What’’ is a curio. The prose is as good as ever, but the story is a little too linear to be a real classic. The narrative betrays the books roots as part of a collection. As one of several spooky and short outings it would work brilliantly, on its own it feels a little like an anomaly. But, what an anomaly. Even when being a little too bizarre by his own odd standards, Dr Seuss books remain fantastic.