In the decades since the publication of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the title character has become almost as much a part of the holiday season as Santa Claus. Is this the ultimate irony, considering how much the Grinch despised the noisy festivities of the Whos, who lived just south of him in Whoville? Not really, because as we all know, after his heart grew a few sizes, the Grinch came to appreciate the joyous Whos, and even deigned to carve the roast beast at the Who feast.

In How the Grinch Stole Christmas! A 50th Anniversary Retrospective the tale appears in all its original two-color pen-and-ink glory as we learn in an accompanying essay by Seussiana collector Dr. Charles D. Cohen (no need to tell youngsters that he's also a dentist), the grinchy-green hue didn't come about till the 1966 animated TV special. A party edition of the story with special foil cover is also available.

Though Dr. Seuss, the alter-ego of Theodor Seuss Geisel, wrote the book in one month and then illustrated it in two, he had pondered the idea of an anti-Santa Claus and a Christmas without ribbons . . . tags . . . packages, boxes or bags for years. Cohen traces the evolution of the character and puts Geisel's work into context, pointing out, for example, that two other books about endangered Christmases were published in 1957: Phyllis McGinley's The Year Without Santa Claus, which had appeared in Good Housekeeping a year earlier; and Ogden Nash's The Christmas That Almost Wasn't. But only Seuss' creation has become a cultural phenomenon, leading to two other television specials, a film, a Broadway musical and, of course, countless allusions in headlines. Cohen runs through a list of TV references to the Grinch's yuletide antics, illustrating that as a figure of holiday redemption, he ranks up there with another baddie gone good: Ebenezer Scrooge.

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