Sand sculpture of the Grinch in Key West, Florida, December 2010.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a 1957 children's fiction book in verse, written and illustrated by Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. The main character in the story, the Grinch, is a monster who hates Christmas and tries, without success, to put a stop to it coming. At the end of the story, the Grinch, like Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, has a change of heart and enthusiastically embraces the holiday.

The book contains sixty-nine pages, most of which are dominated by the illustrations (in three colors; black, white and red). The book can easily be read by a parent to a child in one sitting. However, the book uses more sophisticated vocabulary and requires a higher reading level than the 1960 Seuss book Green Eggs and Ham and the 1957 book The Cat in the Hat. Consequently, children who have enjoyed those books, althought they should have no difficulty understanding How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, may struggle to read it on their own.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was adapted in 1966 as an animated TV special, directed by Chuck Jones and narrated by Boris Karloff, and in 2000 as a live action movie, directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey as the title character.


Ted Geisel NYWTS

1957 photograph of Dr. Seuss drawing illustrations for How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The monstruous Grinch lives alone, accept for his dog Max, in a cave high above the town of Whoville. The Whos, the inhabitants of Whoville, love Christmas but the Grinch hates everything about the holiday, especially the noise that children make when they play with their presents and the sound of the Whos singing. Possible reasons for the Grinch's intense dislike of Christmas may be a problem in his head, shoes that are too tight or a heart that is two sizes too small.

Having decided that he can put up with Christmas no longer, the Grinch decides to steal it. On Christmas Eve, he makes a Santa Claus costume, ties an antler to his dog's head, so that he can pass as a reindeer, and goes into Whoville on a sleigh, carrying a large empty sack. The Grinch enters every house in town by going down the chimney. He steals all the presents and all the decorations from each house and empties each house's refrigerator of every piece of food. In one house, a small girl, Cindy-Lou Who, seems him stuffing the Christmas tree up the chimney and asks why he is doing so. The Grinch, pretending to be Santa Claus, tells her that one of the trees lights is defective, he is taking it to his workshop to fix it and will return it later.

Children reading The Grinch

Children reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas! in November 2007.

After having robbed every house in Whoville, early on the morning of Christmas Day, the Grinch goes to the top of a mountain, intending to throw everything that he has stolen off the top of it. Before he does so, he decides to listen to the sobbing that he expects to be coming from Whoville when the Whos discover that Christmas has been stolen. To his surprise, he does not hear the Whos crying, he hears them singing instead. The Grinch is confused. He believed that stealing presents, decorations and food would prevent Christmas from coming but it came anyway. After thinking about it for a long time, the Grinch comes to the conclusion that Christmas cannot be bought in a store and that it has a greater significance.

According to the Whos, the Grinch's heart suddenly grows by three sizes. He rushes back to town to return everything that he has stolen and enthusiastically joins in the town's Christmas dinner.

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