“Gertrude McFuzz” by Dr. Seuss

“There once was a girl-bird named Gertrude McFuzz
And she had the smallest plain tail ever was.
One droopy-droop feather. That’s all that she had.
And, oh! That one feather made Gertrude so sad” (Seuss 1).

Miss Gertrude McFuzz is one of many Dr. Seuss creations. She is an insecure little bird with a one-feathered tail, and what male bird would be attracted to a birdie such as her? Gertrude stares with longing at the tail of Miss Lolla-Lee-Lou. Cringing with jealousy because she wants two feathers too. (Watch out, Doctor! Make way for the rhymes I can cook up!) For me, Gertrude’s story is relatable.
Back when I was in seventh grade, we performed Seussical Jr – a mixture of many Dr. Seuss characters into one fantastic musical with a reminiscent plot. I was not even going to try out but I finally convinced myself to do it. What do you know? I landed one of the most important roles in the entire musical: little Miss Gertrude McFuzz.

Looking back on that particular time of my life, I find that the obvious similarity between Gertrude and me obviously was not obvious to me until now. Seventh grade was the year where I realized that I was not wearing the “right” clothes. Surrounding me were these perfectly made-up girls wearing skin-tight name-brand clothing, and then there was me: the girl with the curly hair (which apparently was frowned upon for everyday use), no make-up, chewed fingernails, loose-fitting jeans, and a simple tee shirt that I surely must have gotten on clearance at Old Navy. (I am a bargain shopper, what can I say?)


“She got very jealous. She frowned. And she pouted.
Then one day she got awfully mad and she shouted:
‘This just isn’t fair! I have one! She has two!
I MUST have a tail just like Lolla-Lee-Lou!’” (Seuss 2).


So, I bought those clothes. I traded forty dollars for two skimpy tops, and then my piggy bank was empty. For about a year I spent every dollar I earned or received on the “acceptable” clothing, and then I suddenly stopped caring. Once Gertrude took one of those pills to make her tail grow, she was greedy for more. She never stopped wanting. Like Gertrude, I had become greedy. I craved money just so I could put it directly into the cash register at Hollister. I lost myself in the process.
“Then she spread out her wings to take off from the ground,
But, with all those feathers, she weighed ninety-pound!
She yanked and she pulled and she let out a squawk,
But that bird couldn’t fly! Couldn’t run! Couldn’t walk!” (Seuss 11).


Gertrude’s insatiable appetite for those pills was fueled by the desire to meet and compete with Miss Lolla-Lee-Lou; and eventually win. She never stopped wanting more. Two… three… four… seven… even nine feathers just would not cut it. The story of “Gertrude McFuzz” presents a very important theme in life. Appreciating the little things (or in Gertrude’s case, the one-feathered tails) is important.
It is coincidental that I played Gertrude McFuzz in our production of Seussical Jr. Gertrude’s story is a metaphor for what I went through in my last two years of Middle School. I went to the other side and found that though the grass is greener, I am perfectly content with my side. Sometimes the sprinklers fail and draughts occur, but too much green is just too perfect. I enjoy a brown patch every now and then.
“And, finally, when all of the pulling was done,
Gertrude, behind her, again had just one…
That one little feather that she had as a starter.
But now that’s enough, because now she is smarter” (Seuss 15).

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12 thoughts on ““Gertrude McFuzz” by Dr. Seuss”

  1. Nicely put. I enjoyed this “Thanks.” I hope that others “stumble across” this as well. Self image is highly overrated in some respects and underrated in others.

  2. My son had the Gertrude McFuzz book when he was a child–what a great little story. I’ve tried to find the book for my 3 year old grandson; does anyone know where I can find one? Thanks

  3. I work with a group of ladies 16 to 24 and tomorrow we will be using Gertrude McFuzz as a writing prompt as a way to explore how our external and internal worlds collide. How we can express ourselves without exposing ourselves.
    We are having a Writer’s Workshop weekly and I am excited to share Ms. McFuzz’s dilemma.

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