Gertrude McFuzz

* Part of Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories

Author: Dr. Seuss

Grades: Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd

Synopsis: This story recounts the tale of the “girl-bird” Gertrude McFuzz, who only has one small, plain tail feather and envies Lolla Lee Lou, who has two feathers. She goes to her uncle, Doctor Dake, for something that will make her tail grow. He tries to tell her that her tail is just right for her species, but she throws a tantrum. He gives in and he tells her where she can find berries that will make her tail grow. The first berry makes her tail exactly like Lolla Lee Lou’s, but greed overtakes her. Now wanting to surpass Lolla Lee Lou, she eats the entire vine, causing her tail to grow to an enormous size. But because of the added weight of too many feathers, she is unable to fly, run or even talk. She panics by yelping repeatedly, while being stuck on the hill. Her uncle, hearing her painful yelps, sends for the rescue, and many other birds are forced to carry her home and pluck out her tail feathers, which takes a few weeks, causing her to be sore. Though she has only one feather left—as before—she now has “enough, because now she is smarter.”

Debrief Questions:

  • What happened when Gertrude ate all the berries? Do you think she ending up getting what she wanted?
  • Is it a good idea to wish that you were someone else? Does jealousy make you feel happy or sad?
  • What are some traits you already have that you are proud of or that you appreciate?