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, although they should have no difficulty understanding How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, may struggle to read it on their own.
So far, the book has been translated into nine languages, including the 1998 Latin translation Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has been adapted for other media numerous times, most notably as a 1966 animated TV special, a 2000 live-action film and a 2018 animated film.
The monstrous 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.
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.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was adapted for American television as a half hour animated special directed by Chuck Jones and Ben Washam. It first aired on CBS on December 18, 1966. It features the voices of the British-born actor Boris Karloff as the Grinch and the narrator and the highly respected voice actress June Foray as Cindy-Lou Who. The song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", with lyrics by Dr. Seuss himself and music by the German-born composer Albert Hague, was specially written for the TV special, in which it is sung by Thurl Ravenscroft. It has subsequently appeared in other adaptations of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and has been covered by other performers on various holiday-themed albums. The TV special received moderately good reviews when it was first released. It is now widely regarded as a classic and watching it has become a yuletide tradition for many. Two sequels to the TV special were made. Halloween is Grinch Night was first shown on ABC on October 29, 1977. The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat first aired on ABC on May 20, 1982.
The American live-action film How the Grinch Stole Christmas directed by Ron Howard and starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch, premiered on November 8, 2000. It became the sixth highest grossing film of 2000. It received mixed reviews from critics, many of whom praised Carrey's performance but considered it insufficient to save the film.
The second big screen adaptation of the book, the American 3D computer-animated film The Grinch directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney, premiered on October 22, 2018. It features the voice talents of Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Angela Lansbury and Pharrell Williams. The Grinch is voiced by the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
A long playing gramophone record of the American actor, singer and comedian Zero Mostel reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was released in 1975. A recording of American actor and comedian Walter Matthau reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was released on VHS by Random House Home Video in 1992.
A stage musical adaptation of how the Grinch Stole Christmas! was first performed at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, California in 1998. It was performed on Broadway in 2008. Touring productions have been performed across North America since 2010.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was adapted as a thirteen minute song that is performed by the Boston Pops Orchestra on the 2013 album A Boston Pops Christmas - Live from Symphony Hall with Keith Lockhart.