Read Aloud with Janine LaManna, Gertrude McFuzz from Seussical

by Alice Knisley Matthias

Read Aloud with Janine LaManna

Let’s get ready to read. And sing!

World Read Aloud Day celebrates the power of reading aloud to create a feeling of community, a chance to celebrate stories, and advocate for literacy. This fun day of reading is celebrated on the first Wednesday in February. The day is dedicated not just to reading, but to the art,  practice and magic of reading aloud.

Words on the page tell a story for a reader. We imagine places that are described and get to know characters by reading dialogue and observing character traits and actions. We can learn about events in history, people, and inventions.

The words on a page can be the story you read, or listen to, when someone reads a book out loud to a group of people. What happens when words are used with music? They are called lyrics and the words and music are what create a song.

Bryan Andes is a Kindergarten/First grade teacher at the Midtown West School PS212 on West 48th Street in New York City. He helps students discover the arts in their neighborhood community which includes Broadway theaters. 

Seuss, Read Aloud, Gertrude McFuzz, Seussical

Andes takes his students to visit the theaters so they can meet all the professionals who work on the stage and behind the scenes of the shows. He also welcomes Broadway actors and professionals to meet his students in their exciting classroom.


One of the visiting actors recently was Janine La Manna. She is an actress who has starred on Broadway in musicals like “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Ragtime,” “Kiss Me Kate,” and “Sweet Charity.” You can also see her as the ace detective in the television show “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” Janine is the original Gertrude McFuzz in “Seussical” which is a show based on the stories of Dr. Seuss. 


Seuss, Read Aloud, Gertrude McFuzz, Seussical

The musical is now performed by students all over the country. The role of Gertrude was created just for Janine by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty who are the lyricist and composer of the musical. They wrote the songs based on the stories from the books of  Dr. Seuss.

Seuss, Read Aloud, Gertrude McFuzz, Seussical

Characters like Horton the Elephant, Mayzie the Bird, the Sour Kangaroo and the Wickersham Brothers all sing and dance using the words of Dr. Seuss that you know from their stories.

When Janine came to visit Andes and his students in his class, she read the story of Gertrude McFuzz and performed one of the songs her character sings in the show. You can follow along in the clips here and listen to the words as she reads the story of Gertrude and her one-feather tail. 

Then you can hear how those same words are used with music as the lyrics of a song when Janine plays a ukulele and sings about Gertrude’s adventures.

See and hear Janine read the story to students here.

Listen to the same words of the story as Janine sings Gertrude’s song here.

The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzzSeuss, Read Aloud, Gertrude McFuzz, Seussical

Doo doo, doo doo, doo doo, doo doo doo doo…
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
She curled it, she dyed it, she gave it a puff
She decked it with flowers
But it wasn’t enough
For no matter what
It just was what it was
A tail that simply wasn’t meant
To catch the eye of an elephant
The one feather tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz

We celebrate the words of stories with Read Aloud in the month of February and all year long.

The words of a book tell a story on the page just as the words do for us in a song!

Oh, the thinks you can think!

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Alice Knisley Matthias writes about food, garden, family and education. Her work appears in The New York Times, Allrecipes, Taste of Home, Food Network, Washington Post, Eating Well, The Kitchn, Delish, Birds and Blooms, Woman's Day, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, America's Test Kitchen, Boys' Life and Parade. Her book, "Tasty Snacks in a Snap!" is published by Scholastic for young readers. You can read her work at Home / Alice Knisley Matthias ( and follow her at Alice Knisley Matthias (@aliceknisleymatthias) • Instagram photos and videos and @AKnisleyMatth ( / Twitter (