Who Moved My Cheese by Dr. Spencer Johnson is the nineteenth of his sixteen books in a series featuring a characteristically clueless doctor thrust into a world of strange circumstances and mystery. The title character, a practicing obstetrician in Boston, is called upon to evaluate a case of infertility following the breakdown of his wife’s fertility treatments. Incorporating a great deal of practicality coupled with a great deal of wackiness, the book is a fast-paced tale of medical malpractice and what can go wrong when you least expect it.
At the start of the book, Johnson sets the scene with a simple idyllic setting. A visit to the Boston Zoo, where a little girl falls gravely ill after eating a cake accidentally turns her grandmother into a pig. This incident unites the two main characters in the story: the doctor and the woman. The experience brings the two men together in search of a cure for the girl’s affliction. It also brings them together against the selfishness of their respective clinics. The contrast between the doctor’s dedication to saving the lives of his patients and the self-interest of his own clinic’s selfish interests makes Who Moved My Cheese a memorable read.
If I were to name the main characters in Who Moved My Cheese, I would include both the doctor and the wife in this discussion. Dr. Spencer Johnson has several themes running throughout the novel. Firstly, there is a contrast between the science of medicine and its application in this story. In general medical practice is based on uniform principles that have been proven time and again to work. Those principles clearly indicate what medical practitioners should do when patients are suffering from injuries or illnesses. Doctor Spencer Johnson approaches these principles in a way that is both ethical and necessary.
Secondly, there is a contrast between medical knowledge and everyday life. Like those found in Who Moved My Cheese, these principles are universal and cannot be changed to accommodate changing cultures. Dr. Spencer seems to draw the line when he writes about transplanting organs from one person to another. Although these particular transplants might seem minor compared to the problems faced by many people every day, the transplant might represent a leap of faith – an opportunity to stand apart from the rest of humanity and create something unique.
Lastly, there is the contrast between the tangible and the abstract. Who Moved My Cheese presents Dr. Johnson with a series of personal crises that take him from the realm of the common man to that of a scientific genius. When the results of these crises are published, the public reacts with either awe or revulsion. Again, Dr. Johnson chooses to use his knowledge and skills to make a difference. This does not translate into profiteering at the cost of his patients’ lives; rather, it leads him to realize that he has an obligation to those he helps that requires him to put his personal ethics ahead of his desire for financial gain.
Like Dr. Seuss, Dr. Spencer uses basic childhood stories to explain complex scientific concepts. Unlike Seuss, however, Dr. Spencer is not at all self-conscience. He tells it like it is. I, like many readers, found this refreshing and thought-provoking.
Like most children, I was enthralled with Who Moved My Cheese when it first came out. Even when I read the subsequent stories based on the same characters, I was still as caught in the story as when I first discovered Who Moved My Cheese. Johnson has a way of making complicated ideas simple. This book is clearly aimed at children; however, it is a great read for anyone who enjoys whimsical humor.
Like many a child, I still love Who Moved My Cheese. It is an ideal read for parents and children alike. It is the perfect book to share with your child. It has everything you would expect from a Who Moved My Cheese book: funny, imaginative, interesting, touching, and above all – something that makes you smile.