Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, would have been 111 this year.
A bold innovator of children’s literature, his loopy drawing style and brilliant storytelling are showcased in such childhood classics as The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! His imaginative characters, unique artwork and catchy rhymes made Seuss arguably the greatest all-time writer of books for children. He published 46 children’s books during his lifetime, which are treasured by each new generation of readers.
Drawn to Create
Seuss (“Ted” to friends) started his career in publishing and advertising, bringing the unmistakable Seuss style to all kinds of cartoons for ads. He also used his talents to help the military during WWII, producing a set of cartoons about a goofy Army private who could do nothing right (“Private Snafu”). The cartoons carried practical advice for GIs.
Later Geisel helped found Random House’s “Beginner Books” series. He started using a pen name he had invented while attending Dartmouth and started to work. His first creation, The Cat in the Hat, was a huge hit. And then came the flood: Green Eggs and Ham, Fox in Socks, Hop on Pop, Horton Hears a Who!, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and the list goes on and on.
Although not a classically trained artist, Seuss had an unmistakable style and filled his stories with incredible graphic design. And he had characters like the Grinch, who spoke in their own crazy kind of verse:
“The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.”
– from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Random House, 1957)
Seuss was challenged to write a book for early readers, using a limited vocabulary of 250 words. He came up with The Cat in the Hat, which has sold more than 10 million copies and been translated into 12 languages.
And it wasn’t just the unique wordplay we’ve come to love over the years, but also the unforgettable characters in each story. The Grinch could not have become a Christmas superstar if there wasn’t a little bit of the grouchy Grinch in all of us. Same with the Cat in the Hat, who just wanted to shake things up a little for those two kids he visited. Seuss was light years ahead of his time, too. He went “green” with 1971’s The Lorax, which tackled environmental issues.
What’s New? A New Seuss to View!
Soon there will be another book in the Seuss library, thanks to a recent discovery made by Audrey Geisel (Seuss’ widow) and his longtime secretary. The two were cleaning out the Doctor’s studio when they came upon a previously unknown manuscript, called What Pet Should I Get?, set for a late July 2015 release. Dr. Seuss’ character creation led to a huge cast of recognizable faces, some of whom are said to be making an appearance in the new book.
It’s not every day that we get to celebrate an 111th birthday, so we’re more than happy to do so for Dr. Seuss…someone who’s helped teach children that by keeping an open mind (and a spectacular vocabulary!), anything is possible.
March 2 (Seuss’ birthday) is also as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association. The date selected was a tribute to the amazing Dr. Seuss.