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A Short Introduction to Dr. Seuss Dr. Sarah Keller

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1 A Short Introduction to Dr. Seuss Dr. Sarah Keller

2 "I like nonsense -- it wakes up the brain cells
"I like nonsense -- it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope... and that enables you to laugh at all of life's realities.” THEODOR SEUSS GEISEL

3 The Basics: Date of birth: March 2, 1904
Place of birth:
Springfield, Massachusetts Date of death:
September 24, 1991 Place of death:
La Jolla, California Married to: Helen Palmer Geisel, Audrey Stone Geisel, Education: B.A., Dartmouth College, 1925 Oxford University (no degree)

4 Awards & Recognition 3 Academy Award–winning films (1946; 1947; 1951)
Peabody Award (animated specials, 1971) 2 Emmys (1977; 1982) Legion of Merit 3 Caldecott Honor Awards (1947; 1949; 1950) Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from his alma mater, Dartmouth Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (1980) Pulitzer Prize (1984) New York Library Literary Lion (1986) Academy Awards: Your Job in Germany (Hitler Lives, 1946) Your Job in Japan (Design for Death, 1947) Gerald McBoing-Boing (Best Cartoon, 1951) Peabody Award: (animated Specials, 1971) How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Horton Hears a Who! Emmy Award - Best Children's Special Halloween is Grinch Night (1977) The Grinch Grinches the Cat (1982) Caldecott Honor Awards: McElligot's Pool (1947) Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949) If I Ran the Zoo (1950) Pulitzer Prize: (1984) SPECIAL AWARDS AND CITATIONS – LETTERS - A special citation to Theodor Seuss Geisel, more widely known as Dr. Seuss, for his special contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of America's children and their parents.

5 Ted Geisel (Politics, imagination, & talent) = Dr. Seuss
Editor of Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern (first signed his name “Seuss”) Political cartoonist for Judge & Saturday Evening Post 15 years in advertising for Standard Oil (Quick Henry, the Flit!) WW II - Political cartoons for P.M. drew posters for Treasury Department and War Production Board Joined army in commander of Animation Dept of the first Motion Pictures Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. Work for the Motion Pictures Unit led to the first two of his Academy Awards And led to connections in the film community in California. He moved to LaJolla, California, where he lived the rest of his life. Tried to publish a book under his own name; book was rejected.

6 The Political Dr. Seuss: Dr. Richard H
The Political Dr. Seuss: Dr. Richard H. Minear (Professor at University of Massachusetts) Politics + Talent: Springfield Library and Museum Association: Special Exhibition: The Political Dr. Seuss; March 11 through October 16, 2000 “There is a disconnect between what we usually think of as Dr. Seuss and the content of the cartoons” 400 political cartoons included: Sneetch-type character Horton-esque elephants Nizzard-like birds Prototype of Yertle the Turtle Cartoons “lambasted” isolationism, racism, anti-Semitism, Hitler, Mussolini, the Japanese and the conservative forces in American Politics Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Dr. Richard H. Minear Some have criticized his characterizations of Japanese as racist which is surprising in light of his denunciation of anti-black racism and anti-Semitism View in light of the historical context - we were at war with Japan Highly critical of Charles Lindbergh (isolationist)

7 And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937)
Imagination + Talent: Written while traveling on luxury liner M. S. Kungsholm Rhythm of the engines led to the rhythm and rhymes of the book Rejected by 27 publishing companies Friend at Vanguard (division of Houghton Mifflin) showed manuscript and illustrations to decision-makers at Vanguard Book was well received by librarians and reviewers By this time, there was no question that Ted could make a living as an illustrator and cartoonist—but he also enjoyed writing. While traveling on the luxury liner M.S. Kungsholm, Ted became bothered by the rhythm of its engines. At Helen’s urging, he applied the incessant rhythm to his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. 
Though Mulberry Street is a delightful peek into the vivid imagination of a child, publishers in 1937 were not receptive; in fact, Ted presented his manuscript to 27 publishing houses and received 27 rejections. Discouraged, Ted literally bumped into an old Dartmouth friend who happened to work at Vanguard Press, a division of Houghton Mifflin. His friend offered to show the manuscript and illustrations to key decision-makers. Vanguard wound up publishing Mulberry Street, which was well received by librarians and reviewers. In his verse tale And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), Marco prepares for his father a tall tale about what he saw coming home from school that day. A horse‐drawn cart becomes in Marco's imagination a circus wagon with a brass band, and fantastic details progressively accumulate in his mind; but when his father indifferently asks him what he has seen that day, Marco replies, ‘Nothing … But a plain horse and wagon on Mulberry Street. Marco later returns in McElligot's Pool (1947) to tell a tall fish tale.

8 “Like most works of merit, the works of Dr
“Like most works of merit, the works of Dr. Seuss have been over analyzed; many scholars have found devices where there are truly none to be found. For the most part, Ted enjoyed writing entertaining books that encouraged children to read.”

9 The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938) Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949)
Combination of Politics, Imagination, Talent really begins: “500 Hats” questions the arbitrariness of power Pits a simple but imaginative man against an easily threatened king Bartholomew returns in a second book to save the kingdom from the threatening “oobleck” invented by the king’s magicians (again a misuse of the king’s power) and teaches an ecological lesson In his first prose tale The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938), fantasy is not stifled by indifference but is the pretext for questioning the arbitrariness of power. Bartholomew has a magical hat which is quite plain and shaped like that of Robin Hood. When Bartholomew takes off his hat to pay his respects to the king, another hat appears in its place, which he subsequently removes, and another then appears, until by the end of the story he has accumulated 500 hats. Seuss again employs the technique of accumulation to present his tale, which pits a simple but imaginative man against an easily threatened king. Bartholomew also appears in The King’s Stilts (1937) and then returns again in Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949), an ecology story in which Bartholomew saves the kingdom from the threatening ‘oobleck’ (a sticky ooze) invented by the king's magicians.

10 Horton Hears a Who! (1954) An allegory or parable for the situation of Japan after Hiroshima - points to the potential dangers of people’s lack of imagination Began teaching tolerance to generations of kids - “A person’s a person, no matter how small” Horton Hears a Who! (1954), an allegory for the situation of Japan after Hiroshima, Seuss points to the potential dangers of people's lack of imagination. Horton the elephant, who previously appeared in Horton Hatches the Egg (1940), hears a noise coming from a speck of dust, which he discovers to his surprise to be the voice of the mayor of Who‐ville asking for Horton's protection. The other animals in the jungle, who fail to understand why Horton is protecting the speck of dust, ridicule and torture him until Horton gets the Whos to make themselves heard to the other animals. The story ends with a mise‐en‐abyme, the mayor of Who‐ville himself discovering an entire world on a speck of dust. Began the teaching of tolerance to generations of kids—that ‘a person’s a person, no matter how small’ Horton is said to be a response to the atomic bomb. While the line from the book "A person is a person, no matter how small" has been used as rhetoric against abortion rights, Seuss himself had threatened to sue an anti-abortion group for their use of the phrase, and has attracted sharp criticism from his widow, herself strongly pro-choice. A lawsuit was filed in Canada in 2001 on this issue

11 How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) Cat in the Hat (1957)
The cat’s famous red and white striped hat has a political predecessor in the top hat worn by Uncle Sam in Seuss’s wartime cartoons Seuss’s personal values are also apparent in the Grinch, a warning against materialism (the Whos are in this one too!) How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Seuss's personal values also are apparent which can be taken (partly) as a polemic against materialism. The Grinch thinks he can steal Christmas from the Whos by stealing all the Christmas gifts and decorations, and attains a kind of enlightenment when the Whos prove him wrong.

12 Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories (1958)
A cautionary tale against dictators Dr. Seuss himself said that “Yertle” was modeled after the rise of Hitler and explained his feelings about fascism and Nazis in particular. Two other stories in the book share the theme of vanity: "Gertrude McFuzz" "The Big Brag” “Yertle the Turtle” - The story revolves around a turtle named Yertle (hence the name of the book) who is the king of a pond. He commands the other turtles to stack themselves beneath him so he may have a throne high enough to see and rule over more land "'most a mile" around. A little turtle named Mack, who is standing at the bottom of the pile, complains, "I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights." Yertle refuses to listen to Mack's pleas and commands more and more turtles to add to his throne. When Yertle notices the moon rise above him as the night approaches, he decides to call for 5,607 more turtles for the stack to try to rise above it. However, before he can give the command, Mack, strained and angry, burps, shaking the stack of turtles and tossing Yertle off into the mud. The story ends with: "And the turtles, of course... all the turtles are free, As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be." "Gertrude McFuzz" - about a bird who, jealous of another bird's prettier feathers, takes pills which cause her own to grow until they are too big for her to move. "The Big Brag." features a rabbit and a bear who brag about the distance-ranges of their hearing and smell respectively, until humbled by a worm who claims he can see all around the world —- right back to his own hill where he sees the two biggest fools he's ever met (the rabbit and the bear), "Who seem to have nothing else better to do / than sit here and argue who's better than who!"

13 The Sneetches and Other Stories (1961)
A plea for racial tolerance Parable for the cycle of fashion and how snobbery and insecurity drive consumerism to consumers' own detriment “The Zax” Can be seen as a parody of all political hardliners A lesson about the importance of compromise. "What Was I Scared Of?” Teaches the lesson that you should not be afraid of things with which you are not familiar. The Sneetches are a race of odd creatures who live on a beach. Some Sneetches have a star on their bellies, and in the beginning of the story the presence or absence of a star is the basis for discrimination. Sneetches who have stars on their bellies are part of the "in crowd", while Sneetches without stars are shunned. In the story, a "fix-it-up" chappie named Prof. Sylvester McMonkey McBean appears, driving a cart of strange machines. He offers the Sneetches without stars a chance to have them by going through his Star-On machine, for three dollars. The old star-bellied Sneetches are furious until McBean tells them about his Star-Off machine, costing ten dollars. This escalates, with the Sneetches running from one machine to the next, "until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew whether this one was that one or that one was this one or which one was what one... or what one was who."This continues until the Sneetches are penniless and McBean leaves a rich man. In the end, the Sneetches learn that neither plain-belly nor star-belly Sneetches are superior, and they are able to get along and become friends. It contains the messages that all people regardless of race, class or clothing, are equal, and that the human temptation to judge people by their appearance or by the company they seem to keep is full of pitfalls. "The Zax" In the story a North-going Zax and a South-going Zax meet face to face in the Prairie of Prax. Because they refuse to move east, west, or any direction except their objective direction, the two Zax become stuck, as they refuse to move around each other. The Zax stand so long that eventually a highway overpass is built around them, and the story ends with the Zax still standing there. "What Was I Scared Of?" tells the tale of a character who repeatedly meets up with an empty pair of pale-green pants. The character, who is the narrator, is initially afraid of the pants, which are able to stand on their own despite the lack of a wearer. However when he screams for help and the pants also start to cry, he realizes that "They were just as scared as I!" After that the empty pants become good friends with the narrator. Now the boy and the pants are no longer afraid of each other.

14 I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew (1965)
The hero of this hilarious tale discovers that in attempting to avoid trouble, one often encounters even greater difficulties. Our nameless hero--a typical Seuss hybrid who's part bear, part puppy, and part beyond categorization--has an innocent, carefree life, until it's ruined by minor problems. With a toe stubbed, and a tail bitten by a Quilligan Quail ("And I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead, and some come from behind"), he sets out on an ill-fated journey to find a better, less troublesome place: the fabled city of Solla Sollew, no less, "on the banks of the beautiful River Wah-Hoo,/ Where they never have troubles. At least very few." Like most dreamlands, Solla Sollew is harder to attain than expected --nobody seems to know how to get there, and the journey is far worse than anyone anticipated. When the fair city is finally attained there is, of course, a last straw; but a happy twist suggests troubles may be better faced than escaped. (Ages 4 to 8) - The hero of this hilarious tale discovers that in attempting to avoid trouble one often encounters even greater difficulties. Seuss fans will be enthralled.

15 The Lorax (1971) Contains a strong environmental message.
Is said to have been Dr. Seuss's personal favorite among his books The Lorax - There are several—his later books, in particular—that were, in fact, inspired by current events or his own personal concerns. 
 For example, Ted was upset about the billboards and construction that threatened his tranquil community of La Jolla. On a broader spectrum, however, Ted was concerned about the environment as a whole; he wanted manufacturers, businesses, and individuals to take responsibility for their actions. The Lorax, published in 1971, weaves a familiar tale of a good thing gone wrong: the irresponsible, ambitious Once-ler builds a huge, thriving business at the expense of Truffula trees and the creatures who depend on them. Ted remained true to the Seussian style, but still managed to shame the current generation and challenge the next generation by demonstrating the pitfalls of progress “unless.”

16 Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now! (1972)
Not written as a “political” book Political columnist Art Buchwald criticized Ted for never having written a political book Seuss crossed out Marvin’s name and wrote “Richard M. Nixon” Famed columnist Art Buchwald was another dear friend of Ted’s. The two met at the San Diego Zoo and quickly struck up a friendship. One of Ted’s shining moments was when he responded to Buchwald’s chiding about Ted having never written a political book: Ted took a copy of Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now!, crossed out Marvin’s name, and replaced it with “Richard M. Nixon.” With Ted’s blessing and despite protests from Random House, Buchwald printed the text in his column, and President Nixon resigned the following day (with Ted and Buchwald cheering for their collaborative effort) Shortly before the end of the Watergate Scandal Geisel also converted one of his famous children's books into a polemic. "Richard M. Nixon, Will You Please Go Now!" was published in major newspapers through the column of his friend Art Buchwald. Nine days later, Nixon went.

17 The Butter Battle Book (1984)
Perhaps the most controversial of his books Based on the Cold War and nuclear deterrence Remained for six months on The New York Times Bestseller List -- for adults. The Butter Battle Book, perhaps the most controversial of all his books, was written in response to the nuclear arms race. Published in 1984, Butter Battle sheds light on the growing threat of war between the Yooks and the Zooks. The threat stems solely from the way Yooks and Zooks choose to eat their bread: butter-side up and butter-side down, respectively. The story ends with a blank page, leaving a cliffhanger ending that is open to interpretation. When Ted presented this particular project, Random House saw a red light!

18 Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990)
The last book written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss The book is concerned with life and its challenges - meaningful to both adults and children Oh, the Places You'll Go! is the last book written and illustrated by children's author Dr. Seuss. It was first published by Random House on January 22, The book concerns life and its challenges.Though written in the style of classics such as Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! has many specific characters including a narrator and the reader. A young boy, referred to simply as メyou,モ initiates the action of the story. However, the presence of a main character helps readers to identify with the book. Oh, the Places You'll Go! is a popular gift for students graduating from high school and college, spiking in sales every spring

19 Daisy-Head Mayzie (1994) The tale of young Mayzie McGrew, who one day mysteriously sprouts a daisy from her head Mayzie learns the hard way that love is more important than fame and fortune. The tale of young Mayzie McGrew, who one day mysteriously sprouts a daisy from her head. The phenomenon is followed by a lengthy and predictable scramble of adults rushing in to solve the problem. The attendant media buzz makes a celebrity of Mayzie and her daisy, and she learns the hard way about the high cost of fame. When a daisy suddenly sprouts from the top of Mayzie McGrew's head, she is faced with her classmates' taunts, her parents' dismay, and a publicity agent's greed. How poor Mayzie learns that love is more important than fame and fortune makes an endearing morality tale for our time--and for all ages.

20 Dr. Seuss & Reading The Cat in the Hat (1957)
Green Eggs and Ham (1960) Random House’s Beginner Books division John Hersey, author of the article "Why Johnny Can't Read," was outraged with the reading primers of the day, calling them "antiseptic" and the children in them "unnaturally clean." He called for illustrations "that widen rather than narrow the associative richness the children give to the words," and concluded that the work of artists like Geisel and Walt Disney would be more appropriate. In May 1954, Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among school children, which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. Seuss's publisher made up a list of 400 words he felt were important and asked Dr. Seuss to cut the list to 250 words and write a book using only those words. Nine months later, Seuss, using 220 of the words given to him, completed The Cat in the Hat. A rumor exists, that in 1960, Bennett Cerf bet Dr. Seuss $50 that he couldn't write an entire book using only fifty words. The result was supposedly Green Eggs and Ham. The additional rumor that Cerf never paid Seuss the $50 has never been proven and is most likely untrue. These books achieved significant international success and remain very popular. Cerf had the vision to see that Ted was going to turn the children's book industry upside down, and he definitely wanted to be a part of it, so he, along with his wife Phyllis, Ted, and Helen, created Random House's Beginner Books division, one of the most innovative and successful ventures in children's publishing.

21 Shortly before his death, when
Ted was asked if there was anything left unsaid, he pondered the question and finally responded: “The best slogan I can think of to leave with the U.S.A. would be: ‘We can and we’ve got to do better than this.’”

22 References:
Morgan, J. & Morgan, N. (1996). Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel. New York: Da Capo Press. Krull, K. (2004). The boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel grew up to become Dr. Seuss. New York: Random House.

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