Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy B-day, Dr. Seuss!

Today is the 106th birthday of the king of children's books: Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). School libraries and Children's libraries all over the country are hosting giggling crowds of pajama-wearing kids for story times and meals of green eggs and ham.
The libraries for grown-ups don't usually get to join in the fun, but in honor of his birthday (and the fact that the only poetry I can recite from memory comes from Dr. Seuss books), I would like to draw your attention to The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss: a visual biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel, by Charles D. Cohen.
Long before he penned his first children's book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss worked as a cartoonist for popular magazines and advertising agencies. He had a long-standing relationship with the weekly magazine Judge, and his ad campaigns for Flit and Standard Oil made him well known.
Like any adult, however, there are aspects of his life that are somewhat controversial. His editorial cartoons frequently reflect the racial stereotypes of the time, with quite unflattering portrayals of blacks, Jews and Japanese-Americans. Did his attitudes change in later years? Did he redeem himself with his later books about bigotry (The Sneetches) and ecological consciousness (The Lorax)? You'll have to read the book to find out........

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