5 Interesting Stories from 110 years of Dr. Seuss by Carlene Moore
Theodor Geisel may not be a household name but his pen name, Dr. Seuss, most certainly is. This past Sunday, March 2nd marked what would have been the beloved author’s 110th birthday. Geisel’s career was peppered with so many unique stories. In his honor, here are five of the most interesting facts about some of his most popular books:
1) Hop on Pop:
This book, subtitled “The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use”, is one of the most famous of Dr. Seuss’ books. According to Wikipedia, it was “designed to introduce basic phonics concepts to children” and Laura Bush added to its fame when she listed it as her favorite book in 2006. One of the most interesting facts that Wikipedia offered though was that “one of Geisel’s manuscript drafts for the book contained the lines, ‘When I read I am smart / I always cut whole words apart. / Con Stan Tin O Ple, Tim Buk Too / Con Tra Cep Tive, Kan Ga Roo.’ Geisel had included the contraceptive reference to ensure that publisher Bennett Cerf was reading the manuscript. Cerf did notice the line, and the poem was changed to the following: “My father / can read / big words, too. / Like… / Constantinople / and / Timbuktu.” Thank goodness for attention to detail!
Rainy days have never been so fun! And the story behind this book is fascinating as well. Supposedly there was quite a fuss at the time that Geisel created the book about early childhood literacy. People were complaining that traditional primers such as Dick and Jane were ineffective. During World War II, Geisel had met and become friendly with William Spaulding, who was the director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin at the time. Spaulding contacted Geisel with a request that he write a better primer but Geisel was in a pickle: he was already contracted with Random House. Luckily, the two publishers were able to settle on an agreement that allowed this book to come into existence: “Houghton Mifflin published the education edition, which was sold to schools, and Random House published the trade edition, which was sold in bookstores,” according to Wikipedia. And the book has been successful ever since! It sold over a million copies within three years and has been acclaimed as one of the top ten-bestselling children’s books of all time. Talk about an effective primer!
3) The Lorax:
Although this book has been bought and loved by millions, not everyone took a liking to it. According to Wikipedia, there was a dispute in a small town in California about whether or not the local school children should be allowed to read the book because it was anti-logging industry. Terri Birkett wrote and published The Truax in response to The Lorax “through a cooperative effort of the Hardwood Forest Association and the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association” according to BuildingaLibrary.com. This book is a pro-logging parody of The Lorax and has been heavily criticized.
This beloved holiday book was actually published as a book, and as a feature in Redbook, around roughly the same time. An interesting fact regarding this story is that Geisel struggled with the ending. He was quoted saying, “I got hung up getting the Grinch out of the mess. I got into a situation where I sounded like a second-rate preacher or some biblical truism… Finally in desperation… without making any statement whatever, I showed the Grinch and the Whos together at the table, and made a pun of the Grinch carving the ‘roast beast.’ … I had gone through thousands of religious choices, and then after three months it came out like that.” And aren’t we glad that it did! This is a timeless piece that everyone can enjoy.
This book was the result of a bet between Seuss and his publisher, Bennett Cerf. Cerf bet Seuss that he couldn’t write a book with 50 words or fewer. And that he did – with 50 words exactly! Although Cerf apparently didn’t pay up, the book did go on to be the fourth bestselling children’s books of all time, according to Publisher’s Weekly, so I think that Seuss got his money in the end.
Some of my other Dr. Seuss favorites include Fox In Socks; Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?; One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish; Oh, The Places You’ll Go!; and Happy Birthday to You!. Theodor Geisel has delighted children around the world for generations, many of his books having deep meanings and winning prestigious awards. Pick one or two up this week and give them a read in honor of the man who put so much imagination and fun into so many of our childhoods.
And tell us, what is your favorite Dr. Seuss story?
Wantrepreneur, wife, adventurer, blogger, wine drinker, avid traveler…in no particular order. Carlene Moore is a Midwestern brain with a California soul. Follow her on Twitter @EverMooreMilest and read her blog here.
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