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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Dr. Seuss - 2014 new book

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, September 14, 2014


When Ted Geisel died in 1991 at the age of 87, the world thought that Horton’s voice had been silenced forever, along with the Lorax, Bartholomew Cubbins, the Grinch, and other characters of Dr. Seuss.


Theodor Seuss Geisel began writing in the 1950s as Dr. Theophrastus Seuss and later as Theo LeSieg, enough to drive a librarian crazy trying to figure out the who and what of this author.


A graduate of Dartmouth College, he attended Oxford intending to become a writer and English teacher, but found that he liked cartooning and advertising.


That combination let to work in the 1930s in advertising for large companies such as Standard Oil, General Electric, and NBC.


His first book appeared in 1936, “And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street,” based on the sound of the engines of a trans-Atlantic ocean voyage.  That was followed by work with the U.S. Government during World War II doing military promotionals for the war effort.


The 1950s brought Dr. Seuss’s most famous books including, “The cat in the hat” and “Green eggs and ham.”  The reviews were mixed in the early days, with the public not used to “anapestic tetrameter,” a poetic meter used by early English poets.


It didn’t matter, as kids loved the rhyme and the illustrations, and caused them to read books.


Dr. Seuss did not have any children, but when asked about that he said, “You have ‘em; I’ll entertain ‘em.”


Now back to his NEW book!  Dr. Charles D. Cohen is a dentist, and is known for having the largest collection of “Seussiana” in the world.  He has original copies of every book that Dr. Seuss ever produced, but is now locating some titles that have been missed over the years.


“Horton and the Kwuggerbug and more lost stories” was released last week by Random House.  It contains four short stories that were published in “Redbook” magazine between 1950 and 1955 with stories that will be new to all, but contain familiar Seuss characters.


Marco, Mulberry Street, and Grinch appear in these four stories, although the Grinch is not the same character that made a mess out of Christmas.


These forgotten tales from a magazine have reappeared in this book for all to enjoy.


In 1957, Dr. Seuss became famous for his new book, “The cat in the hat” which revolutionized the way children read beginner books.  Combined with a nationwide discussion of how children learn to read, the popularity of Dr. Seuss and his books skyrocketed with 10,000 pounds of fan mail being received by Seuss during that year.


I can remember my parents being somewhat confused trying to read Dr. Seuss books to me, as the text seemed awkward and the illustrations were downright weird for the 1950s and the standard reader books of Tom, Betty, and Susan.


What changed my mother’s mind about Seuss was when I began reading the words to her, with the rhyme and odd repetitive phrasing making it fun to talk about the strange characters.


Even as I read this first new short story, I wondered who Kwuggerbug was and what’s the connection with Beezlenuts?  And that familiar elephant Horton is climbing a mountain?


Then the next story finds Marco late for school.  Miss Block the teacher and a worm and an egg.  “Well answered Marco with sort of a squirm, I did see a worm.”  (That’s the Seuss writing!)


“On the troublesome head of that troublesome gnat and kept him from biting old Thomas, the cat” is part of the story of Officer Pat who saves the whole town.


“The Hoobub and the Grinch” is a really short story with only two pages, and you will have to read it to find out what the Grinch sells to a Hoobub for 98 cents.


Dentist Cohen says there may be more lost Seuss books buried in the literature of Ted Geisel, and we can only hope that he can find them to allow children to continue the treasure hunt.