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February 28, 2013
In May 1954, Life magazine published a report on illiteracy that concluded that children were not learning to read because their beginner books were boring.
The good doctor responded.
Using only 220 words he created a new language for children.
“The Sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.”
He wrote the book, as he wrote most of his books, in anapestic tetrameter, a meter employed by Lord Byron. But, in this one, just when you got used to the cadence, he’d mix it up a bit.
"So all we could do was to Sit! Sit! Sit! Sit!
And we did not like it. Not one little bit."
Enter a tall, anthropomorphic, mischievous cat, wearing a tall, red and white striped hat, a bowtie, and the Run Spot Run's of the world were history.
“I know it is wet
And the sun is not sunny
But we can have
Lots of good fun that is funny!”
He wrote and illustrated over 60 children’s books in all. The success of the “The Cat in the Hat” prompted him and his wife to write others in the series like, “Fox in Socks” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”
He’s been translated into 20 languages.
Although I’d imagine his “Wockets, Whos, Bunches of Hunches, Bar-ba-loots and Grinches would stay exactly as they are, don’t you think?
He once remarked that if he were invited to a party with his characters, he wouldn't show up.
Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, turns 109 this Sunday.
The Dr. part was his usual bit of whimsy.
Sent overseas to Oxford, he dropped out of his doctorate studies in English literature at Oxford, deciding it was "astonishingly irrelevant."
Then added his title as a bit of a joke to appease his father, who wasn't all that amused.
“I like nonsense, he said. "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 life's realities.”
Dr. Seuss and his wife Helen had no children of their own.
But that was a mere technicality. They had had hundreds of millions of them, of all ages, looking through that "wrong" end of a telescope with him.
It's certainly the end I prefer. How about you?