I Can Draw it Myself By Me, Myself: with a little help from my friend Dr. Seuss

41e3T6f3XTLPublished 1970

SUMMARY:

The book starts with a narrator telling us about finishing some drawings that Dr. Seuss needed help with.

“Dr. Seuss didn’t finish
this picture of Fred.
So I helped him out,
and I drew Fred a head.
And then I took care
of a fellow named Pete.
I saw that Pete needed
a couple of feet.”

This continues on each new page. There are incomplete drawings that the narrator says he/she has finished. It becomes clear pretty quickly that we, as the reader, are also the narrator. We are meant to complete the pictures and therefore be able to say, as the narrator does,

“I can draw noses
for girls smelling roses.
I can draw fingers
And I can draw toeses.
The more I keep drawing,
The better I get!”

This is an interesting concept, because we also eventually see the narrator as a small Cat in the Hat. It looks like the Cat in the Hat’s son from I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today, but it is clear that the reader is meant to complete the pictures. As an adult, this is hard for me to follow and kind of confusing, but in a child’s mind the small Cat in the Hat is simply a guide. He encourages the child reader to complete the drawings, not by telling her to, but by showing off his own confidence in his drawings, therefore making it seem easy and fun for the reader.

The book ends with a large blank space and the little Cat saying,

“And finally, up here,
in this solid gold frame,
I drew a BIG SOMETHING.
Then I signed my name.
BIG SOMETHINGS aren’t easy.
They’re hard for a kid.
But I can draw one by myself.
AND I DID!”

He is still there to provide confidence for the reader, but he isn’t guiding them this time. He doesn’t tell them what to draw or what is missing from the picture. There is no half finished image. It is just a blank space. He walked them through the book and now he is letting the reader use only their imagination to create something that is just theirs.

ABOUT:

Seuss also wrote another book called My Book about Me in the same year. It was actually published before I Can Draw It Myself, but I’m adding it as a side note here because Seuss did not illustrate it, therefore it doesn’t fit my criteria of Children’s books that Dr. Seuss wrote AND illustrated.

51PTNYDEFDL

Once again, this book is written in a way that the reader is also the narrator. The book is about him/her. It starts with,

“First of all
There is one thing
you should know
Am I boy?
Or am I a girl?
Well,
I’ll tell you so
I am a
…………………”

This is obviously a touchy subject nowadays and is not as black and white an answer as it used to be considered, but still, child development shows that it is important for a child to distinguish which gender they relate to more, regardless of their biological sex. So, even with more liberal thoughts on the subject this question still holds and is an important one for children to ask themselves.

The rest of the book continues in a similar manner. It is laid out as factual statements with blanks for the reader to fill in. Such as height, weight, favorite color, etc. It also says how many teeth you have (you are suppose to count them, top and bottom.) Then it starts to become more creative, no longer just filling in blanks, but drawing the style of you hair or the placement of your freckles.It also begins to move past questions about you, the reader, as a person and moves onto where you live. Such as, what country, what type of location (city, farm, desert, etc.)

mybook2

I paired these two together in a single post, because of the similarity of their titles and structure. My Book About Me was the first and only book to be illustrated by another artist and still be originally published under the name Dr. Seuss. Usually when Seuss did not illustrate a book, but still wrote it, he used the pen name “Theo LeSeig” (Theodore being his first name and LeSeig being Giesel, his last name, spelled backwards…”Seuss” is actually his middle name.)

Most of Seuss’ books that were originally published under the pen name Theo LeSeig are now published as Dr. Seuss books because Dr.Seuss is obviously a more famous and recognizable name. The themes of the two books are so similar and they were published in the same year so I felt that it was appropriate to add it to this post.

Both books encourage Seuss’ readers to use his creativity as inspiration for their own creativity. I Can Draw it Myself helps guide the reader into eventually making their own creation at the end. My Book About Me gives several options, but also leaves blanks for readers to fill in with whatever imaginative response they can think up. Both provide interactive reading which helps strengthen readers confidence not only in their reading/art skills, but also in their personal identity.

HISTORY:

Neither book has a dedication. The original publication of I Can Draw It Myself doesn’t even have a title page. It was published in a completely different format than previous Seuss books. It was presented as an over-sized (16″x12″) coloring book with a plastic comb binding running along the top, so that pages flipped up like a calendar. This allowed for full page spreads for children to color on rather than split pages with the binding in the middle. Seuss called it “a revolt against coloring books.”

Later editions resorted back to the normal format for Seuss books. They were hardcover and bound down the left side. This created a problem because it cut pages in half and made the pages lift in the center when you opened it, which was difficult to color. It was republished in 2011 as a paper back so it is now easier to flatten and crease the pages to stay down. It also comes with crayons so it is a more full package deal.

I_Can_Draw_It_Myself  I_Can_Draw_It_Myself_0_large

Originally, My Book About Me had a space in the center where you could put your photo to show that this was indeed a book about YOU. The newer editions show the same creature from the first edition, but now it has a crayon. This is probably to show that it is an interactive book that you write in. Another edition adds stickers and puts “All” in the title as well, it also no longer lists the illustrator on the front.

images   033210-FC222

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“I love to draw whiskers,
and Mr. McGrew
didn’t have even one.
So I drew him a few.
(I drew him some eyebrows and eyelashes, too.)

Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

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2 comments on “I Can Draw it Myself By Me, Myself: with a little help from my friend Dr. Seuss

  1. Mark Carter says:

    I’ve never seen “I Can Draw It Myself” before – amazing!!
    Is it you who couldn’t resist filling in the “About Me and Eating” pages? Good to see someone following a healthy diet (“Hamburgers and (?) and candy” – no olives, though!)!!
    Another excellent post – thanks!

  2. Nathan says:

    I have My Book About Me, and I think a lot of the pages have multiple answers on them. Never had I Can Draw It Myself, though.

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