New Challenge

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Well, I have completed a post for each of the 44 books that Dr. Seuss wrote AND illustrated. Then I moved on to his posthumously published works. Now that I’m all caught up on those (until they release even more new material!) I have decided to go back and cover the books that he wrote, but did NOT illustrate.

For these books Dr. Seuss used another pen name. His full name is Theodore Seuss Geisel, so he shortened his first name and spelled his last name backwards to create the pen name Theo Lesieg. For one book only he also used the pen name Rosetta Stone. I’ll go into that more when that post comes up.

I have included these books at the bottom of my List of Children’s Books page on this blog. The titles should change color and become links to the posts as I complete them. Until then, happy reading!

Jack St.Rebor

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WHAT PET SHOULD I GET?

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Published by Random House 2015

SUMMARY:
What Pet Should I Get? is the story of a boy and his sister, Kay, trying to decide what pet they should get. Their dad said he would pay for them to have one, but only one. At first it is simple a matter of deciding between a dog and a cat, but then there is a puppy and a kitten added to the mix.
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In true Seussian style more and more animals are added to the list of possible pets. First come your average pets like a bird that sings, or a rabbit.

“Then I looked at Kay.
I said, ‘What will we do?
I like all the pets that I see.
So do you.

We have to pick ONE pet
and pick it out soon.
You know Mother told us
to be back by noon.”

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Instead of deciding, Kay gets distracted by a bunch of fish! There are even monkeys that they can choose from! image005

Then it really starts to get crazy as our hero imagines all the pets he could pick from! Now we go into a classic Seussian list of imaginary creatures.

“If we had a big tent,
then we would be able
to take home a YENT!
Dad would like us
to have a good YENT.
BUT, how do I know
he would pay for the tent?

So, you see how it is
when you pick out a pet.
How can you make up
your mind what to get?”

For  a moment our hero considers getting one of every kind of pet, but then he realizes his dad would be mad because he said to only get one and if they do not make up their minds soon then they will get none!

“‘I will do it right now.
I will do it!’ I said.
‘I will make up the mind
that is up in my head.”

And he does. The last image is them walking out of the pet shop with a couple of eyes peeping out of a big basket with a bow on top, but Seuss does not reveal what pet they decide on. He leaves that up to the reader’s imagination.

The end.

HISTORY: 

Unlike the short story collections that came out in 2013 and 2014 and are covered in the previous two blog posts, this was not put together by Charles D. Cohen. There is, however, a section at the back of the book titled Notes from the Publisher. There is no signature at the end or introduction that explains who the specific writer of the “notes” is, so the reader is lead to assume it is someone at Random House that is representing them as a whole.

The Notes From the Publisher section starts with a heartfelt message to the readers about the responsibilities of buying a pet.

“[When the book was written] it was common for people to simply buy dogs, cats, and other animals at pet stores. Today animal advocates encourage us to adopt them from a shelter or rescue organization and warn us never to purchase our pets from places that are supplied by puppy mills. We wholeheartedly agree and completely support this recommendation. Choosing to adopt can help save the life of an animal that may not otherwise get a second chance at finding a forever home.”

From here this section goes into some history about pets that Seuss had in his own life and includes a few pictures. I am not going to cover all of that in this post, but the first bit is too precious not to share. He actually started his pet menagerie at the age of six with a stuffed toy dog that he named Theophrastus (Seuss’ real name is Theodore Seuss Geisel.) He kept this dog for the rest of his life. Just days before his death he gave it to his stepdaughter (the closest he ever had to a child of his own.)

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The Notes section continues into some general history about the career and success of Dr. Seuss throughout the years. It is interesting information, but things that most Seuss readers know and that I have covered in other posts, so I’ll skip forward to the information about this particular publication.

When Seuss died in 1991 his wife, Audrey, found a box of various materials and projects that Seuss had been working on. She set it aside. It was rediscovered in 2013 by Audrey and Claudia Prescott (Seuss longtime secretary.) The manuscript and line art for What Pet Should I Get? were included in this rich bounty.

There is a quote from Audrey:

“While undeniably special, it is not surprising to me that we found this because Ted always worked on multiple projects and started new things all the time–he was constantly writing and drawing and coming up with ideas for new stories.”

Cathy Goldsmith (Ted’s art director for the last 11 years of his life) was able to identify the artwork as being from 1958 to 1962. She recognized the children as being the same from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish! *
7a020dab67133dd14ac34fc98025e085* from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.

The manuscript that Audrey and Claudia found was not completely finished. There was text tapped in with various versions on top of each other. There were also inked in lines and parts that were too faded to read.

“Like Kay and her brother, the editors at Random House had to make decisions and stick with them. We thought very carefully about each one, and we hope Dr. Seuss would be pleased-and that you will be, too.”

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The images they found were also not complete. The line drawers were complete, but without color or color assignments. As the Art Director, Goldsmith decided to base the color palette off of One Fish, but One Fish was limited to only four colors (including black.) These colors are never mixed to make more colors, but after 1963 Seuss’ books began to have a more full color palette.  Goldsmith chose to use this book as an in-between point.

“She colored all the backgrounds and objects in Pet blue or red or yellow or black. Mixed inks were used to create the colors of the real-life pets as well as the children’s hair and skin tone.”

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My personal aesthetic would have been more pleased if they had fully committed to making the book feel like it was created and published in the 1958-1962 period of his work. I would have loved the limited color palette as well as publishing it in the size of a Beginner Book (which is what it would have been if it had been published in that time) rather than the full size of his more difficult to read books.

The writer of the Notes from the Publisher section does make the point that this book is not only about picking a pet, but also about making up your mind and Random House had to make some tough decisions and overall I think they stayed true to Dr. Seuss and published a delightful book.  
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FAVORITE QUOTE:

“I might find a new one.
A fast kind of a thing
who would fly round my head
in a ring on a string!”

The addition of the word ring in the last line is not necessary for the rhyme scheme, but it adds an extra tongue twister aspect that makes it all the more fun to say.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

This image appears twice in the story. The first time seems kind of odd because it is before any fantastical creatures are introduced. The second time feels much more appropriate because it leads into the imaginary creatures toward the end of the book. Either way, it is a delightful image with classic Seussian creatures and great Seuss style font. The whole image reminds readers that this may be newly published, but the images and the idea are classic Seuss. 
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Thank you for reading,
Jack St. Rebor

New Dr. Seuss book!!!

 

USA Today posted some big news for Seuss lovers yesterday. There will be a new Dr. Seuss book! Looks like I started my posthumous section just in time.

Audrey Geisel (Dr. Seuss aka Theodor Geisel’s widow) seems to have a secret stash of Seuss’ notes that she teases us with every couple of years. This time it is a book called What Pet Should I Get? (a very promising title!)

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Hopefully this publication will follow in the footsteps of Charles Cohen’s (author of The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss) collections such as The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories and last years Horton and the Kwuggerbug.

Mr. Cohen does an amazing job of showing us the history of these works and including as much of Dr. Seuss original sketches as can be found. The are only updated to make them smooth and cohesive like any publication Seuss would have done himself while he was alive.

I’m hoping it will not be like Daisy-Head Mayzie; full of changed lines, obvious non-Seussian language and ridiculous attempts to copy his illustrations. Goodness me, I got a little mean there.

Either way I am very excited for this new publication! And I’ll have a post about as soon as I can get my hands on a copy!

Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

 

 

Daisy-Head Mayzie

10713142_1Published by Random House in 1994. Illustrations based on the Hannah Barbera cartoon special.

SUMMARY:

The Cat in the Hat opens the story to tell us that it really did happen. Daisy-Head Mayzie starts out as just Mayzie McGrew, a young girl sitting in class, but then all of a sudden a daisy grows out of the top of her head. Other students point it out to the teacher who tries to yank it out unsuccessfully. This causes an uproar from the class as they shout “Daisy-Head Mayzie” over and over. So, the teacher, Miss Sneetcher, removes Mayzie from class and takes her to the Principle’s office.

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The Principle, Mr. Gregory Grumm, is very smart and his office is full of books. He researches daisies to find out why there is one growing on Mayzie’s head, but he doesn’t find an answer. Then the daisy begins to wilt! At first Mr. Grumm thinks all is well because the daisy will be gone soon, but he quickly realizes that Mayzie seems to be wilting too and discerns that if the daisy dies so will Mayzie!

They make Mayzie lie down and then call her parents. Mrs. McGrew is a welder (image only – see notes below) and Mr. McGrew is a shoe salesmen. They both leave work and head to the school. The Principle also calls Dr. Eisenbart and Finch the Florist.

Meanwhile, Mayzie is laying down when a swarm of bees flies in through the window, attracted by the flower. She jumps out the window to run away from the bees. When she tries to hide behind Office Thatcher he holds his hat up and catches all of the bees in it. Then he runs after Mayzie back to the school.

Mayzie’s parents, a customer from the shoe store, the doctor and his patient and the florist are all in the Principles office causing a raucous. Then Office Thatcher and Mayzie jump in through the window and slam the pane down so the bees can’t get in. The daisy on her head has gotten taller and fatter!

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The crowd of people swarm around Mayzie. Her mother wants to faint, the florist wants to cut off the daisy, the doctor wants to use her to get a research grant. Then even more people start showing up including the Mayor! There is also a smooth talking agent named Finagle. Finagle the Agent convinces Mayzie to sign a contract with think-proof ink, even though her mother disapproves and the principle tries to tell her not to leave school. “Daisy-head” becomes a sensation!

“Daisy-Head burgers,
And Daisy-Head drinks.
Daisy-Head stockings,
And Daisy-Head sinks.
Daisy-Head buttons,
And Daisy-Head bows.
Mayzie was famous,
The star of her shows.”

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Daisy had gotten tons of money, but she has no friends. She runs away and tells herself over and over “I can never go home. Nobody loves me. Nobody loves me. Nobody loves me.” Then the daisy, doing what daisies do when they hear about love, starts plucking itself:

“They love her…
They love her NOT!
They love her…
They love her NOT!”

When the reader flips the page they see one last petal showing that “they” do love Mayzie! The Cat in the Hat takes her back to her family and friends at school. Then he sums everything up and lets the reader know that Mayzie is doing well, the flower went away, and she is back to her studies.

“And concerning that daisy…you know that it never
Grew out of the top of her head again ever!

Errr…well, it practically never popped up there again.
Excepting, occasionally. Just now and then.”

The final page is just Mayzie with the daisy on her head and she finish the story with,

“And, after all…I’m getting used to it!”

HISTORY:

The dedication reads

To the ongoing presence of
Theodor S. Geisel…Dr. Seuss
Thanks, Herb.
–Audrey Geisel

This book was published posthumously and was not illustrated by Dr. Seuss. In fact, Seuss started it as a manuscript that was finished by Hannah Babara cartoons and the book was published after the movie. Philip Nel points out several of the differences between Seuss’ sketches and the finished product in his book Dr. Seuss: American Icon. In Seuss’ earlier drafts there was no Cat in the Hat involved, the narrator was just an ordinary man. Also, in the book we see Mayzie’s mother as a welder whereas, in Seuss’ sketches, Mrs. McGrew is depicted holding a tray of dishes when they call her to tell her about Mayzie. There are other small changes, such as the teacher carrying Mayzie out of the classroom rather than following her out as she does in Seuss’ drawings.

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There are enough changes to justify some sort of introduction in the book to explain how the story came about. This is done in later posthumous works like The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, and Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. Without some sort of clarification or explanation the book just seems choppy and feels very much like an early draft. Also, the illustrations attempt to match Seuss’ style, but fail in my opinion. I had a hard time writing this post because I dislike this book and often don’t count it as one of Dr. Seuss children’s stories, but I felt it was only fair to include it since it is based on his work and published under his name.


FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Quit yanking,” Butch said. “You’re giving her pains.
I’ll bet that those roots go way down in her brains!”

It’s a simple and fun quote that reminds me that it is at least partially written by Seuss.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

I’m a bit of cheater, because this image does not appear in the book, but it is an image actually drawn by Dr. Seuss of the main character and it has all the charm and classic Seussianess that I feel the book lacks.
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Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

Oh say can you Say?

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Published 1979 by Random House

Tagline on the cover reads:

“Oh my brothers!
Oh my sisters!
These are
TERRIBLE TONGUE TWISTERS!”

SUMMARY:

Like the last several Beginner Books that Seuss wrote during the 70’s Oh Say Can You Say? is not plot driven. It also does not have a “threw-character” that guides us from beginning to end (not Cat in the Hat in this one.) It is broken up into several tongue twisters. Most of the tongue twisters have a title that is presented in the drawing that goes with it.

The first tongue twister is titled Oh Say Can You Say. The illustration that goes with it is of a parrot in distress reading from a book of the same title. This is the same parrot that is on the cover of the actual book.

“Said a book-reading parrot named Hooey,
‘The words in this book are all phooey.
When you say them, your lips
will make slips and back flips
and your tongue may end up in Saint Looey!'”

The list of tongue twisters by title is as follows:

1. Oh Say Can You Say

2. Fresh, Fresher, Freshest

3. Dinn’s Shin

4. Bed Spreader, Bread Spreader

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5. Ape Cakes, Grape Cakes

Then they are broken up by a small interlude that reads,

“Are you having trouble
in saying this stuff?
It’s really quite easy for me.
I just look in my mirror
and see what I say,
and then I just say what I see.”

6. Now let’s talk about MONEY! (which is more of a two-parter with Grox Boxes on one page and Simple Thimble/Single Shingle on the other page)

7. Eat at Skipper Zipp’s

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Then a small bird in the corner says in small font:

“And if your tongue
is getting queasy
don’t give up.
The next one is EASY.”

8. The Fuddnuddlers (which is not particularly easy.)

9. Quack Quack!
(which goes together with another one about Schnacks, but is not titled separately.)

10. West Beast, East Beast

11. Pete Pats Pigs

12. Fritz Food, Fred Food

13. How to tell a Klotz from a Glotz (which comes with a drawing of two goats, one of which is the title page at the beginning of the book.)

14. What would you rather be when you grow up?

15. More about Blinn (the man from #3 Dinn’s Shin) (also has a second part about Gretchen von Schwinn)

16. Rope Soap, Hoop Soap

17. Merry Christmas Mush

18. And, Speaking of Christmas… (two tongue twisters focused on gifts for dad. The Slim Jim Swim Finn and the Bright Dwight BIrd-Flight Night-Sight Light.)

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19. But Never Give Your Daddy a Walrus

And before the last tongue twister we see the very stressed book-reading parrot at the bottom of the page with the words:

“And that’s almost enough
of such stuff for one day
One more and you’re finished
Oh say can you say?…”

The last one does not have a title, but it is presented on the center of a rain filled page.

“The storm starts
when the drops start dropping.
When the drops stop dropping
then the storm starts stopping.”

HISTORY:

This is one of the few Beginner Books to have a dedication. The dedicated reads

“For
Lee Groo
the Enunciator”

The Enunciator was the nick name for his younger stepdaughter. I find this to be a very noteworthy dedication because his first dedication in a Beginner Book was not only also for a tongue twister book, Fox in Socks, but was also for Lee’s mother, Audrey Dimond. If you haven’t read any of my previous blogs then you’ll find it interesting to know that Seuss dedicated Fox in Socks to Audrey while he was till married to his first wife, Helen. I guess the tongue twister skill runs in the family.

I really enjoy the way Philip Nel explains, in his book Dr. Seuss: American Icon, Seuss’ use of language. “Seuss…demonstrates that language can be used for one’s amusement as well as for communication with others.” I think Oh Say Can You Say is a prime example of using language for amusement.

Seuss, himself, had this to say about one of his tongue twisters. “It can’t be done after three martinis. It’s a two-martini tongue twister.”

The goat on the mountain peak that is seen on the title page as well as in the tongue twister titled How to Tell a Klotz from a Glotz is an illustration that Seuss has perfected over many years. The Seussian goat has appeared in at least 17 illustrations by Seuss. Starting in his college years while working on the Jack-O-Lantern (Dartmouths literary-arts magazine,) and continuing on into his work for Judge and Life magazines. There are also a few mountain goats in I Can Draw It Myself.

The new title page is a bit strange to me. Rather than having the parrot, that opens and closes the book, on the cover, they put a little girl with a walrus which is from the second to last tongue twister titled But Never Give Your Daddy a Walrus. They cut out the daddy and changed the color of the walrus as well as of the little girl’s dress/ribbon. Also the walrus bleeding off the page and cover the black and white stripe binding is very odd to me.
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FAVORITE IMAGE:

Seuss does not often draw skeletons, but his odd curves and wobbly lines definitely make for very fun bones. I really enjoy this illustration and the fact that, even without eyes, this dinosaur has a very Seussian face.

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

My favorite tongue twister is the very last one, probably because it is the easiest/shortest one, but also it seems like an appropriate ending to a book of tongue twisters.

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Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

The CAT’S QUIZZER

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Published 1976 by Random House

SUMMARY: 
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This educational style book is not set up in a narrative manner. Like The Cat in The Hat Songbook or I Can Draw It Myself, The Cat’s Quizzer has a guiding character, but they are not telling a story. The book starts with the Cat in the Hat introducing the reader to Ziggy Zozzfozzle and his sister Zizzy. They got all the questions wrong. He then challenges the reader by asking, “Are you smarter than a Zozzfozzel?”

The meat of the story is made up of several short questions, riddles, or statements. These little sentences are somewhat organized into catagories like “True or False”, “Food Quiz” or “A Night Quizzer”. 

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The finale of the quiz is a large Where’s Waldo-like page full of random things like a bear juggling a pineapple, heart, vase and clock. There is also a hippo in a hammock with a vase of flowers on it’s belly. It is basically pure Seuss-caos. The Cat in the Hat tells the reader there are 100 things that begin with H in the picture and that the Zozzfozzle’s could only find 6! Then The Cat in the Hat asks one final question…

“So, how about it…

Are you smarter than a Zozzfozzle?”

All of the answers to the questions asked throughout the book are listed very simply on the last few pages without images, but with lots of color. The last page is the list of 100 things that start with H including…

“1 Cat with a Headache!”

HISTORY:

Like most Beginner Books there is no dedication.

By this point in Seuss’s career The Cat in the Hat was a very recognizable character and one that kids were instantly drawn to and could trust to take them on a fun journey. Parents also recognized Dr. Seuss as an author that would entertain their children and make them excited about reading.

The Cat’s Quizzer is actually mocking the genre of “educational” children’s books, but still manages to be educational. Some of the questions are very silly and have equally silly answers, but some of them will stump even parents.

By introducing the reader to the Zozzfozzle’s and putting them at zero questions correct, Seuss is creating competition to strike the reader’s interest. He also sets the bottom of the grading curve so that even if the reader only gets one question right they are still smarter than the Zozzfozzles!

The drawings are not Seuss’s best. He did a series of Beginner Books because he suffered from Glaucoma and his eye sight was so bad that the “big books” were too much of a challenge to illustrate. He explained his jumpy line work by saying, “Lines seem to move as I draw them.”

FAVORITE QUOTE:

I had a very difficult time finding good images for this book. I need to go through and scan some myself, but this quote was my favorite. It is such an innocent question and seems to make perfect sense. It feels like a question a child would ask and an adult with laugh at, but that would honestly make sense in a child’s mind.

“There are
FLASH-LIGHTS
for when it’s dark.

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“Are there
FLASH-DARKS
for when its light?”

FAVORITE IMAGE:

This one actually took me a second and I’m sure it stumped most kids and even some parents. It feels like a bit of Cat in the Hat trickier and has a pretty classic Seuss look to it with the elephant and mustached man.

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Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

Oh, the THINKS you can Think!

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Published 1975 by Random House

SUMMARY:

Dr. Seuss starts out very simple in this book. First, he suggest that the reader think about colors or animals that she knows, like birds, or horses, but as quickly as page three he asks the reader to think of something completely made up; a GUFF! A Guff is a sort of puffy fluff. He does not use the words “puff” or “fluff” to describe the guff, but the image of the guff fits its name in the usual Seuss style of rhyming names with descriptors.

Next he thinks up a dessert! Of all the made up things in this image the focus is on the dessert. He gives no real description of it, other than that it is beautiful and has a cherry on top!


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After thinking of colors and known animals, then made up animals and made up dessert he moves on to made up activities, like Kitty O’Sullivan Krauss’s balloon swimming pool!

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Then, of course, Seuss’ next step is to take the reader to made up locations like Na-Nupp where the birds are asleep and the three moons are up. However, the birds are awake in Da-Dake where it is day time.

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After Seuss presents the reader with various things to think up, he then moves on to questions the reader should ask herself. Such as, how much water can fifty elephants drink or what would you do if you met a JIBBO? There is no explanation for what a JIBBO is, we just get a sketchy image leaving us to wonder and think up a story for the JIBBO. 
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In typical Seuss fashion things get busier and more colorful at the end. He fills the page with lots of crazy creatures and activity when he asks the reader why so many things go to the right. This causes the reader’s eyes to scan the page taking in every detail until she is finally wiling to turn the page.

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The final page is a busier and more colorful version of the first page, with bird-like creatures walking along a curved path, breaking the laws of gravity just as the text breaks the rules of reading left to right.

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HISTORY:

Like most Beginner Books there is no dedication.

Seuss described this book as a

“cabbages-and-kings job, in which I decided I would like to shock the child: lead him a certain way, get him into a plot, and then take it away from him on the next page and move him to another land or another completely different set of ideas.”

By breaking away and moving to the  next subject/idea Seuss leaves the reader wanting to know more about that glimpse of a different world. Seuss doesn’t flesh it out for them so if they want to know more they have to make it up, they have to use their imagination and THINK of the rest of the story or world that they only got a snippet of.

This book was a precursor to Seuss’ final book Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Not only are the titles very similar, but it is written in the same style where each page is a new location or new idea. Oh, The Places You’ll Go is a “big book” and has a more expansive vocabulary and larger word count, but you can see Seuss beginning to form the ideas for it here in this book.

The more sketchy image below is from the Cat Behind the Hat art collection. It is fun to see the formation of Seuss’ work through his sketches and renderings.

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The later paperback cover of the simplified version of Oh, The Thinks You Can Think made the entire title capitol letters and moved it to the top of the cover. It also changed to a bright blue background and instead of the birds that are found on the first and final pages the publishers chose to put the snuvs in gloves as the cover image.

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FAVORITE IMAGE:

I absolutely love the Seussian architecture of this image as well as the strong contrast of the black background with white text and light given off by the candle. Beautiful image.

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

“THINK! You can think
any THINK
that you wish…”

There is so much freedom in thinking, you can think of anything that you want! Anything you wish! There is no limitation.

Thanks for reading,

Jack St. Rebor