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

The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories

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Published by Random House 2011
Introduction by Charles D. Cohen

SUMMARY:

This is a rather large post, because there are seven stories included. Feel free to skip the Summary section and head straight to the History section below to learn more about this wonderful collection of Seuss stories.

THE BIPPOLO SEED

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One day a lucky duck named McKluck found an old, small, silver box. On top of the box was written:

“Who finds this rare box will be lucky, indeed
For inside this box is a Bippolo Seed!
Plant it and wish! And then out up to three!
Whatever you wish for, whatever it be
Will sprout and grow out of a Bippolo Tree!”

McKluck decided he didn’t need much, just enough duck food for a week. So he dug a hole in the ground, but before he could drop in the seed he was interrupted by a large cat.

The cat convinced McKluck to wish for 500 pounds of duck food so that they could go into business together selling the food that the duck wouldn’t need!

“I never thought much about money till now.
But, golly, you’re right.
With some money, gee whiz,
Why, I’d be the happiest
duck that there is!”

Just as the duck was about to throw the Bippolo Seed into the hole the cat told him to think of even more stuff to wish for. So, the duck went on listing things that he wanted. He decided he and the cat would have a store where they cold sell all of it in the Notions Department!

“Then his mouth started steaming, his tongue got so hot.
But the more that he wished, the more greedy he got.”

The duck went on wishing until he yelled:

“Say, I’ll be the richest young duck in this world!”

And he got so excited that in a crazy dizzy twirl he waved his arms and the Bippolo Seed slipped out and flew into the river nearby where it sank and drifted away. The cat and the duck both dived in to look for it, but they never found it again.

“But if they should find one, that cat and that duck
Won’t wish for so much. And they’ll have better luck.”

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THE RABBIT, THE BEAR, AND THE ZINNIGA-ZANNIGA

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This parable of sorts starts with a “very big bear” that tries to eat a little rabbit. As the bear is approaching, the rabbit realizes he needs to think quick to get out of this predicament. He counts out loud to nine then stops and says:

“Only nine…? That’s a very bad sign! Poor bear!”

Then he counts again, but this time all the way up to ten. The bear is suspicious and asks if the rabbit is trying to say something is wrong with him. The rabbit admits that he is concerned for the bear, because he seems to only have nine eyelashes on one eye while he has the usual ten on the other. The bear is is not sure if he should be concerned at first, but the rabbit starts to play it up, like it is a big problem.

“‘And I guess that’s the reason,” the rabbit then said,
‘For the lop-sided way that you’re holding your head.
It’s twisted! It’s sagging! Because of the weight
of your un-even lashes, you can’t hold it straight!”

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Now the bear starts to worry. The rabbit keeps pointing out other ailments like a fuzzy tongue, a wuzzy brain, and a creaking backbone.

“Oh, the lack of an eyelash can make you a wreck.
The lack of an eyelash can break a bear’s neck!
Who knows what might happen! You may fall apart!
be careful, poor bear! Don’t you even dare cough
Or your feet and your tail and your nose may fall off!”

The bear starts to panic and asks for a solution to his problem. How can he get one more eyelash to grow? The rabbit points out that they are standing under a Zinniga-Zanniga Tree! He tells the bear that the juice of the flower of a Zinniga-Zanniga Tree is used to cure a number of ailments.

“Whooping Cough! Croup! Also colic and sprains
Chickenpox! Smallpox!  And bellyachee pains!
There’s nothing, they say, that this juice cannot do.
So I think, Mr. Bear, it’s the right juice for you.”

He tells the bear to pick a flower and hold it up to his eye and then, in a few hours, he’ll be cured. While the bear holds the flower up to his face the rabbit runs away. As he sprints to safety he says:

“It’s always the same
when you fight with Big Guys…
A bit of Quick-Thinking
counts much more than size!”

GUSTAV, THE GOLDFISH

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Gustav, the Goldfish is a none-stop thrilling tale of a young boy and his rapidly growing gold fish. When our narrator bought Gustav, the man that sold him was very specific about the feeding:

Take care! When you feed this small cuss
Just feed him a spot. If you feed him a lot,
Then something might happen! It’s hard to say what.”

But the boy was conflicted, because Gustav always seemed so hungry. So, one day he decided to dump in the whole box of fish food! He knew right away that something was wrong, because Gustav grew twice as long! Soon he was too big for his bowl, so our narrator put him in a large vase, but he kept growing. Next he put him in a large pot, but when the fish grew out of that he had to run Gustav up to the tub. Even the tub wasn’t big enough and the bathroom eventually overflowed with water.

Just as our hero thought he was going to drown, the door bursted open and they spilled down the stairs and into the cellar which filled up with water. At this point the boy ran up to the phone and called the man that sold Gustav to him. The man arrived quickly.

“With a lot of strange bottles tucked into his vest
And a thing on his back like a medicine chest.”

He headed straight for the cellar and worked on Gustav for over an hour! When he came up from the cellar he had Gustav back to his normal size in a small fishbowl. He told the boy that this time it was free, but if it happened again he would charge a large free. So, now our hero only feeds Gustav a spot of food and no more,

“‘Cause something might happen. And now I know what!

9780375964350-bippolo37_zoomTADD AND TODD

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Tadd and Todd were two identical twins that no one could tell apart. Todd really enjoyed being identical, but Tadd did not. Tadd wanted to look different so he dyed his hair with red ink. When he showed it to Todd, Todd went ahead and did the same thing so they were back to looking exactly the same.

Tadd realized that if he wanted to look different he was going to have to dress different. So he added a false tail, took off one shoe, and put a rose between his toes. He decided this probably was not enough so he got a weird looking bird and pulled it on a string. He wanted to make sure that when he walked down the street everyone would know that he was Tadd and not Todd. He realized that even his few changes were probably not enough to positively make sure that everyone could tell them apart so he added A LOT more things!

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“And NOW I’ll run home and I’ll show brother Todd
We’re NOT like two peas in a silly old pod!”

But as soon as he got home he ran into Todd,

“And saw that his brother was dressed up quite neatly
Exactly like he was! Precisely! COMPLETELY!”

Todd reasoned out that he looks like Tadd and Tadd looks like him and they’ll never look different whatever they do. To this Tadd sort of smiled and they went back to being two peas in a pod.

“And still no one knows when they meet with these two
If this one is that one, or that one is this one,
Or which one is what one, or what one is who

STEAK FOR SUPPER

A boy was walking home down Mulberry Street and thinking about what he was going to have for dinner. He shouted out loud that they always have steak every Saturday night! His father had warned him to button his lip, because you never can tell who may be listening. Soon enough our hero had an IKKA following him.

He started to worry, because they steaks his family usually has are pretty small and he knew there wouldn’t be enough for the IKKA. Then to make it worse the Ikka told a GRITCH to come along because there would be plenty of steak! The Gritch invites a GRICKLE. He knew his mom would be upset that he had been bragging and been followed home with a bunch of unexpected guests.

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To make matters worse the Grickle called out to a NUPPER and invited him a long for supper as well.

“I shivered. I wondered what Father would do
When I walked in the house with that terrible crew.
When Father saw them, there’s a very good chance
That I’d like get whaled on the seat of my pants.
And I guess if I did, it would serve me quite right
‘Cause I blabbed we had steak every Saturday night.”

Then the Nupper invited a couple of WILD WEEF. As our hero thinks of what his father and mother are going to do he opens the front door and smells stew instead of steak! The uninvited guests say Pooh to the stew and decide not to stay!

“And from that night to this I have never made slips.
I don’t talk when I walk, ’cause I’ve buttoned my lips.”

THE STRANGE SHIRT SPOT

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In this story a boy gets a big gooey spot on his new shirt. He knows he needs to clean it before his mother sees. He starts by rubbing it with a towel which works! But now the spot has transferred to the towel! So he takes the towel to the bathtub, but now of course the spot stuck to the tub! He sweeps the tub with a broom and now the spot is stuck to the broom. Then thinking that he had a big rag our hero accidentally gets the spot stuck to one of his mother’s dresses!

“This spot! It was driving me out of my mind!
What a spot – what spot for a fellow to find!
My troubles were growing. The way it kept going!
Where would it go next? There was no way of knowing.”

Then the cat walks in and bums the dress and the spot jumps onto the cat’s back. So our hero chases the cat and they tumble down the stairs. Then he got an idea! He would put the cat outside so the spot would finally be out of the house! But before he got to the door her realized that the spot was back on his shirt from picking up the cat! Right then his mother comes home and he told her the whole story!

“…and she said ‘Well, I guess
You’re lucky you didn’t get terribly hurt.
But please, in the future, STAY OUT OF THE DIRT!”

THE GREAT HENRY MCBRIDE

” ‘It’s hard to decide,’
Said young Henry McBride
‘It’s terribly, terribly hard to decide.
When a fellow grows up and turns into a man,
A fellow should pick the best job that he can.
But there’s so many jobs that would be so much fun,
It’s terribly hard to decide on just one.’ “

First, Henry McBride thinks about what it would be like to be a farmer where he would raise giant rabbits and be the big Rabbit-Man, Henry McBride. But then he reflects that he’s too smart and clever to just tie himself down to only one job forever. So, for his second job he decides to be a doctor, the Rabbit-Man, Dr. McBride!
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But if he can handle only two jobs then he can definitely do three! So he decides he’ll build a Radio Broadcasting Tower and be Broadcaster-Rabbit-Man-Doctor McBride! But he’s got lots of brains so he can take on four jobs! He’ll train seals for his fourth job! And of course cow-punching is great! So he’ll do that too! He’ll be the Seal-Training Doctor! The Broadcasting-Rabbit-Man, Two-Gun McBride!

“Yep! I’ll pick the very best job that I can
When I finally grow up and turn into a man.
But now…well, right now when I’m still sort of small,
The best job is dreaming, with no work at all.”

HISTORY:

STEAKYou will not find Charles D. Cohen’s name on the cover of The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories because he is a true and honest Dr. Seuss fan through and through. He knows these stories were written by Seuss and that he should get all the credit. Charles D. Cohen may be my personal hero. He is the author of one of my source books The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, And Nothing But The Seuss.

The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories does include a forward by Charles D. Cohen explaining how these stories came about. Through lots of research and by traveling to several libraries, Cohen was able to put together a collection of short stories that Seuss wrote from 1948 through 1959 for various magazines.

In the forward Cohen tells us about a woman that wrote to Seuss four months before he died saying that, as a child, she loved “The Bippolo Seed” and was wondering if it was ever going to be published in a book. Seuss wrote her back and

“thanked her ‘for still liking that old story’ and explained, ‘For some reason or other it never found its way into a book. But, since you still like it, maybe now it will!‘ Twenty years later, his hopeful prediction has finally come true.”

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Charles D. Cohen also reveals that the book A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer (Seuss’ first wife) was based on Seuss’ story Gustav the Goldfish.
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The two stories are identical in plot points, but Helen’s story does not rhyme and is illustrated by P.D. Eastman (writer and illustrator of Go, Dog, Go! and Are You My Mother?) The illustrations are almost identical in format, but very distinct in style.

stairs-fishBelow is the 1950 Redbook original version of the story. This new collection of Seuss stories includes his original illustrations from this Redbook version and gives the story back it’s rhythm and rhyme.

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“The Strange Shirt Spot” is obviously familiar. This story was originally published in Redbook in 1951, but Seuss developed it even further in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back in 1958.
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“These stories reflect a change in Ted’s [Seuss’s real name] approach to writing for children. Before World War II, he did not consider his children’s books particularly important. But after observing German and Japanese children reared on propaganda (which he called ‘the worst educational crime in the entire history of the world’), he began to take his work more seriously, developing a new philosophy about educating children through reading.” – Charles D. Cohen

Cohen also explains that these stories mark a transition in his rhyming style as well. Many of his earliest books do not rhyme, but after a very young child in Salt Lake City, Utah was able to recite Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose in it’s entirety just from hearing it, Seuss realized that the sound of the words was just as important as the visuals he drew to go along with them.

I absolutely love this wonderful collection of stories by Dr. Seuss. Cohen has put together a time capsule and a wonderful insight into how Seuss developed over the years. Cohen hasn’t stopped there. There is a second collection Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories which I will write about in my next post!

Here is a link to a great list of Seuss Redbook publications.

http://1stedition.net/blog/2006/06/dr_seuss_redbook_magazine_orig.html

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Yep! I’ll pick the very best job that I can
When I finally grow up and turn into a man.
But now…well, right now when I’m still sort of small,
The best job is dreaming, with no work at all.”

– From The Great Henry McBride

FAVORITE IMAGE:

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Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

MY MANY COLORED DAYS

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Published in the U.S. by Alfred A. Knopf, New York in 1996.
Distributed by Random House.
Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher.

SUMMARY:

My Many Colored Days covers a gambit of emotions expressed through color. The text of the book is very simple and poetic leaving room for full page gorgeous illustrations. Our main character is a sort of cookie-cutter shape, but as the book goes on the emotions are not only expressed through color, but also different animals. There is not really a plot, so a summary is sort of silly. Instead, here are several pages from the book so you can see how it progresses.

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“You’d be surprised how many ways I change on Different Colored Days.”

 

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Toward the end of the book we see our cookie-cutter character in all the different colors expressed throughout the book. He/she is scattered across the page.

“Then comes a Mixed-Up Day. And WHAM! I don’t know who or what I am!”

On the final page we see the different colors coming together and our main character is “back to being…me.”

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HISTORY:

There are two dedication, both at the back of the book.

To Ted, who colored my days…and my life.
– Audrey Geisel

For Denise and Frances.
– Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher

This is a posthumous publication. The text was taken from a draft that Seuss wrote in 1973. On the dust jacket Audrey Geisel, Seuss’ second wife, is quoted saying:

“Though the inspiration for this book was personal, he [Seuss] felt that someone else should bring his or her own vision to it. He wanted the illustrations to be very different from his.”

There is a letter from Seuss to friend Phyllis Jackson which has shed some light on the intended publication of this work. A bit of the letter is quoted on the front of the dust jacket which suggests that Seuss seems to have had in mind

“a great color artist who will not be dominated by me.”

Philip Nel explores the letter further in his book Dr. Seuss: American Icon. He points out that Seuss also wrote in the same letter,

“Of course I would love to paint this book myself, but I have so many major Dr. Seuss books that I have got to do, I just won’t have time.”

Seuss also states in the letter that this book was,

“one of three I am working on for next year’s [1974’s] Beginner Book Bright and Early line, under different bylines. One will probably be a Seuss, one a LeSieg, and this color book probably under another nom de plume”

This seems to have been completely disregarded as the book was published under “Dr. Seuss”. I agree with Philip Nel on this one; they should have published it under “LeSieg” since it was illustrated by someone else, or they should have written a forward to explain the process. Of course, since it is a posthumous book they want to honor Dr. Seuss and put his name on it, but since we have proof that he intended to publish it under a different name, I think that should have been honored as well.

I absolutely love the illustrations and I think they do the writing justice, but it would have been nice to have a section at the beginning to give the readers some context about why it is illustrated the way it is and still published under the pen name “Dr. Seuss”.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Gray Day…Everything is gray. I watch. But nothing moves today.”

This quote just captures my slow days. I’m not necessarily sad, but I find it hard to get up and get going and I just sit around watching life instead of being apart of it.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

Especially compared to my favorite quote, this page is so alive and fun! I love these days!

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Thanks 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

 

 

The Shape of Me and Other Stuff


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Published 1973 by Random House Inc.

SUMMARY:

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The story starts with a young boy talking to a young girl about how no two shapes are the same. He lists a bunch of different shapes, starting out fairly simple; balloon, bed, bike, fish.

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He eventually moves on to more complicated things like machines, elephants, ships, dripping water, etc.

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Then the girl takes over and starts to point out the shapes of different things. She is instantly more creative thinking of the shape of gum as a stick, all chewed up, and as a bubble. She even thinks of the shape of smoke. For a little bit she goes back to more every day things like roosters, horses, tires, clothes, etc. Then she gets much more imaginative by thinking of the shapes of things that don’t even exist. She gets even more creative and actually names one of a BLOGG!

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She ends the story by saying:

“Of all
the shapes
we MIGHT have been…

I say, ‘HOORAY
for the shapes we’re in.”

HISTORY:

Like most Bright & Early Books there is no dedication.

Seuss was influenced by some black and white illustrations he saw in a plane magazine. They were of primitive stone-cutting silhouettes by Inuits of northern Quebec. He said they were, “about the strongest illustrations I’ve ever seen.” The entire book is done in silhouettes, but it does not lack color. The book was almost published under Seuss’ other pen name Theo LeSeig which is used for books he writes, but  does not illustrate.

The first half of the book is narrated by a young boy and is mostly everyday shapes. The second half is narrated by a young girl. The girl goes into more creative shapes that explore imagination. In the story “The Glunk That Got Thunk” the young girl is repremanded for being too imaginative and getting herself into trouble. Seuss seems to have taken that back in this story by showing that girls can think more creatively and not get into trouble for it.

The original cover has only the boy with other silhouettes. For once I am actually in agreement with the changes made for the new cover. Considering the girl narrates more than the boy does I think it’s important that they are both on the cover. I also like that the silhouettes are in different colors showing that the inside is not just in black silhouettes which would be a bit boring for a children’s book.

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

“The shape of you
the shape of me
the shape of everything I see…

a bug…
a balloon
a bed
a bike.

No shapes are ever quite alike.”

FAVORITE IMAGE:

In the actual book the page is a brighter yellow and the silhouettes are in a darker teal. Also the girl is cut off so you don’t see her back leg and the right arm was added in.

I just really enjoy the simplicity of the image. Roasting marshmallows just seems so comforting

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Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

Did I Ever Tell You How LUCKY YOU ARE?

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Published 1973 by Random House Inc.

SUMMARY:

The story is narrated by a character named Duckie that used to visit an old man in the Desert of Drize when he was a young boy. The old man sat on top of a prickly cactus, but had a big smile on his face. He would sing a song to Duckie about just how lucky Duckie is. The song is the rest of the story. There is no music set to it and it is read like most other Seuss books; just full of great rhymes and roll-off-the-tongue rhythm.

“When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad…
you should do what I do!

Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more…
oh, ever so much more…
oh, muchly much-much more
unlucky than you!”

From there the old man gives lots of examples of people that are much more unlucky than Duckie aka “you.” Throughout the examples the images are very important to the explanation of why they are so unlucky. The first image is of several men in uniform working on a Seussian bridge that is pure chaos. There are ladders everywhere and boards/bricks/nails being lifted every which way. There is a crane and a pulley, as well as a man standing on another man’s shoulders holding up the bulk of the bridge. It’s a great image and keeps the reader’s attention for much longer than it takes to read the text.

The next few pages follow the same pattern of massive chaotic images that spread across the page and explain why the people depicted are much more unlucky than “you”.

After that we get a few pages that are a little calmer on the eyes. One is a huge green field with a small boy named Ali Sard who has to mow his uncle’s backyard. The grass grows as he mows it and he gets paid barely anything to do it! So, on Sundays he paints flagpoles dangerously high of the ground just to pick up extra cash.

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There is also the Bee-Watcher in Hawtch-Hawtch. The bee works harder when it’s being watched so there is a Bee-Watcher to stand by and stare at the bee to make sure it works harder. When the bee starts to slack people in Hawtch-Hawtch think the Bee-Watcher should be watched to make him work harder. This continues creating a huge line of Hawtch-Watchers!

Then we see some ominous lonely pages with lots of arches and darker colors. In each of these we see someone or something that is alone or left behind. First, there is Gucky Gown who lives by himself in the rundown Ruins of Ronk. Then there is a left sock that was left behind in the Kaverns of Krock with only a mouse staring on. Lastly there is a hanger hooked onto an otherwise empty line spread between two high cliff tops with a winding river disappearing into the distance. This ends the examples the old man gives.

He sums up by saying:

“That’s why I say, “Duckie!
Don’t grumble! Don’t stew!
Some critters are much-much,
oh, ever so much-much
so muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”

And the boy joins the old man on a prickly cactus with a big smile on his face.

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ABOUT:

This book is very unique in the sense that barely any of the unluckiness is actually explained in the text. The text is rather simple and not very descriptive, like:

“And the Brothers Ba-zoo.
The poor Brothers Ba-zoo!
Suppose your hair grew
like theirs happened to do!
You think you’re unlucky…?
I’m telling you, Duckie,
some people are muchly,
oh, ever so muchly,
muchly more-more-more unlucky than you!”

The image that goes with it shows an endless line of old men whose beards become the man in front of them’s hair. This means, that they are all connected by a long line of hair/beard that is only broken up by their faces. The text itself would not leave much of an impression of why the Brothers Ba-zoo are unlucky, but it leads the reader to look at the image for an explanation. This makes the book a GREAT book to read out loud to a class of young students. The teacher reads the text which peaks the audience’s interest. Then the teacher turns the book to reveal the amazingly, fully-colored, full-spread images so that the students lean in because they have been anticipating why the Brother Ba-zoo are so unlucky.

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The images go from chaotic and full of busyness to empty, lonely spreads. This also helps with reading to children, because it grabs their attention early on and then winds them down as the book comes to a close. The last two examples are of inanimate objects that are unlucky, where as, the rest of the book gives examples of people that are unlucky. I find this very interesting, but have not been able to connect it to any philosophy that Seuss may have been trying to symbolize.

HISTORY:

The connected beards from the Brothers Ba-zoo page are a common theme in Seuss’ previous work. In his short term comic called Hejji there are two goats connected by a beard. In his feature length live-action film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T there are two roller-skating guards also connected by a beard. Even in his political cartoons he depicts “Nazism” and “the America First Movement” as “The men with the Siamese Beard.”

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As you can see in the images in this post, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? is printed in full color. In The Lorax, which was printed just prior to this book, there is also full color. At first it feels like there is some aspect of Seussian art missing in these books, because they are not the usual yellow, red and teal of the bulk of his work. In The Lorax, color is so important to the feel of “clean” versus “polluted” and by this point Seuss was so popular that Random House could afford to publish his books in full color. The feeling of “busyness” versus “loneliness” in Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? is furthered by the use of color. At the beginning there are lots of different colors used in tiny detailed spaces, where as, at the end of the book there are large expanses of empty space and solid color. Not only the amount of colors, but also the shade/tone of the colors helps set the mood for each particular page. It makes one wonder how different his earlier books would feel if they were printed in full color, but that is best left untampered with.

The dedication is very personalized. It is in a font meant to look like handwriting and has an adorable little smiling bird-creature accompanying the words:

“This Book,
With Love,
is for
Phyllis
the Jackson”

Phyllis Jackson was Seuss’ longtime agent of over 30 years. She died suddenly of cardiac arrest four years after this dedication in March of 1977. Seuss was shocked by her death and did little more than sit in a chair for three days after he heard of it. He attempted to make peace with his grief by writing a short verse titled “How Long Is Long” and dedicated it to her “with all my love.”

How Long Is Long?

“I’ll be seein’ ya,” I said.
And I said, “So long!”
When you say So Long
it’s not usually too long…
But sometimes
So Long
is forever.
So…
So Long,
Pal,
I guess I won’t be seein’ ya.”

FAVORITE IMAGE:

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This image is so fun! It’s like a Where’s Waldo book; so much to see! I love the guy poking the other guy with his cane!

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Think they work you too hard…?
Think of poor Ali Sard!
He has to mow grass in his uncle’s back yard
and it’s quick-growing grass
and it grows as he mows it.
The faster he mows it, the faster he grows it.
And all that his stingy old uncle will pay
for his shoving that mower around in that hay
is the piffulous pay of two Dooklas a day.
And Ali can’t live on such piffulous pay!”

I really enjoy the rhythm and the rhyme of “mows it” and “grows it”. The combination of “piffulous pay” is also just super fun. My mouth just enjoyed reading this quote the most.

Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor