Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
--by Hanje Richards
Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. During his lifetime, he published over 60 children's books, which were often characterized by imaginative characters and rhyme. He wrote and illustrated books that were truly for “children of all ages.”.
In 2000, Publishers Weekly compiled a list of the best-selling children’s books of all time. Of the top 100 hardcover books, 16 were written by Dr. Seuss, including Green Eggs and Ham at number 4, The Cat in the Hat at number 9, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish at number 13. Two of the books that he wrote for adults with the same style as his children’s books are Oh, The Places You’ll Go! and You’re Only Old Once!.
In 1937, while Geisel was returning from an ocean voyage to Europe, the rhythm of the ship's engines inspired the poem that became his first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street..
Many of Geisel's books are thought to express his views on a myriad of social and political issues: The Lorax (1971), about environmentalism and anti-consumerism; The Sneetches (1961), about racial equality; The Butter Battle Book (1984), about the arms race; Yertle the Turtle (1958), about anti-fascism and anti-authoritarianism; How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957), about anti-materialism; and Horton Hears a Who! (1954), about anti-isolationism and internationalism.
Dr.Seuss illustrated his books as well as writing them. His earlier artwork often employed the shaded texture of pencil drawings or watercolors, but in children's books of the postwar period, he generally employed the starker medium of pen and ink, normally using just black, white, and one or two colors. Later books used more colors..
In his distinctive artwork, Geisel's figures are often rounded and somewhat droopy. This is true, for instance, the faces of some of his characters. It is also true of virtually all buildings and machinery that he drew, although these objects abound in straight lines in real life.
Geisel enjoyed drawing architecturally elaborate objects. His endlessly varied (but never rectilinear) palaces, ramps, platforms, and free-standing stairways are among his most evocative creations. He also drew elaborate imaginary machines and liked drawing outlandish arrangements of feathers or fur..
Geisel's images often convey motion vividly. He was fond of a sort of voilà gesture, in which the hand flips outward, spreading the fingers slightly backward with the thumb up. He was also fond of drawing hands with interlocked fingers, which looked as though the characters were twiddling their thumbs. He also follows the cartoon tradition of showing motion with lines. He uses line to illustrate the action of the senses (sight, smell, and hearing) and even of thought..
If you or your children or grandchildren have ever enjoyed a book by Dr.Seuss, share one of his books with someone on his birthday -- or any day. And if, by some chance, you have managed to miss the joy that is Seuss, visit the Copper Queen Library, browse through the 60+ titles we own (books, audiobooks, and movies), and choose a few to take home and enjoy today! You'll be glad you did....u
Check back tomorrow for a special Dr. Seuss birthday poem!