The definitive, fascinating, all-reaching biography of Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss is a classic American icon. Whimsical and wonderful, his work has defined our childhoods and the childhoods of our own children. The silly, simple rhymes are a bottomless well of magic, his illustrations timeless favorites because, quite simply, he makes us laugh. The Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, Horton, and so many more, are his troupe of beloved, and uniquely Seussian, creations.
Theodor Geisel, however, had a second, more radical side. It is there that the allure and fasciation of his Dr. Seuss alter ego begins. He had a successful career as an advertising man and then as a political cartoonist, his personal convictions appearing, not always subtly, throughout his books—remember the environmentalist of The Lorax? Geisel was a complicated man on an important mission. He introduced generations to the wonders of reading while teaching young people about empathy and how to treat others well.
Agonizing over word choices and rhymes, touching up drawings sometimes for years, he upheld a rigorous standard of perfection for his work. Geisel took his responsibility as a writer for children seriously, talking down to no reader, no matter how small. And with classics like Green Eggs and Ham, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Geisel delighted them while they learned. Suddenly, reading became fun.
Coming right off the heels of George Lucas and bestselling Jim Henson, Brian Jay Jones is quickly developing a reputation as a master biographer of the creative geniuses of our time.
Biographer Jones (George Lucas) delivers a comprehensive and thoughtful look at famed children's author Theodor Geisel (1904 1991). The book's early sections reveal Geisel Seuss was his mother's maiden name as an indifferent student who found his calling in humor and drawing, moving from Dartmouth College's Jacko magazine, to advertising, to Frank Capra's Army information unit during WWII. Though he entered children's literature on a fluke an otherwise restrictive contract with advertising client Standard Oil didn't bar him from it he soon became convinced of this work's importance. Determined to make reading fun and never talk down to children, he produced his now-familiar classics, with their zany illustrations and tongue-tickling texts. In addition to the fun, however, Geisel did feel compelled to address important issues at times, such as environmentalism in The Lorax. Jones does not ignore problems in Geisel's early work, including some racial stereotypes. He also gives full credit to Geisel's first wife, Helen, as a guiding hand for some of Geisel's best-loved books. While acknowledging Geisel's flaws and debts to others, Jones convincingly shows him as a transformative figure in children's publishing, both as author and cofounder of the Beginner Books imprint. Fans of Dr. Seuss will find much to love in this candid but admiring portrait.