Award-winning author Kathleen Krull zeros in on the formative first 22 years of the life of Ted Geisel. This is the first picture book biography of Dr. Seuss, written especially for his young fans who want to know what made him tick. The animals in the zoo that his father ran and his fondness for drawing them, the injustices he suffered as the child of German immigrants, and his inherent sense of humor all fed into the imagination of this boy. He was a square peg in a round hole until he found that he could make a living doing exactly what he pleased—doodling and writing funny things about the world as he saw it.
The last section of the book outlines the important events in his adult life. In addition to the evocative paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, the book is profusely decorated with art from Dr. Seuss books.
Krull's (V Is for Victory) fond tribute to Dr. Seuss focuses on the well-loved author/artist's youth. Growing up in Springfield, Mass., Ted Geisel "feasted on books and was wild about animals" and "excelled at fooling around." The informal, anecdotal narrative explains that Geisel early on demonstrated a passion for drawing (even on his bedroom walls) "whatever popped into his head." He took only one art class, in high school, and quit when the teacher scolded him for "breaking rules" and told him he would never be successful. While attending Dartmouth, Geisel was admired for his "talent for silliness" and, Krull notes with comic irony, "He was clearly gifted, though no one knew at exactly what. It wasn't as if men could doodle for a living." The tale ends rather abruptly as the 22-year-old Geisel arrives in New York City to embark on his artistic career. A four-page addendum, presented in a smaller font, chronicles the highlights of Dr. Seuss's publishing career and provides intriguing tidbits about the creation of some of his beloved books. Johnson and Fancher's (New York's Bravest) representational, nostalgic paintings effectively evoke both the period and Geisel's appealingly puckish personality. Featured in spot art, familiar Seuss characters frolic through these pages, thematically complementing the illustrations while reminding readers why Geisel's life is worth celebrating. Ages 6-12.