Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! 7 Fascinating Facts About the Beloved Children’s AuthorAlice Gomstyn
“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere.”
So go, in my opinion, the best lines from the Dr. Seuss classic, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.
Like countless others, I consider Dr. Seuss to be my absolute favorite children’s author. His stories were different, fun and, yes, funny. Re-reading the same books over and over to your child can quickly become a tedious activity, but for me, that’s not true of Dr. Seuss books. His rhymes are a pleasure to read aloud — and the whimsical, other-worldly illustrations that accompany them never get old.
But if Dr. Seuss were alive today, he would be old — very old. March 2 is his birthday, and this year, he would have turned 110. There are no shortage of celebrations feting The Cat in the Hat creator: PBS KIDS has introduced an online game allowing kids to build “Seussian” roller coasters and will air a one-hour special of its animated series, The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That! on March 3. Meanwhile, Random House Children’s Books has launched a Dr. Seuss Birthday Club.
My 15-month-old isn’t quite ready for TV specials and computer games, but we’ll certainly keep enjoying Dr. Seuss’ books together. Meanwhile, here’s something grown-ups can also enjoy: 7 facts about Dr. Seuss — real name: Theodor Seuss Geisel — that might surprise even devoted Seussophiles.
1. The Mischievous Origin of “Seuss”
Geisel wasn’t exactly a bad boy, but he did throw a college party that, as his official online biography puts it, “did not coincide with school policy.” As part of the disciplinary action against him, Geisel was removed from his position as editor of Dartmouth College’s humor magazine, The Jack-O-Lantern. Geisel, of course, kept drawing — but instead of signing his cartoons with his real name, he used various pen names, including, for the first time, Seuss.
2. The Good Doctor
Geisel added “Dr.” to his pen name when he began writing for a professional humor magazine in New York. “I started to do a feature called Boids and Beasties.’ It was a mock-zoological thing, and I put the Dr.’ on the Seuss’ to make me sound more professorial,” Geisel said in the book The Beginnings of Dr. Seuss.
3. Creamy Compensation
The humor magazine in New York didn’t always pay Geisel in cash. Once, he got paid in 100 cartons of shaving cream and hundreds of nail clippers.
4. Meet Private Snafu
During World War II, Geisel contributed to the war effort by developing animated training films for soldiers. The films included a trainee called Private Snafu. The Private Snafu scripts overseen by Geisel were set to rhyme.
5. Seuss for Adults
The Butter Battle Book, arguably the most controversial Dr. Seuss book, was written during the Reagan administration and inspired by the Cold War. The illustrated book spent six weeks on The New York Times bestseller list for adults.
6. Cuckoo for Seuss
Where did Dr. Seuss get his ideas? Geisel often had a joking answer whenever anyone asked him that question: Uber Gletch — the name of the town in Switzerland where he traveled every year to have his cuckoo clock repaired.
7. The Glad Hatter
Why does a cat need a hat, anyway? Dr. Seuss’s decision to accessorize his most famous character might have a little something to do with the author’s own love of hats — he had a collection of hundreds in his home. That collection is now touring the country in venues from Massachusetts to California.
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Top left photo credit: Courtesy of Series copyright 2010, CITH Productions, Inc. and Red Hat Animation, Limited. Underlying characters copyright 1957, 1985 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.