Librarian tattoos and Cat in the Hat cookies are just two ways I’ll be celebrating Read Across America Day today. Since 1998, the National Education Association has sponsored this countrywide celebration of reading for children and adults. March 2 is also the 111th birthday of Theodor Geisel, the word wizard better known as beloved author Dr. Seuss. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and three Academy Awards, Geisel wrote and illustrated dozens of children's books that are considered classics. Dr. Seuss and his creation, The Cat in the Hat, are the friendly, honorary faces of Read Across America Day.
To celebrate reading, kids will dress in red and white striped Cat in the Hat gear. Actors, athletes, principals, and even the politicians who slash library budgets will read favorites such as Hop on Pop and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to audiences high on Lorax lemonade. The day exists to celebrate reading and to motivate kids to read.
Despite not having children of his own (and the subject of rumors that he did not like or understand children), Seuss’ books nevertheless have captured the imaginations and tickled the funny bones of children for decades. Many parents relish sharing their favorite Seuss book with their children. On the other hand, many parents have confided to me that the Seuss books, with their tongue twisting wordplay and infernally catchy rhythms, are a source of nightmares (for them, not their children). Dr. Seuss is a 50/50 for many parents: you love him or you hate him.
If you are in the 50% that dislikes Dr. Seuss, you won’t be cheered to hear that a new Seuss manuscript has been discovered and is heading to bookstores this summer. Seuss’ widow, Audrey Geisel, discovered papers and sketches that had been set aside years ago by her husband in their La Jolla, CA, home. Random House’s staff and other Seuss experts worked to piece together the unfinished sketches and text into What Pet Should I Get?
The publisher has referred to this discovery as “finding buried treasure,” and if you are in the 50% that loves Dr. Seuss, your excitement is high.
Last year a collection of Seuss stories that had been printed in magazines close to 50 years ago appeared: Horton and the Kwuggebug and More Lost Stories. Since I haven’t had a child actually request Horton and the Kwuggebug nor The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, another book of lost Seuss stories, I am hoping that What Pet Should I Get? will be more Cat in the Hat caliber and less Bippolo.
One wonders how the good Doctor would feel about the publication of these stories. Were they his novel in the drawer that authors can’t bring themselves to throw away, but know that they don’t want to see the light of day? Will the new book be cause for celebration? We’ll find out in July.
Are you a Seuss fan? If so, what’s your favorite Dr. Seuss story?