Category Archives: Dr. Seuss

“Oh, no! Not Dr. Seuss!”

“And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “The Cat’s Quizzer,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!” and “Scrambled Eggs Super!”

Apparently, according to conservative-minded friends and cousins on Facebook, evil liberal Democrats are out to cancel and get rid of Dr. Seuss. They are taking seriously the warnings of the good-hearted, common-sense broadcasters at OAN and Fox News and rushing out to buy copies of Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, Green Eggs and Ham, and Oh, the Places You’ll Go before the communist-leaning book-burning enemies of the people get ahold of them.

I say to this dire warning, “Okay! Great! Buy every wonderful Dr. Seuss book you can get your hands on! That’s the right thing to do!”

But I would be remiss in my duty not to also say, “Don’t spend a thousand dollars on e-Bay to get a copy of And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street.

Let me say this, as a teacher who taught reading skills in all of my thirty-one years as a public school teacher, I always made use of Dr. Seuss books whenever and wherever possible, even reading Fox in Sox aloud to gifted students (and reading those tongue-tying tongue-twizzlers as fast as it is possible to read aloud without wrapping my tongue around my eye teeth and crashing into my molars because I couldn’t see what I was saying.) (Which the kids always found profoundly entertaining.) And I celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday every March since that became a thing in 1988.

But I also think that we have to recognize that Theodore Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss, is a man from a different time. Some of the tropes and techniques he learned and employed in the 1940s as a political cartoonist and ad illustrator are no longer appropriate in the time of George Floyd and Asians being attacked over the “Wuhan Kung Flu.”

Remember, his cartoon skills were developed back when America was fighting propaganda wars with the Axis powers.

So, in some of his works, he may have been guilty of some outdated thinking and is unintentionally racist in some of the things he cartooned and thought were funny.

And of the books that will no longer be published, I admit that I read and enjoyed If I Ran the Zoo while I was learning to read in the first grade. And I think I read McElligot’s Pool in school in 1965, but I don’t really remember what was down there at the bottom under the protagonist’s fishhook. I looked up a hard-to-find copy of And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street in 2009, and saw that it was not really right for my ESL class at that time. The other three controversial books I haven’t even heard of before this whole thing first outraged Fox News reporters. These six books were not available for purchase from either Barnes and Noble or the Dr. Seuss website before the controversy.

So, I love Dr. Seuss. But I am not worried. Democrats and liberals like me are not trying to do away with Dr. Seuss. In fact, Random House publishers are not even the ones who decided. Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy, announced it would cease sales of these books. So, this is purely editorial in nature and certainly within the rights of Dr. Seuss’s family, friends, and promoters to do.

But by all means, buy up more Dr. Seuss books! Give them to kids you care about! I can’t think of anything I would rather have conservatives, Republicans, and Fox News viewers doing than reading about Horton, the Grinch, Sam-I-Am. and Daisy-head Maisy.

6 Comments

Filed under angry rant, art criticism, book review, commentary, Dr. Seuss, politics

For the Love of Reading!

c360_2017-01-02-10-17-06-058

Yes, I know it looks awkwardly painful to read on the floor in a scroochy position like that, but that was me as a kid.  I was the awkwardest nerd in Wright County, Iowa, when I was a boy.  But Dr. Seuss taught me early on to read and enjoy the imaginary worlds that reading created in my stupid little head.

I don’t remember the first actual book I read, other than to firmly believe it was a Dr. Seuss book like Yertle the Turtle, or Horton Hears a Who!  But I do remember the first chapter book, the first great adventure.  It was The White Stag by Kate Seredy.  It was the Newberry Medal winner published in 1937, and told the mythical journey of Hunor and Magyar, two brothers and leaders of two peoples who are on an epic quest to find the land where they belong by following a magical white stag.

the_white_stag

I was nine when I read and fell in love with that book.  I picked it off Miss Mennenga’s reading shelf because it was a simple red book with a plain red cover (the paper illustrated book cover had long since disintegrated in kids’ hands over time.)  Red was my favorite color.

But I fell in love with the movie version that unfolded in my mind’s eye.  It was when I learned to dive so deeply into a  book that the characters became real to me.

The following year when I was ten the book was Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Jim Hawkins was my best friend that year.  That was followed by Rudyard Kipling’s First Jungle Book.  I walked around the jungle with Mowgli and Bagheera the black panther for quite a while after that.

I think it is important to often look back on the beginnings of things.  This is the story of how I became a reader for life.  And it matters now that I am furiously trying to cram in more books of all sorts before the end.  The journey nears completion, and it helps to focus on what goals and what loves I had at the outset.  Will there be reading in Heaven?  I hope so.  Otherwise, truthfully, I may not go.

3 Comments

Filed under autobiography, book review, Dr. Seuss, education, humor, reading, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Good Doctor Seuss

Dr.-Seuss1

I’ll say it again while my tongue is not loose,

I did learn to read from the good Doctor Seuss!

Yes, this writer I have chosen to talk about today, this wunderful wubble of werfinsky cartoons and sniggly sayer of savantish snapoons, is, perhaps, the most important literary influence on my life.  Back in the early 1960’s my parents bought a subscription to Dr. Seuss books that were written in simple, easy words… but the secret was always in the pictures and the sounds.  Yes, the sounds.  It’s the sounds that you see which will bollox the ear, and sear into your memory for many a year.  Oh, and the rhymes… the rhymes make a memory for many old times.  See if you can get that out of your head.  I bet you can’t.  The rhythm will make you remember instead.

P0pZY_ge1f8cMVvwYv8wiO2MJUo7HJTaQaeOejCdfqM9dvLCcGTdRScLNuNQ33bVbg=w705

The secret is how with picture and word the old master teaches you painlessly how to read.  I loved Dr. Seuss as a child.  I loved him even more when I was a teacher who often had to teach middle school and high school students belatedly how to read.  I can’t tell you how many times I read Dr. Seuss books out loud while students looked at the words.  I can’t tell you because it is such a big number that my old teacher-brain swells with the effort to remember and count.  And it is not merely the reading skill you learn from this, especially the reading a book like Fox in Socks.  Some time in the future when I regain a bit of health, I’ll have to show you on YouTube the tantalizing tongue training I went through with Fox in Socks.  

Fox-in-Socks---Dr.--pTRU1-16059685dt

You learn life lessons from Dr. Seuss.  He not only made me a reader, he helped shape the sort of man I am.

Screen-Shot-2014-07-18-at-4.41.13-PM2

The Lorax taught us about conservation of resources.  The Sneetches teach us not to have foolish prejudices based on surface differences.  He inspires us to be better than we are.

Seuss-quotes-1

Seuss-quotes-6

Seuss-quotes-10

So here is the thing that I want to say,

If you read Dr. Seuss, there’s no better way,

To learn about life, and learn how to play,

And be the best you for all of your days.

Leave a comment

Filed under book reports, cartoon review, Dr. Seuss, humor, old books, philosophy, strange and wonderful ideas about life, teaching