“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”
Who out there is more quotable than Dr. Seuss? Whether you’ve grown up with a stack of his books at your bedside or were introduced to the legendary Theodor Seuss Geisel at a later age when his stories began to meet the big screen, we all have a few of his always-relevant quotes lodged in the back of our minds. My mother has since gotten rid of my Seuss book collection (something I haven’t quite forgiven) but the bright colors and whimsical characters in each book bring back some of my earliest memories of reading as a child.
During those young, carefree days, a red fish was just a red fish and a blue fish was just a blue fish. As I’ve gotten older, learned more about Seuss’s background, and taken another look at these literary classics, the interlaced political stances in his children’s books have become more apparent. For example, in The Sneetches, the Star-Bellied Sneetches feel superior and are prejudiced towards the Plain-Bellied Sneetches, starting a conversation about racism in many young families. Seuss was actually using these imaginary characters to make a statement against anti-Semitism. In this fictional story, all turned out just fine as one of the closing lines in The Sneetches says,
“I’m quite happy to say
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.”
Dr. Seuss’s light-hearted poems made the initiation of these conversations much easier and started to instill values in children without them even realizing they were learning. From the pro-democracy voice narrating Horton Hears a Who to the nature-loving environmentalism in The Lorax, Seuss really planted important values into the minds of his readers at an age where they needed it most.
We thought we had seen the last of Dr. Seuss’s fluorescent characters and sing-songy rhymes, but we were proven wrong in April of this year. According to CNN, Geisel’s widow, Audrey, had found a manuscript and illustrations in their home soon after her husband had passed. They were set aside and rediscovered in 2013. It was announced that these materials would comprise What Pet Should I Get?, the first Seuss book since 1990’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, to be published on July 28th. The new book is about decision-making when a family tries to figure out, yep, what pet they should get.
How did these silly stories become such an essential part of childhood? On Wednesday, July 15th, you can gain further insights into the life of this literary mastermind at an unforgettable evening program. Children’s literature and Seuss scholar, Philip Nel, will guide a lecture and conversation on the energy and surrealism in Seuss’s work along with the political topics he often chose to address. Learn how Theodor Geisel got his start, at first in advertising, and how his influence lives on in editorial cartoons and hip-hop lyrics. The event will be followed by a light reception featuring the perfect complementary dish: green eggs & ham.
The first Seuss book in twenty-five years is an incredible reason to celebrate. I hope to see you there!
Event link: http://ow.ly/OX5Ui
Makenzie McNeill, Social Media Intern