Guest Author - Carol Taller
Theodor Seuss Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was best known and loved as a children’s book author and illustrator with a colorful imagination and fun rhyming patterns.
His father owned a brewery until the prohibition when selling alcohol was made illegal. After that he took a job working for the city park system. It is believed that Theodor’s many visits to the local zoo inspired many of his animal drawings and helped him achieve his unique style even though he never had any instruction in art. The animals used in his books could be a bizarre mixture of camel and centipede with a silly hat on their head, but these creatures worked well with the story being told.
Many of his drawings were taken from his early life in Springfield. It is believed that imagery from Springfield’s Forest Park can be seen when looking at Theodor’s drawings of Horton the Elephant. In the book “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street” a character appears looking unusually like Springfield’s Mayor Fordis Parker, and the town's colors and popular imagery pop up within many of his illustrations throughout his career.
Theodor left Springfield to attend Dartmouth College and became the editor in chief of their humor magazine “Jack-O-Lantern”. He was removed from this position when caught drinking with friends against school policy, but he continued to contribute to the publication. He signed his works “Seuss”; this is the first record of him using his middle name as a pseudonym.
After college Theodor went to Oxford University in England. He got bored at school and decided to tour Europe instead. During this time he met his first wife, Helen Parker Giesel.
When he returned home he worked in advertising for fifteen years and then joined the army. He began making documentaries and animated cartoons. And then he began drawing and selling his cartoons to national magazines.
Like a puzzle, Theodor’s books told a story using very few words. His most famous book “The Cat In the Hat” has only 223 different words. His second most popular book “Green Eggs and Ham” had only 50 unique words. His books taught a universal “guideline” that both children and adults could relate to.
Surprisingly enough, Theodor did not have any children of his own. He did have step children from his second wife, Audrey Stone Dimond.
Theodor wrote a total of 47 children’s books before he died on September 24, 1991. His books were translated into 20 different languages and sold over 200 million copies.