Hooray! It's Dr. Seuss Day!
Good morning, dear readers. Do you know what today- March 2nd- is?
Have you puzzled and puzzed till your puzzler is sore? Well, if you’re a clever little Who, you’ll have pieced together the answer from the title of today’s blog.
March 2nd is Theodor Seuss Giesel’s birthday. More commonly, he’s known by his pseudonym: Dr. Seuss.
When I realized today was Dr. Seuss’ birthday, I knew I had to pay tribute to him. Aside from the memories of my mother reading me his books, most notably Are You My Mother?, which always sent me into fits of laughter as a child, my husband absolutely loves Seuss. He still buys Seuss’ books- for himself. Most recently, You’re Only Old Once. Not to mention that, thanks to my baby brother, I can recite The Cat in the Hat at the drop of- ahem- a hat.
The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day. I sat there with Sally. We sat there we two. And I said, “How I wish we had something to do!” Too wet to go out and too cold to play ball. So we sat in the house. We did nothing at all. So all we could do was to sit, Sit, SIt, SIT. And we did not like it. Not one little bit…
I think you get the gist. (I promise. I did not look that up before writing it down. That was rote.)
I love Dr. Seuss. He reminds me of Ogden Nash, though, to be fair, I knew about Seuss first.
In his simple lines, deep truth is found. Big doses of it, and like a spoonful of sugar, his humor helps the medicine go down.
Dr. Seuss, which is actually pronounced Zoice, not Soose (it’s Bavarian; imagine if you will, as Frasier Crane explains, a glottal quality to the occlusion of your diphthongs), thought he actually wanted to be a doctor, pursuing a doctorate in English at Oxford. However, his future wife intervened when she saw his notebook full of doodles.
(Such witty commentary only shows that their romance was fated.)
And draw he did. He found his start in advertising where his drawings accompanied the slogans of multiple products, most notably and humorously, Flit! insecticide. Quick, Henry, the Flit! was a charming ad campaign and, in it, we see the beginnings of what we would all come to know as the Seuss style. Each one of his children’s books contain similar illustrations as well as his pithy, insightful, and playful poetry.
Dr. Seuss is perhaps one of the best known and well-loved American poets, yet his work was never lauded with a laureate. I think this is because he wrote children’s books, and children’s books are not considered great literature. However, we must remember the lesson in Horton Hears a Who!:
Seuss actually had quite a lot to say on the importance of writing books for children. In 1960, he wrote an article Writing for Children: A Mission. In it, he says:
What Dr. Seuss teaches us, through his choice of audience as well as his choice of words, is that the insignificant, the small, and the overlooked are not only important, they are capable of saving the world. In fact, in Horton Hears a Who!, the reader sees quite clearly, that the smallest Who- little Jo-Jo- needed to speak up to effect the greatest change. As Horton says at the end,
This truth is also echoed by the Once-ler in The Lorax, (the Lorax being a possessor of a great moustache- see homage here):
All of Dr. Seuss’ books are filled with positive affirmations. No one can finish reading one without feeling a little lighter, better, and empowered for good.
Here are a few tidbits of positivity to take with you today.
From Happy Birthday to You!:
From I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!:
From Oh, The Places You’ll Go!:
And, because this is Dr. Seuss, the man who said, “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living,” I think I shall leave you with this little gem. When asked where he got his ideas, Dr. Seuss answered:
How’s that for specific? Dr. Seuss was one for hyperbole, no doubt, and that very penchant to exaggerate allowed him to stretch out of the ordinary into the fantasy and bring us with him. I am forever grateful for all the laughter he’s brought me and all the wisdom he’s shared. Today, let’s celebrate him, shall we?
What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book or line? Do you have a distinctive memory of reading one of his books? Please share it with him as we celebrate his life.