Dr Seuss Day
Lifestyle Mar 04, 2019
Dr Seuss Day: celebration of a children’s book author auteur.
Who can forget their first experience with a Dr Seuss book? Basically, surrealism on steroids, but for kids. He was written off before he published his first books. “Can’t write”, “can’t draw” were the criticisms. Well, it wasn’t up to the critics.
Perhaps they had forgotten something that Dr Seuss never had: the sense of bewilderment and childhood wonder at the strange, but delightful. Almost like fairies dancing around a circle of red-capped mushrooms in full moon’s light.
His books were an integral part of many people’s childhoods.
The moment that The Cat in the Hat comes to knock on a certain door. Or, after stealing Christmas, how the Grinch has a change of heart (it grows three times in size).
On that note, Theodor Seuss Geisel, the author’s actual name, uses the children’s story to criticise the commercialisation of Christmas – which had been happening in the years following 1945.
His story is about how the grouchy hermit, the Grinch, annoyed by the people of Whoville, takes all their presents and Christmas food intended for their Christmas day feast. But he’s then puzzled how on Christmas morning, the Whos, as the villagers are known, sing hymns and show Christmas spirit anyway.
That’s when he realises that Christmas is about more than just the presents, and that’s when he has his change of heart.
A wonderful lesson for children!
Dr Seuss even delved into issues of environmentalism.
(Keep an eye out for our Earth Hour blog, coming out later this month.)
The Lorax was one of his most powerful books, about the destruction we wrought on the environment through industrialisation – and how it will have disastrous effects. Which of course, is proving true.
Then there’s Horton Hears a Who!
Yes, the Whos from Whoville! But it was their first appearance… though it is also a teeny, tiny appearance, as the Whos are microscopic, compared to Horton, an elephant. They live inside their town in a speck on a clover, and Horton vows to protect them because, “a person is a person, no matter how small.”
Obviously, all the anthropomorphic creatures created by Dr Seuss are persons in this context – sentient creatures with thoughts and human characteristics (if you didn’t know what anthropomorphic meant and didn’t have the bent to look it up in a dictionary – apologies, this is repetitive, though repetition is one of the tricks employed by Dr Seuss in his poetic prose).
Horton tries to defend the Whos from the outside world, but this results in danger coming to them anyway.
But “a person is a person, no matter how small” as a theme is inspired by Dr Seuss’ visit to post-World War II Japan. Not to disparage the supposed small size of Japanese people (they are, on a global average, fairly tall). It has more to do with concepts of individuality, you see.
Individuality were becoming more and more a part of Japanese culture and began being reflected in their arts.
For Dr Seuss, it was a significant experience… because they were his old enemy during the war, and he had anti-Japanese sentiments prior and during it.
This changed during his visit and he, in fact, dedicates Horton Hears a Who to a Japanese friend.
It’s ultimately a story about how we all share in equality, no matter who we be.
There are countless other stories, over 60 children’s books, and a lifetime of illustrious works that included political comics, animation, and advertising illustration.
If you would like to share your joy of Dr Seuss with your child, or perhaps rediscover him for yourself, then visit our Exclusive Books and head for the children’s section. There’s a treasure trove of Seuss to sink yourself into.
Because maybe it’s time to revisit the Whos, The Cat in the Hat, and Thing One and Thing Two.
This post is in honour of Dr Seuss, 1905 – 1991, on the International day dedicated to him –> 2 March. The blog’s feature image is a commemorative stamp of him, circa 2004. Credit: catwalker / Shutterstock.com.