Poetry Wednesday: the Man Who Saw it on Mulberry Street

dr seuss

Yes.  Dr. Seuss is a poet—and not just because his stuff rhymes.

The good doctor was a big part of my childhood—he’s a big part of my adulthood. I hopped on Pop and one fished, two fished and learned to say cat and hat in French, Spanish, and Eskimo all before I was ten. After my older daughter was born, her grandparents on both sides made sure that she received her fair share of the family’s heirloom Seuss books*—or replacements for the ones that had been tough-loved to pieces. I’ve memorized many of my kids’ favorites–Circus McGurkus, anyone?—through sheer repetition.

And I usually come home from work to find my kids and MIL raptly watching The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot about That, which has spawned the family catchphrase, “Your mother will mind if you do!”

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

I doubt he needs an introduction to anyone born after And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was published in 1937, but while I was searching for a bibliography, I discovered a few fun facts about Theodore Seuss Geisel that I hadn’t known. I may be alone in my ignorance, but I’m going to share anyway:

Ted Geisel was the editor of Dartmouth College’s humor magazine, The Jack-o-Lantern, until he and his buddies broke school rules and Prohibition laws to throw a major party.   He was still allowed to submit his drawings to the magazine, but started signing them “Seuss,” his mother’s maiden name.

Before World War II, Mr. Geisel created ads for the Standard Oil Company and then helped develop Army training videos starring a hapless animated soldier named Private Snafu.**

His first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times before it was accepted by a publisher.  Twenty.  Seven.  Times.***

And the guy who really sang the Grinch’s songs was the same guy who originated Tony the Tiger’s signature pitch for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes—Thurl Ravenscroft, who has my vote for the best basso profundo name ever. ^

Sorry.  Got carried away.

Dr. Seuss taught generations of kids to try new things , from eating weird food, to inventing weird onomatopoeia, to tungling our  tangs:

(Random Wesson: “And now, let’s talk about . . .” Every Other Wesson in Earshot: “Tweedle Beetles !!!”)

He taught us we could think thinks, and dream dreams, imagine anything and everything, and go to the most fabulous places:

(And that there is a path out of the Slumps)

He taught us to care about the environment—to care, period. He showed us the consequences of being selfish and inconsiderate. And he taught us that superficial differences aren’t important:

(Pretty sweet scam, though . .. Just saying)

It should be no surprise that Dr. Seuss won two Academy awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award and a Pulitzer Prize.

Not to mention the hearts of his readers, no matter how small.

Or large.

Or young.

Or old.

So . . . what’s your favorite Seuss?


*You can always tell a family heirloom by the teeth marks on the binding.

**If you don’t see the humor in that, google SNAFU. ‘Tis my second favorite military acronym—doesn’t everyone have those?—after FUBAR but just before FIBIJAR.

*** Seriously, how FUBAR is that?

^ But you might look up Mr. Ravenscroft, anyway—he was one of the most accomplished voice artists you’ve ever heard but have never heard of.