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.


19 thoughts on “Poetry Wednesday: the Man Who Saw it on Mulberry Street

  1. Here’s a good one: Dr. Seuss was the very first author to use the word “blog”…

    From the 1953 story “Scrambled Eggs Super!” :

    I went for the kind that were mellow and sweet

    And the world’s sweetest eggs are the eggs of the Kweet

    Which is due to those very sweet trout which they eat

    And those trout … well, they’re sweet ’cause they only eat Blogs

    And Blogs, after all, are the world’s sweetest frogs

    And the reason they’re sweet is, whenever they lunch

    It’s always the world’s sweetest bees that they munch

    And the reason no bees can be sweeter than these…

    They only eat blossoms off Beezlenut Trees

    And those Beezlenut Blossoms are sweeter than sweet

    And that’s why I nabbed several eggs from the Kweet.

  2. This was a real treat today Sarah thank you. Our favourite will always be Green Eggs and Ham because for ages that’s the only one we had and I had to read it every night. We’ve got a set now, and my teens won’t give them up 🙂

    • Green Eggs and Ham may be my favorite, too, though If I Ran the Circus is close. Janie loves the latter. Sunny isn’t sure, but she loves the Cat on the tv show.

  3. I love Dr Seuss, I do like him Sam I Am. As you say Sarah it was part of my childhood and my adulthood – one of my friends gave me The Places You’ll Go when I graduated from law school – best line – with your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet”

    And I spent hours reading many of them to my kids, One Fish, Two Fish, The Cat in the Hat, Fox in Sox, The Grinch and on and on.

    I still love watching The Grinch (the original) Yawho doree…

    I could go on…

    • One of my bosses gave me THE PLACES YOU’LL GO, too. I love that waiting place.

      We’ve got a great audio recording of THE CAT IN THE HAT. I have no idea who the actor is but his voice is just what you imagine THE CAT to sound like. Deep, mischievous, manipulative but so so friendly as well.

      Love that Dr. Seuss.

  4. (Insert kid name here) won’t you please go now!
    There’s a Nink beneath the sink,
    a Ghair beneath the chair.
    What would you do if your mother asked you?

    (Can’t get quotations to work on my phone at the moment…)

    How many great lines have been incorporated into our lives?
    Love this post!

  5. LOVE Dr. Seuss. He’s saved me so many times on long plane rides and car trips, or boring afternoons. On a long ago flight from Germany with an infant and a toddler, I swear I read The Lorax at least a dozen times. It was my son’s favorite book.

    Thank you, Sarah.

    • Any time, Averil! Dr. Seuss is the child-minder’s best friend.

      The Lorax is my husband’s favorite—he had a Lorax t-shirt when I first met him, but I think it dissolved in the wash one day after decades of loyal service.

  6. Good books. Dr. Seuss had a great gift. My sons both loved One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. My oldest liked the Cat in the Hat. My youngest was more fond of Green Eggs and Ham. We also read the covers off of Mr. Brown can moo and Oh the thinks you can think! We also had Thing one and thing two t-shirts for them.

    • I’d forgotten about Mr. Brown Can Moo —how is that even possible? I read that every night for two years with Jane.

      We wanted to buy those shirts for our kids, but both of them wanted to be Thing One. Oh, well.

  7. The Grinch still remains my favorite, although The Places You’ll Go is a close second (especially once I had children). Man, that guy had an imagination. And what an art for using words that were totally made-up yet somehow always appropriate for the story!

    Someone should come out with a Dr. Seuss dictionary. There’s a book idea for someone…

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