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What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss
Oh the Places You'll Go!
There is fun to be done! There are
Points to be Scored. There are Games
to be Won!
~ from Oh, the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss
With all the brouhaha and controversy going on about Harper Lee's "book", Go Set a Watchman, (which I haven't decided whether to read or not) another great publication is being overlooked, and that is a new book by Dr. Seuss.
Did you learn to read by reading Dr. Seuss' books when you were small? I am dating myself, but I am from the boomer generation of children growing up in the 1960's who learned to read each evening by reading a Dr. Seuss book. And, now . . .
Oh, yes! Dr. Seuss, deceased since 1991, has had a manuscript for a children's book hidden away or misplaced, whichever explanation you choose to believe, and it has come to life.
What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss is a thirty-two page book written and illustrated by the beloved Theodor Seuss Geisel, best known as Dr. Seuss. It is published by Random House for ages 4 and up for $17.99. It will be on the book racks this July 28.
I have always considered Dr. Seuss a genius as well as others in the writing industry because of his ability to capture the imaginations of children around the world. With his not-so-simple rhyming, that he makes look easy, children have learned to read and their imaginations engaged by Dr. Seuss and his lovable, crazy, wacky, and furry characters and illustrations.
His books illustrate his particular genius for including both the spirit of his times and the timeless mindset of children.
This new book is one of many that changed how American children learned to read. Dr. Seuss' books were always more entertaining and fun than the insipid Dick and Jane books we learned to read from in the first grade in the 1960's.
He made learning to read an adventure and a special club to which children would actually want to belong. He made reading aloud something both parents and children wanted to do, not had to do.
I remember, as a child, looking forward to reading after dinner with my mom, who listened to me read The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Came Back.
No matter how many times I read those books, I never tired to reading them and came back time and again to read them some more. Dr. Seuss instilled in me a love of reading that has carried me through my entire life.
I even used Green Eggs and Ham to help teach my students iambic pentameter when we were reading Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. My 8th graders immediately understood stressed and unstressed syllables and we clapped along with the beat of the lines. Of course, I think my principal thought I had lost my marbles.
However, when I explained to my students they already had heard the use of iambic pentameter through reading Dr. Seuss books, they were amazed and immediately understood the rhyming and meter concept. This is another reason I consider Seuss a genius.
I also treated my 8th graders to the Seuss book, Oh, the Places You'll Go, on the last day of school. I smiled as I watched them roll their eyes, and I knew they were thinking, "a Dr. Seuss book? We'll just have to humor Mrs. Walker again . . ."
By the time I got to the end of the book, there was not a sound in the room and all their eyes and ears were riveted to the story. Someone always remarked at the end that this was not a book for children but for all ages, including adults, because of its theme.
This Seuss book is many times given as gifts for high school and college graduates.
Again, evidence of the genius of Dr. Seuss.
What Pet Should I Get?
This Seuss book was a nearly finished picture book and is believed to have been put aside in his files at his La Jolla,CA home in favor of the publication of his popular, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. (1960)
Why didn't Seuss publish What Pet Should I Get? before or after One Fish? Seuss' second wife Audrey has said he must have simply forgotten about it in the many projects on which he was working.
The book was believed to have been written in the years leading up to 1960; somewhere between 1957 to 1962. It seems Pet was a warm-up to One Fish . . . which is a more classical Seuss book.
The Pet manuscript was discovered in 2013 in a box that Audrey Geisel, his second wife, had set aside after his death. It was already in the final stages of preparation for publication.
The story and illustrations are about two siblings who enter a pet store excited about being able to take a new animal home because, "Dad said we could get one/ Dad said he would pay."
The children find that inside the pet store there is a dizzying lineup of choices from which to choose. But, they don't have much time because Mom has said they must be home by noon.
MAKE UP YOUR MIND is in bold letters on a banner that stretches across the top of a two-page spread and held aloft by different invented creatures Dr. Seuss is so great at creating.
The boy sums up the central theme of the book. "Oh boy! It's something to make a mind up!", which resonates today with the choices we are bombarded with everyday.
The story is a typical 1960's scenario; a pet store would have offered a setting for the angst of childhood - What Pet Should I Get?
At first, the children face a simple choice of a dog or a cat. But they quickly realize their pet options are much more numerous. They just don't have a choice of a dog or a cat, but a kitten or a puppy, a bird or a fish, and even a monkey or a bunny to consider.
"Look over there / said my sister Kay / we can go home / With a Rabbit today."
Then the real problem for the children starts - what other amazing animals exist for them to choose from. Some imaginary pets?
"a fast kind of thing / who would fly around my head / in a ring on a string," but the children reconsider because, "Our house is so small / This thing on a string / would bump bump into a wall," and their mother "would not like that at all."
A Yent, another gigantic, furry creature is considered. But, "A Yent would need a tent." Can they bring home "one of each kind of pet?" Noooo, "Dad would be mad."
By now the children realize, "If we do not choose / we will end up with none."
Finally, the brother does make up his mind, "I picked one out fast and then that was that." So the brother and sister leave the pet store with a basket but we cannot see which creature is inside.
It is left up to each child to guess what pet is in the basket and each child can end the story in his or her own way.
That is the genius of Dr. Seuss; he nudges children to imagine what pet is in the basket and engages children's imaginations. Children are required to use their imaginations just as Seuss does when he writes his books.
Each book that Seuss wrote went through many drafts and many times he would produce a thousand pages just to end up with the sixty-four pages in a finished book.
Two Academy Awards
Two Emmy Awards
Pulitzer Prize (1984)
Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
Theodor Seuss Geisel 1904 - 1991
Thedor Geisel was an American writer and illustrator best known for his authoring children's books under the pen name of Dr. Seuss. He was born on Howard Street in Springfield, MA and since 2002, five bronze sculptures depict Dr. Seuss busily working on his drawing board with his different book characters surrounding him in a National Memorial to Seuss.
His parents were Theodor Robert and Henrietta Seuss Geisel. Seuss has credited his mother with both his ability and desire to create the rhymes for which he became so well known. His mother soothed her children to sleep by "chanting" rhymes remembered from her youth.
Seuss attended Dartmouth College and was editor-in-chief of Dartmouth's humor magazine, Jack -O-Lantern; however, he was caught throwing a drinking party on campus and so came the end of his editorship of the magazine.
He continued to contribute to the magazine signing he work "Seuss", his mother's maiden name. This is the first recording of his use of the pseudonym "Seuss."
After graduating from Dartmouth (1925) Seuss went on to Oxford University in England, but became bored with his academic studies and left Oxford without earning a degree. He decided to tour Europe instead.
He did meet his future and first wife, Helen Palmer at Oxford, a children's author and book editor in her own right. They returned to the U.S. and Seuss pursued a career as an illustrator for different magazines of the time: Saturday Evening Post, Vanity Fair, Life, and Harper's Bazaar.
Seuss also worked creating advertising campaigns for Standard Oil which he worked at for fifteen years.
His first break into children's literature came when Viking Press offered Seuss a contract to illustrate a collection of children's sayings called Boners. The book was not a commercial success but his illustrations drew great reviews.
Seuss' first book that he wrote and illustrated was And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. (1937) This book was rejected twenty-seven times before being published by Vanguard Press.
The Cat in the Hat (1957), the defining book of his writing career, was a joint venture between Houghton Mifflin (Vanguard Press) and Random House. They asked Seuss to write and illustrate a children's primer using only 225 "new reader" vocabulary words.
With the release of The Cat in the Hat, Seuss became the definitive children's book author and illustrator world wide. His books are been translated into more than fifteen languages and he has published over 200,000 million copies of his books.
Helen died in 1967 and Seuss married an old friend, Audrey Stone Geisel who influenced his later books and now holds his legacy as president of Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
At his death, Seuss had written and illustrated forty-four children's books such as Green Eggs and Ham (1960), Fox in Socks, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) and more recently, Oh, the Places You'll Go.
How does Seuss do it?
While when reading Seuss' books, it looks as if his stories are made up of simple words and rhymes; however, much more time and effort goes into the writing of his books than readers would realize.
The majority of his books are written in anapestic (poetic meter) tetrameter, the English literary canon. This type of rhyme meter consists of four rhythmic units or anapests of stressed and unstressed syllables of: u u /
Example: And today the Great Yertie, that Marvelous he.
In his book, If I Ran the Circus, he uses amphibrachic tetrameter with u / u u / u u /
Example: All ready to put up the tents for my circus.
He also uses trochaic tetrameter: / u / u with four units per line.
Example: One fish, Two fish, Red fish, Blue fish.
And he uses iambic tetrameter/pentameter as does Shakespeare in his plays. u /u / u /
Example: Green eggs and Ham.
As shown here, his stories are well thought out and the rhyming and meter are well thought out as well. This is part of his genius. To this day, I can remember the names of Seuss' books after all this time.