I’m not going to bother giving a synopsis of this book. Its plot is pretty self-explanatory- it’s a biography of Dr. Seuss for 8-12 year olds. I found it on We Give Books, which, I will say it again, is a fabulous online resource for free children’s books. You create an account for free, then every time you log in and read a book, donations are made for literacy promotion throughout the world. They don’t have every book in the world, but their selection is varied and good quality. I especially like their non-fiction books, like this one, for example. Here are some things I learned about Dr. Seuss while reading this book.
Dr. Seuss’ real name was Ted Seuss Geisel, and when he was little his parents let him draw on the walls after he took trips to the zoo, which was the beginning of his crazy animal drawings. He first started using his middle name in publishing when he got banned from the Dartmouth school humor magazine for having a party where gin was served during prohibition. Before he started writing children’s books, Ted Geisel got reasonably wealthy making cartoons for an advertising campaign for the bug spray Flit. The ads would feature gigantic crazy-looking bugs attacking people’s homes while the wife yelled, “Get the Flit!” Apparently it was the most successful ad campaign ever, and it gave Ted Geisel and his wife financial independence, as well as a strict contract left relatively few supplementary employment options open to him. Fortunately for all of us, one of these options was writing children’s books. Finally, Ted and his wife were unable to have children, but they invented a few imaginary ones and would frequently refer to them in Christmas cards and conversations with friends.
Sometimes we overlook nonfiction books because we are still recovering from college physical science and are convinced in our small grown-up minds that anything factual is boring. But kids love, love, love to learn stuff. And when the stuff they’re learning is about real people’s lives, it’s the best, because it feels like a story and learning at the same time. I remember my biography phase in elementary school, and I still remember stuff I read about Abraham Lincoln’s wife back then. It’s fascinating to learn about famous old people. And these days elementary schools all celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and it would be a great way to keep the enthusiasm going to have a little biography for your kids to get into. I liked it, and I’m not even 8-12 years old!