“Oh, the Places He Went: A Story about Dr. Seuss” by Maryann N. Weidt,
illustrated by Kerry Magurie
Carolrhda Books, Minneapolis, 1994, 64 pages, Grades 4-5
When a child is small, he will often mix-up words and create language.
Instead of “Hark the Herald Angel Sings,” a 3-year-old girl might say
“Harold the Hark Angels.” This makes delightful memories for parents as the
child grows into a beautiful young woman.
Any number of authors have used invented language to captivate readers.One
early famous invented language was “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll in “Alice
in Wonderland.” In the United States in the 20th century, one celebrated
author stands out for his famous drawings and use of language. His name is
Theodor Geisel. But most people remember him by his well-known name, Dr.
Born March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Mass., Theodor Suess Geisel was born into
a German family. He learned German in order to understand what his parents
and grandparents were discussing when not speaking English. The Geisels were
financially comfortable and owned a local brewery. However, when Prohibition
began in the early 1920s, the family’s situation worsened quickly.
Fortunately, Mr. Geisel became the park superintendent of Springfield. Young
Ted was happy too, because he became the head of the zoo.
Shortly after this, Ted began studying at Dartmouth College. Always
interested in writing and drawing, some teachers at Dartmouth thought his
art was strange. It was as if Ted were looking at the world through the
wrong end of a telescope.
After graduating from Dartmouth, he moved to England and attended Oxford
University. But while listening to profound lectures on Shakespeare or other
great authors, he kept doodling and making up funny verses about imaginary
characters. He seemed to appreciate a world-class education, but felt that
others were better suited for it than himself.
He soon fell in love with a beautiful American girl named Helen Palmer. They
were married and began wandering around Europe. At this time, he began
submitting his stories to magazines. Many magazines thought his drawings
were strange. His word play seemed foreign to many editors. But eventually,
Theodor Geisel found a publisher and started writing under the name of Dr.
Suess. The drawings and ideas that appeared odd to adults were fascinating
to children. In a short time, his career skyrocketed.
Why do children like Dr. Suess? Why do youngsters still enjoy his zany
ideas? Do you like green eggs and ham? Do you have a favorite Dr. Suess
book? My favorite is “Yertle the Turtle.”
How could one man create so much magic with his work? What kept Dr. Suess
writing until his death in 1991 at the age of 87? To find out the answers to
these questions, go down to the library and check out this fine biography of
Dr. Suess had a significant impact on American culture from 1940-90. Behind
the silliness of his work, there is profound seriousness to his writing. Dr.
Suess teaches us important lessons about how to live with charity and
kindness. He instructs readers in the value of loyalty and honor. Children
naturally understand these lessons, and adults need to remember them. While
many have tried to replicate his meter, no one has mastered it.
So the next time you read “Horton Hatches the Egg,” remember there is much
more here than just a funny story. I hope you go to the library and read
this fine biography.
2013 Southern Nebraska Register Publication Dates
(Resume Jan 4, 2014)
November 27 (Wed.)