Dr. Seuss

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

Have you met the Drum-Tummied Snumm, the wink-hooded Hoodwinks, and the Juggling Jot? Or the Lorax, the Sneetches, and the Yuzz-a-ma-Tuzz? Then you know Dr. Seuss, the author-illustrator who created a fantastic menagerie of more than 40 children's books. Millions of copies of the Dr. Seuss books have been sold, in 15 languages.

Dr. Seuss's real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel. He was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts, where his father was superintendent of the city parks and zoo. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1925, Geisel studied at Oxford University in England. He had no formal art training, but after returning to the United States, he became an advertising illustrator.

His first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was published in 1937 with the author-illustrator listed as "Dr. Seuss." In this and later picture books--among them The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938), Horton Hears a Who (1954), The Lorax (1971), The Butter Battle Book (1984), and Oh, the Places You'll Go! (1990)--nonsense, exaggeration, and rhyme are combined with a gentle moral.

According to Dr. Seuss, all of his books began with doodles that turned into zany characters. The Cat in the Hat (1957) uses only 175 different words to tell a story easy enough for first graders to read on their own. The Beginner Books that followed use simple words to tell of hilarious situations. Two favorites are Green Eggs and Ham (1960) and Hop on Pop (1963).

Dr. Seuss was also a designer and producer of animated cartoons. In 1950 he won an Academy Award for his animated short film Gerald McBoing-Boing. The television cartoon of his book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has become a Christmastime favorite. For his contributions to children's literature, Dr. Seuss received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1980. In 1984 he was awarded a special citation Pulitzer Prize "for his special contribution…to the education and enjoyment of America's children and their parents." He died on September 24, 1991, in La Jolla, California.

Nancy Larrick
Author, A Parent's Guide to Children's Reading

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