Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991), better known as Dr. Seuss and sometimes Theo LeSieg, was born on the 2nd March 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. His mother, Henrietta Seuss Geisel, often sang her children to sleep "chanting" rhymes. Theodor (Ted) gives credit to his mother for his ability to create the rhymes that made him famous. He was an outstanding cartoonist in advertising but is best known for his wonderful children's books. It took him 27 attempts before a publisher took his first book - And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Vanguard Press eventually published it. The story is about a young boy named Marco who as he wanders down the street sees a horse and cart that suddenly through his eyes appears to take on some special qualities. A horse and cart becomes a chariot pulled by a zebra, then a chariot pulled by a reindeer, then a sled pulled by an elephant and so on. The images have the characteristic Seuss colour, sharp lines and simplicity of language and structure. The language is rich, repetitive and rhythmic.

His style never moved far from this wonderful recipe but the trademark of his work was the wonderful and inventive way he used language, rhyme and repetition. It has been suggested that his work contributed words to our lexicon for the first time. For example, he used the word "nerd" before anyone else (as a nonsense word) and eventually it found its way into our language as a way to describe someone with quirky personality who is bright and somewhat eccentric.

You can read a complete review of Dr Seuss and his work that I wrote last year (click here)

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