Although we focus on research and evaluation tips or grant leads on this blog, we also understand the need for some lighthearted posts – that’s why we occasionally have staff book reviews. Many of you may know that I majored in English in college, which would lead you to the obvious assumption that I like to read. You may not know, however, that one of my all-time favorite authors is Dr. Seuss. My parents introduced me to Dr. Seuss when I was a very young child – I even taught myself to read using Dr. Seuss’ books when I was 3! His works stuck with me as I grew up. To this day, my favorite Dr. Seuss book is “The Sneetches” and I would give anything to own a one-piece Sneetch pajamas!
You can imagine my interest when I discovered “The Seuss, the Whole Seuss, and Nothing But the Seuss,” by Charles D. Cohen. By reading the book, I learned how Theodor Seuss Geisel gradually adapted his pen name to Dr. Seuss after he began publishing in “Judge” magazine (he was adding mock authority to a cartoon he drafted). I learned that Dr. Seuss had many varying explanations for his odd characters, so one rarely knew the accurate story of how he created them. Dr. Seuss was well-known among his schoolmates and peers as a clever and witty person – in fact, he was penning whole pieces of parody when he was only 14 years old. Although I knew that Dr. Seuss had done far more than authoring children’s books, I found that he also created adult books, publications, illustrations, paintings, sculptures, screenplays, and more! And, of course, I learned the history of “The Sneetches.” Dr. Seuss created the characters to promote equality in a world of intolerance after seeing multiple court cases involving racial segregation.
Cohen’s detailed biography of Dr. Seuss proved to be an interesting, and informative read for any Seuss bibliophile curious about the life and ideas of the popular author. The book is also filled with pictures and illustrations – some of which were nearly lost and required much research and dedication on the behalf of Cohen. Cohen’s book is particularly useful because much of the information out there is cursory or even incorrect. I appreciate that I now have a deeper understanding of a man who has influenced my entire life through his works.