Saturday 2 March 2013

Horton the Hiroshiman, Hitler the Turtle

On the occasion of Dr. Seuss' birthday, here are ten things you may not know about the children's author.

1.  Born Theodor Geisel, his father always wanted him to be a doctor.  However, he became an illustrator and author.  As his pen name he adopted his mother's maiden name Seuss (which rhymed with "voice" but was mispronounced to rhyme with "goose") and the title doctor.  He did, however, receive an honorary doctorate years later.

2.  According to Dr. Seuss' widow, Audrey, he was afraid of children.  To quote her husband, he explained: "You have 'em.  I'll amuse 'em."

3.  Before entering the world of children's literature, Theodor Geisel drew cartoons for ads for companies like:  NBC, General Electric, Standard Oil and Narragansett Brewing Company.

4.  The word "nerd" was first recorded in 1951 in Dr. Seuss' If I Ran the Zoo.

5.  Dr. Suess won two Academy Awards, one for "Gerald Mcboing-Boing", produced in 1951, and one for "Design for Death", based on the Japanese culture.

6.  Theodor Geisel served in the army as head of the Animation Department, creating war propaganda cartoons starring a bumbling soldier named "private Snafu" voiced by Mel Blanc.

7.  Horton Hears a Who is an allegory for America's treatment of post-war Japan.  Dr. Seuss visited Hiroshima after the atom bomb was dropped in 1945.

8.  The power-hungry turtle in Yertle the Turtle is based on the dictator Adolf Hitler.  Publishers however were not offended by this fact.  They were offended, though, by the burp at the end of the book.  Dr. Seuss was asked to remove it, but he insisted on keeping it in.

9.  The Butter Battle Book published in 1984 was based on the nuclear arms race and thus was pulled from the shelves for six months due to its controversial subject matter.

10.  Oh the Places You'll Go, the most popular of Dr. Seuss' collection, was meant ot be read to babies in the womb.  However, instead it has become a frequent graduation gift.


Dr. Seuss commemorative stamp released in 2004

Image courtesy

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