Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dr. Seuss's Naked Dames and Horses, Too!

During the final week of the library's Dr. Seuss display, I thought it would be interesting to "flesh out" our appreciation of this author a bit.  We've learned that Dr. Seuss wrote and illustrated many books for children, but he also produced cartoons for adults which have been collected in Dr. Seuss Goes to War and The Tough Coughs as He Ploughs the Dough. Additionally, Theodor Seuss Geisel authored the humorous storybook You're Only Old Once! which was aimed at the aging adult audience.  

Perhaps his most unexpected adult book is the strange story of  The Seven Lady Godivas, one of his earliest publications.  In this book Dr. Seuss concocted a highly imaginative legend to explain the origins of seven well-known proverbs.  These are the proverbs having to do with horses and what he called horse truths, an example of which would be "Never change horses in the middle of the stream." 

So here's where it gets strange: Dr. Seuss utilized the legend of Lady Godiva and her horse, but converted this individual into a family of seven Godiva sisters who must uncover these horse truths/proverbs.  As he stated tongue in cheek in his foreword, "History has treated no name so shabbily as it has the name Godiva.  Today Lady Godiva brings to mind a shameful picture-a big blond nude trotting around town on a horse.....There was not one; there were Seven Lady Godivas, and their nakedness actually was not a thing of shame." And so the seven stalwart sisters fulfill their Seussian destiny to discover horse sense (and true love, too!) all while unflinchingly wearing their birthday suits.  Dr. Seuss must have had fun coming up with this one.  
- Evelyn Fischel -

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Seriously, Dr. Seuss

Did you know that Dr. Seuss drew political cartoons during World War II?
From 1941-1943, Theodor Seuss Geisel composed over 400 wartime editorial cartoons for the New York journal PM.  While he targeted Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and the Japanese, his cartoons also ridiculed any notions of appeasement or American isolationism. Dr. Seuss derided Charles Lindbergh and the America First movement and often used an ostrich as a stand-in for these isolationists.  The University of California, San Diego, now owns the originals of his political cartoons, two of which are shown here courtesy of UCSD.

Approximately half of the editorial cartoons were selected for the 1999 publication, Dr. Seuss Goes to War, by Richard H. Minear. The book contains full page images of the cartoons arranged by the author based on topics such as "The Home Front" and "Winning the War." Minear also addresses the crass insensitivity shown to Asian-Americans, specifically Japanese-Americans, in several of these cartoons.  By means of explanation rather than excuse, Minear elucidates the historical background and wartime context which drove Dr. Seuss's editorial commentary.  You'll find a copy of Dr. Seuss Goes to War among the featured books in the current "Dr. Seuss!" display in our lobby.  
-Evelyn Fischel

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dr. Seuss!

During this month of March we are celebrating Dr. Seuss. His joyful, creative output is on full view in the lobby for all to enjoy. Entitled "Dr. Seuss!," this display combines many wonderful Seuss favorites along with lesser known books for adults and additional biographies. Audiobooks and film versions of his stories are also included.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born on March 2, 1904, and this year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of his first children's book, "And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street."  Dr. Seuss's beloved cast of characters can be found here - Horton, Yertle the Turtle, Gerald McBoing Boing, the Sneetches, and of course, the Grinch as well as the Cat in the Hat.  Why let the kids have all the fun? Look for your favorite books from childhood and take a few home to read all over again.  And while you're at it, both old and young are invited to draw their favorite Dr. Seuss characters on our easel. Every day we get new and wonderful sketches.