Becoming Dr. Seuss : Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination
by Brian Jay Jones


Overview - The definitive, fascinating, all-reaching biography of Dr. Seuss.

Dr. Seuss is a classic American icon. Whimsical and wonderful, his work has defined our childhoods and the childhoods of our own children. The silly, simple rhymes are a bottomless well of magic, his illustrations timeless favorites because, quite simply, he makes us laugh. The Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, Horton, and so many more, are his troupe of beloved, and uniquely Seussian, creations.

Theodor Geisel, however, had a second, more radical side. It is there that the allure and fasciation of his Dr. Seuss alter ego begins. He had a successful career as an advertising man and then as a political cartoonist, his personal convictions appearing, not always subtly, throughout his books--remember the environmentalist of The Lorax? Geisel was a complicated man on an important mission. He introduced generations to the wonders of reading while teaching young people about empathy and how to treat others well.

Agonizing over word choices and rhymes, touching up drawings sometimes for years, he upheld a rigorous standard of perfection for his work. Geisel took his responsibility as a writer for children seriously, talking down to no reader, no matter how small. And with classics like Green Eggs and Ham, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Geisel delighted them while they learned. Suddenly, reading became fun.

Coming right of the heels off George Lucas and bestselling Jim Henson, Brian Jay Jones is quickly developing a reputation as a master biographer of the creative geniuses of our time.

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More About Becoming Dr. Seuss by Brian Jay Jones
 
 
 
Overview
The definitive, fascinating, all-reaching biography of Dr. Seuss.

Dr. Seuss is a classic American icon. Whimsical and wonderful, his work has defined our childhoods and the childhoods of our own children. The silly, simple rhymes are a bottomless well of magic, his illustrations timeless favorites because, quite simply, he makes us laugh. The Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, Horton, and so many more, are his troupe of beloved, and uniquely Seussian, creations.

Theodor Geisel, however, had a second, more radical side. It is there that the allure and fasciation of his Dr. Seuss alter ego begins. He had a successful career as an advertising man and then as a political cartoonist, his personal convictions appearing, not always subtly, throughout his books--remember the environmentalist of The Lorax? Geisel was a complicated man on an important mission. He introduced generations to the wonders of reading while teaching young people about empathy and how to treat others well.

Agonizing over word choices and rhymes, touching up drawings sometimes for years, he upheld a rigorous standard of perfection for his work. Geisel took his responsibility as a writer for children seriously, talking down to no reader, no matter how small. And with classics like Green Eggs and Ham, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, Geisel delighted them while they learned. Suddenly, reading became fun.

Coming right of the heels off George Lucas and bestselling Jim Henson, Brian Jay Jones is quickly developing a reputation as a master biographer of the creative geniuses of our time.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781524742782
  • ISBN-10: 1524742783
  • Publisher: Dutton Books
  • Publish Date: May 2019
  • Page Count: 496
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.58 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Literary Figures
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Artists, Architects, Photographers
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Historical

 
BookPage Reviews

Well Read: May 2019

Brian Jay Jones offers a richly detailed, admiring biography of Theodor Geisel, the man whom children and adults the world over would come to love as Dr. Seuss.


Is there anyone who doesn’t like Dr. Seuss? There may be a few grinches out there, but for the rest of us, his children’s classics never fail to evoke some blend of delight, amusement, wonder and nostalgia. However, nearly 30 years after his death, few people may know the story of the sui generis illustrator and writer whose real name was Theodor Geisel. Brian Jay Jones’ capacious new biography, Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination, provides a meticulously detailed yet thoroughly engaging look at the life and artistry of this American original. 

Jones, who has previously written biographies of George Lucas and Jim Henson, gives the full measure of the imaginative man who, from childhood, “turned minnows into whales.” Geisel was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of a German-American brewer who was prosperous until Prohibition destroyed the family business. At Dartmouth, Geisel found his true calling working on the university’s  humor magazine. An ill-advised stint at Oxford did not secure him a graduate degree, but it did introduce Geisel to fellow American student Helen Palmer, who became his first wife and invaluable, albeit uncredited, collaborator. After Oxford, with dreams of writing the Great American Novel, Geisel tried the Jazz Age bohemian life. (He frequented the same Parisian cafe as Hemingway but never had the nerve to speak to him.)

Back in New York, Palmer convinced Geisel to concentrate on his true talents: humor, illustration and cartooning. The man who would give us Horton and the Cat in the Hat first hit it big in advertising, drawing humorous ad campaigns for such pedestrian products as mosquito repellent and motor oil. The work was lucrative, if unfulfilling, and Geisel flexed his creative muscles with cartoons, both topical and, during World War II, political. But still, he hankered to write children’s books. Considerable persistence and a stroke of luck led to the publication of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1937. While fame (and book sales) were slow, Dr. Seuss had arrived.

Becoming Dr. Seuss chronicles Geisel’s wholly creative, if not particularly scandalous, life but doesn’t shy away from darker aspects—particularly Palmer’s suicide, which may have been tied to Geisel’s affair with Audrey Dimond, who became his second wife, or Geisel’s lifelong wish to be taken more seriously as an artist rather than a “mere” children’s author. 

Overall, Jones paints a loving portrait filled with telling details. And when the 82-year-old Geisel returned to Springfield to find the real-life Mulberry Street lined with hundreds of cheering schoolchildren, it’s hard to imagine even the most hardened grinch’s heart failing to grow at least three sizes.

 
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