Books, Children's Books, History, Picture Books, TBT, TBTPictureBooks, Thrift Shop, Writing

To Think I Found It In Goodwill

Grandpa

My latest thrift store stop has to be one of my favorites. I spent the afternoon with a friend at Goodwill. We looked at pants and shirts and skirts and talked up and down the aisles. I found an amazing Christmas sweater vest with candy canes and sequins. I managed to leave it behind for a happy ugly-sweater-loving person.

I wandered to the back of the store to check out the children’s books. I found two little treasures amidst the stacks.

Can you spot one of them on my bookshelf?

shelf

I didn’t even realize it when I first purchased the book, but the spine has no title information. This leads me to other questions about book publishing and earrly cover design–

When did publishers start paying attention to designing book spines? How were books displayed in stores in 1937? Were children’s books designed or displayed differently than other genres? I think this will have to be anothe post for another time.

On to the book and… Dr. Seuss!

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street

My favorite find for the day! I realized it was an early edition when I read the back cover jacket flap.

Dr. Seuss cover

dedication

This author bio in the back is my favorite part of the whole book. Why? Because it tells the tale of the very beginning of the career of a man with a dream to draw and publish children’s books.

cover flap

Dr. Seuss hadn’t become a household name yet. This is the space where Mr. Geisel and The Vanguard Press are selling us Dr. Seuss:

“Dr. Seuss, whose pictures of strange humans and stranger animals have startled and delighted the American public on billboards and car cards, in magazines and books, is not, as has often been rumored, an armless artist who draws with his toes. He is a healthy and sane young man whose real name is Theodor Seuss Geisel, who grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1925 and decided to become a professor of English Literature…”

He didn’t become a professor after all. It was drawing pictures that had his heart.

“…he had been warned by experts that he could never learn to be an artist. Mr Geisel still believes that these warnings may have been correct, not withstanding Dr. Seuss’s success in drawing pictures, a success so great that it caused him to abandon all thoughts of an academic career.”

It’s hard to pick out my favorite part from Dr. Seuss’s author bio. It all tells a tale. I especially love the last paragraph listing his author credits. Did Mr. Geisel imagine at the time the success in front of him?

“Although Mr. Geisel has written numerous magazine articles, AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET was his first book. His second, THE 500 HATS OF BARTHOLOMEW CUBBINS, has proved as popular as it’s predecessor.”

LISTEN

Here’s a fun audio clip (3 minutes or you can read the story) from NPR when they celebrated the 75th anniversary of And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street in 2012.

I’m so happy to have found this little piece of children’s book history.

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

*****************************************

Books

My Dr. Seuss Moment

 

My Dr. Seuss moment came to me when I was reading Green Eggs and Ham to my daughter’s Pre-K class on Green Day. Green Day of course being the day the entire class got to dress all out from head to toe in the color green, hear the story Green Eggs and Ham, and eat green eggs and ham to celebrate learning the letter G. And I had the priveledge to be the Mystery Reader for the class that day.

If you want to write for children you’ve probably been told not to try rhyming unless you’re brilliant at it, or to study how brilliant Dr. Seuss‘  books are. Childrens book author and poet Richard Michelson even mentions Dr. Seuss in his dos and don’ts advice to aspiring childrens book writers in his interview on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. But my moment didn’t come from thinking ‘Surely I can rhyme like that’, it came from watching the children as I read the book aloud. It came from Sam I Am’s relentless pursuit of his friend to try those green eggs and ham. The more he tried to get his friend to eat that strange food, the more excited the kids got.

And while they had all heard the story before, they were excited by every page turn, so much so that one little boy yelled out in exasperation, “Oh, I need him to try those green eggs and ham!”

As the story built and all of  those wonderful Dr. Seuss characters looked on to see if Sam’s friend would, after so much protest, put a bite in his mouth the kids could hardly contain themselves. And when he finally did put that bite in his mouth the whole Pre-K class began to clap. I was completely surprised by their reaction and I loved it! It’s a moment I hope I don’t forget on my own journey of creating childrens books.