Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Inspiration Wednesday: Hop on Pop

"Up Pup, Pup is Up". And with that we're off with Hop on Pop a book short on words but big on wordplay. And when we get to "No, Pat, no. Don't sit on that!" my daughter is so wrapped up in the book that she says a mournful "No!" before I finish turning the page.

I'm not under any delusions (other than the stereotypical new mom belief that everything Juliet does is BRILLIANT!!!) that she's reading at 18 months but love that she's interested enough in books to chime in when she knows what's coming next.

Dr. Seuss could (should?) have a whole month of Inspiration Wednesdays all by himself. He lived many lives before writing children's books - a Massachusetts native son, former ad man before Don Draper made it cool, creator of cartoon Navy training films in WW2. Check out (caution, like many kid's sites, the music is LOUD!) to read about his life and work.

He tried his hand writing children's books but found huge success only after writing a reading primer commissioned using a 220-word vocab list. That book, The Cat in the Hat, became not only a classic but also helped children both learn to read and love to read.

Dr. Seuss/Theodor Geisel/Ted to his friends, whatever his name, he knew how to take the sometimes frustrating process of learning to read and brought humor and rhythm to combat it. His later work touched on war (The Butter Battle Book), environmentalism (The Lorax), anti-materialism (How the Grinch Stole Christmas) and other weighty but universal themes without preachiness. His early-reader books - like Green Eggs and Ham, The Cat in the Hat, and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish - may have lacked big plotlines but helped raise a generation to value books.

I grew up reading his books and watching cartoons & movies (The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T is a trippy masterpiece) based on his imagination. But now I'm more interested in checking out a couple books on Geisel. Donald E. Pease just published brand new biography, Theodor SEUSS Geisel (Lives and Legacies), but I'm more interested in his work than his life. So I'm looking forward to flipping though Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel
His drawings - despite or maybe owing to lack of training - show chaos, catastrophe, mess and most of all fun as commonplace in childhood. His villains are often just closed-minded or snobbish and can be redeemed though expanding their heart a few sizes. His heroes mess up and get scared but generally everything works out OK, even if the house gets trashed. You know, like a typical day with my daughter.
What's your favorite Seuss classic?

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