Thank You, Dr Seuss.
Written by Jess Unsworth
March 2nd was a normal day, until 1904 when everything changed. Dr Seuss was born! Back then however he didn't go by Dr Seuss, that would've been a bit odd for a child. His full name is Theodor Seuss Geisel, or Ted as most people referred to him. Now, as we're on the topic of names, here is where I'm going to drop a bombshell, I'm about to change life as you know it. The correct pronunciation of Seuss is not like 'Bruce', it is in fact pronounced like 'voice'.
I can only imagine the deadly silence that fell after you read that sentence, but yes it is true. When his family moved to America, everyone would pronounce it 'Soose', and the family just decided to go along with it! I feel much better now I have shared that fact, it was really eating me up.
Dr Seuss kicked of his career writing ads, specifically for Flit Bug Spray writing the ever famous catch line 'Quick, Henry! The Flit' (I have never heard of this phrase but that could either be because I am British, or I am EXTREMELY youthful).
He worked writing various ad campaigns for a few years, until finally, after 27 rejections, his first book 'And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street' was published. From there he went on to write 47 children's books, 20 of which have been translated into different languages.
When we found out we had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr Seuss, we had to take it. So, our designer Alex created our first collection 'Dr Seuss Books', this features 5 of Dr Seuss' most famous books. Intrigued by this new license I decided to do some more research into the inspiration behind a few of his books, and it made me love him even more!
The Lorax is the reasoning behind us deciding we absolutely HAD to make sure this collection was printed on 100% organic cotton.
The Lorax was written in a time when 'global warming' and 'sustainability' were words only hippies would preach, so to have someone as influential as Seuss writing about the importance of taking care of our planet was just fantastic!
This book unfortunately hasn't grown old, and is more relevant now than it was when he first wrote it. Inspired by the chopping down of trees in his neighbourhood and his trip to Mount Kenya Safari Club, Seuss knew he wanted to write a 'non-preachy' book, that even children would be able to read and learn from. He wanted a book that captured the effects of pollution on ecosystems. Which I think he captured brilliantly, with the ending reading;
"UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing's going to get better.
I think it's safe to say he wrote a book way a head of his time.
Green Eggs & Ham
This is was one of my favourite books in school, and still remains as one of my favourite Dr Seuss books to this day. You've got to admit as a child, you wanted to try green eggs and ham, and to be totally honest if a restaurant added green eggs and ham to their menu tomorrow, I would be straight round with my knife and fork at the ready.
For me what makes this book even better, is that it was actually the result of a bet. Seuss' publisher bet him that he couldn't write a book with 50 or fewer words. If only all bets could result in a top selling children's book, with over 8 million copies sold world wide! Mine just end with me owing someone a pint.
Cat in the Hat
Back in 1930, a popular primer book was released for young children featuring 2 characters, Dick and Jane. Having looked into these books and read a few pages I have renamed them 'Dull Dick' and 'Plain Jane' and I don't seem to be the only one with this opinion. Although educational, these books were immensely boring, even educators and parents knew it!
This issue was brought to light more so when an article was written in Life magazine questioning why these books didn't at least feature exciting illustrations for the children. Something fun and playful, maybe by the likes of Tenniel, Walt Disney or Dr Seuss.
Well, this article was seen by the Director of Houghton Mifflin's education division, and he decided to not only take this suggestion on board but run with it. An invitation was sent to Seuss for him to join for dinner.
Here the Director made the request 'write me a story that 1st graders can't put down'.
'No problem' Seuss thought, 'I can do that in my sleep'. He in fact could not do that in his sleep. He underestimated how difficult it would be to write a story with not only a 200 word cap (give or take a few), but to conceive a story with such a limited word list deemed almost impossible. A frustrated Seuss decided to go along the list, choose the first two words that rhymed and then try to create a story around them. Lucky for us, the first words that he found were 'Cat' and 'Hat', and HAZAR Cat in the Hat was born!
On the morning of December 26th, Seuss was looking in the mirror whilst he was brushing his teeth, and he noticed what he described as a very 'grinchish' person looking back at him. This isn't how one should feel at Christmas time! Instantly, he was inspired and began to write a story about his sour friend 'The Grinch', to see if he could discover the 'something' about Christmas that he had lost.
Finished within a few weeks, The Grinch was one of the quickest books he wrote, (mostly due to the fact that he was able to channel his frustrations with the commercialisation of Christmas into his story). The Grinch is also Seuss' most adapted story to this day, and finding out that The Grinch himself was actually based on Seuss is quite the shock! This wasn't a secret by any means. In fact Seuss owned his grinchness, and rocked around his neighbourhood with license plates that spelled out 'GRINCH'. Now if that isn't iconic I don't know what is.
Oh the Places You'll Go
Oh! The Places You'll Go, is not only Seuss' best selling book, but it was actually the last book published in his lifetime. Which makes the book even more special!
With such a lovely message behind it, this book has become a classic gift for children and adults alike.
I remember first arriving at a hostel in Seattle, when I got to the room I was staying in, all of the walls had been painted top to bottom with a mural of Oh! The Places You'll Go, and I instantly felt comforted. That is the kind of effect Dr Seuss books and illustrations have on people. Timeless comfort.
Overall, I think it's safe to say the world of Dr Seuss, isn't going anywhere anytime soon! With plays, musicals and films, that little boy who was born on this day all those years ago, would be overwhelmed with how much impact his imagination has had on everyone little or small.
Make sure you tag us in all of your Dr Seuss (or should I say Soice) makes!
Fabric: Dr Seuss - Books (2962)
Written by Jess Unsworth for The Craft Cotton Co 2023.