THE NOT-SO-MAD HATTER


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The Joyous Leaping of Uncanned Salmon” by T. Geisel

Theodore Geisel collected hats. He even encouraged visitors to wear one of his hats when they came to call. Hats were an obsession with him, and there were many which were weird enough to have been created especially for the characters in the books he wrote for children. In fact, most of the characters in his books wear hats, obviously crazy hats. Names such as “Yertle the Turtle, “The Bipolo Seed”, and “Green Eggs and Ham”, were music to kids.

He didn’t cure aches and pains, and he can’t cure a headache or fix teeth or brains, but Dr. Seuss has delighted three generations of children by introducing them to the menagerie of wild and crazy creatures of his imagination. Between 1937 and 1991 Theodore Seuss Geisel wrote 44-45 books and caused millions of children to grin and giggle when reading books such as “The Cat in the Hat” and “Horton Hears a Who”. I read my first Dr. Seuss book in 1937, which happens to be the year he wrote “And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street.”. His colorful language took learning to read many steps–many fun steps–beyond “Dick and Jane” and “See Spot Run”. Dr. Suess is good for anything which ails a child. He’s the Fix-it-up Chappie”. That’s why kids love Dr. Seuss–he’s very silly. The path to literacy begins at birth. Dr. Suess makes it fun.

But there’s another less well-known side to the Dr. Seuss story. Throughout all those years, Ted Geisel harbored a secret, one that is only now becoming public. After hours, when he was done with his day’s work on the children’s books that made him famous, he painted just for himself. The work ranges from cartoon-type line drawings to intricate oils. He painted birds, elephants, made-up creatures and cats. Lots of cats. Everything that Geisel did had that wacky, whimsical, quirky, Seussian quality. Also little-known, were the ‘Unorthodox Sculptures’ of fanciful creature heads. His was a mind which thankfully never stopped thinking of ridiculous creatures in ridicullous and unlikely situations.

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