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BREAKING NEWS

Cats still have hats – outrage may be misplaced

By Staff | Mar 8, 2021

Last week marked Read Across

America Day and the birthday

of the late Theodore Geisel, better

known as Dr. Seuss, author

of fancifully illustrated, rhyming

books beloved by children

for generations. The National

Education Association released

guidance to schools to consider

de-emphasizing Read Across

America Day as Dr. Seuss’ birthday,

instead celebrating a greater

variety of books. At the same

time, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the

company that owns the rights

to Dr. Seuss’ work, released a

statement that they have chosen

to cease publication and licensing

of six out of the author’s

over 60 books. We include an

image of the statement here.

This does not appear to us as

a matter of free speech, of book

banning, of cancel culture. Dr.

Seuss Enterprises owns the book

properties and publishing rights

to all of these books and decided

to put about one-tenth of their

catalog out of print at this time.

If Dr. Seuss, who passed in

1991, had designated an heir apparent

to continue and modernize

his work, this could possibly

have been a matter of revamping

some illustrations and other material.

Fellow children’s content

legend Jim Henson, creator of

the Muppets, has not only his

son, Brian, but most of his five

children now involved in the

production company he founded

in some way. Any of his characters

or creations that haven’t

stood the test of time could be

reworked in studio.

Without anyone to whom he

could hand his creative torch,

Dr. Seuss’ legal entity can only

make the decisions they feel he

would make.

“And to Think that I Saw it

on Mulberry Street,” was Dr.

Seuss’ first children’s book,

published in 1937. It seems like

it wouldn’t be a decision taken

lightly to simply pull it out of

print. He didn’t publish another

children’s book until “If I Ran

the Zoo,” in 1950, another work

that was pulled.

Ted Geisel, the man, came into

children’s books after a career

of illustrating for “Vanity Fair”

and for advertising agencies, and

between “Mulberry Street” and

“Zoo,” filmed documentaries

for the U.S. Army during World

War II, and made over 400 political

cartoons in two years as

editorial cartoonist for the newspaper

PM. These are collected

in the book, “Dr. Seuss Goes

to War.” The content of these

cartoons, denouncing Hitler and

Mussolini, and American isolationists

like Charles Lindbergh,

and criticizing racism against

Japanese Americans.

“Mulberry Street” almost never

saw the light of day. Geisel

said he was on his way to burn

it when he had a chance meeting

with a college friend who

brought it to Vanguard Press,

showing it is often not how good

you are, but whom you know.

Geisel’s education at Dartmouth

and Oxford, he said, were instrumental

to getting his foot

(whether one, two, red or blue)

in the door.

There’s little lost in literary

lexicon with the dropping of

these two books. Almost all

of Geisel’s books of verse are

written in anapestic tetrameter,

a poetic meter employed by

many poets, including Clement

C. Moore in “A Visit From

St. Nicholas (T’was the Night

Before Christmas…)”

It’s also used by Lord Byron

in “Don Juan,” and Eminem in

“The Way I Am.” It can most

easily be described as four “da,

da DUM”s.

No one here has been a jerk

The company pulled its own,

old work

This move is full of freedom,

choice

Dr. Seuss’ work still has a

voice.