Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss-a poem, a book, poetry Friday, and SOLSC-Whew!

                        For all things poetic, visit Dori at Dori Reads!   It’s Poetry Friday!

Could there be anything more clichéd
or old hat,  simply out-of-date made
than to celebrate wildly
and settle in mildly
while reading about Seuss escapades?

I grabbed all the books I could find
to keep moving along with this rhyme
I found several missives
that kept me in stitches
And figured out Seuss blessed us in kind.

These first words of Seuss’s creation,
early laughs - stories of our nation
found zany, early words,
showing always absurd
his beginning imagination.

Happy Birthday dearest Dr. Seuss,
May Lorax and Grinch be ever loose,                    
Mr. Brown, and Horton too,
They are why we savor you
Thank you for all you produced!

                                             Linda


photo credit: garlandcannon via photopin cc



Last week, I started thinking about celebrating one of our beloved children’s poets on his birthday. Although I know there is nothing wrong with acknowledging great appreciation for all the words he’s written, all the drawings he’s made, and all the causes he’s touched, I wished to find some new things to say about him. 


I combed our library and found that out of many, all of his books were checked out but one.  This is a collection of Theodore Geisel's early works, titled The Tough Coughs As He Ploughs the Dough: Early Writings and Cartoons.  Before his fame as a children’s writer, Ted Geisel was a writer and illustrator for humor magazines.  In this book is a collection of some of his funniest cartoons about all sorts of silly subjects, and his words are sometimes nonsensical but hilarious. 
In the 1920’s, a behaviorally outrageous time before the crash, many humor magazines in
colleges were popular, and according to the introduction of this book, many wanted to mimic the Harvard Lampoon.  One weekly was titled the Judge, and there were other magazines like the Cornell Widow, the Michigan Gargoyle, and the Princeton Tiger


Also, there was the Dartmouth Jack O’ Lantern and a student named Theodore Seuss Geisel who created cartoons for his college paper but that soon spread across the nation.    According to the book’s introduction by a Richard Marschall, titled “Just What The Doctor Disordered”, Geisel took his mother’s maiden name, added the designation as Doctor, and began to delight many with his ‘bizarre character types, outrageous puns, and corny captions.”  The mood of the 20’s was irreverent and a rising star named Corey Ford, of the Jester, called them A Time of Laughter.  One example in the book is a drawing of a cellist looking at a pianist.  Seuss uses an old joke in his drawing.  The caption reads:  “Curse you, Mr. Whitmann, once more you are off your Beethoven!”  “And again, my dear Gershwitz, you have flown off the Handel.”
Here in this book for adults you can find and enjoy the humor you’ve laughed over with your children for years, and here are the ancestors of all the beautifully strange zoo of animals Geisel created for children, like the Grinch, the Lorax and Horton. 

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss and thank you for all the gifts you’ve given us.

      As all poems are wordy gems, I must share one more little example from the book, although not a poem.  One page is titled, Just What Is A Vernacular Anyway?  The page claims to show answers to a nationwide survey sent to ask what is meant by the phrase “They were talking in the vernacular.”  In one part, a cartoon shows two men in a small plane, looking at one another and obviously conversing.  They have leashes that lead to five funny animals on the ground.  In part, the caption says that a vernacular is “a sort of a yachting hat worn by the drivers of aerial sled dogs.  As only one man can wear one hat at a time, the phrase should be corrected to read, “They talked in two Vernaculars.”

            I hope you can find the book and enjoy it as much as I have.


35 comments:

  1. I loved learning the bit of history here! It was great to get the context of the 1920's and how his work spread as we can only imagine. You even worked it into the poem. I definitely will check out this book. Thanks for honoring this legend!

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  2. Years ago the Yellowstone Art Museum exhibited some of his illustrations. Many of these were from his "advertisement copy days". Others were from WWII era when he did quite a bit of work as a political cartoonist. Have you read the book "Dr, Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel". It is an amazing book. A great addition to the study of WWII.

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  3. I learned something (and enjoyed your poem). Since it is our weekend I plan on sprinkling our day, tomorrow, with some Dr. Seuss. Luckily I have my own copies and don't have to hold my breath as I look in the library. However I might have to go looking for The Tough Coughs... I am intrigued.

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  4. Fun poem and fabulous history lesson! I will absolutely hunt down that book - what a gift to find it. Thanks for an entertaining and informative post! :)

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  5. You know I usually don't pay much attention to Dr. Suess' birthday. It's a primary grade thing mostly. But I think perhaps I shall today. Thanks for the inspiration! I love your poem.

    Katie
    http://coffeefueledmusings.wordpress.com

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  6. You have once again enlightened me. Those are some amazing facts. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins was my favorite book of Dr. Seuss, and Hop on Pop hooked my son.

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  7. Oh, the places I go when I arrive at your blog! Like Katie, I don't think about Suess as a middle school thing, and sometimes I think my kids are over-Suessed by he time they get to 6th. Grade...but this is interesting stuff,Linda - so this year will start something new.

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  8. Entertaining and educating combination of poetry and history. Thank you.

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  9. What a fun and rollicking post Linda! We love Dr. Seuss at our house and have Fox in Socks tongue twister contests from time to time ('shin pin bin' is my favorite) but I had no idea of Seuss's larger history and work. You have inspired me to check it out!

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  10. So interesting. And you know what I find the most interesting - your point that the 1920's was a crazy time before the crash - and you're right, it was. However in doing the #nerdbery challenge I had forgotten that because of the winners from the 1920's make me want to fall asleep from boredom. (Other than Dolittle) Wonder what happened in children's lit then. Thanks for the info on Dr. Seuss!

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  11. I love Dr, Seuss. I often use his books even with high school kids! Yesterday several of my speech students were "celebrity" readers and I have a young man dressing up as the Cat in the Hat and visiting the elementary this morning! He is performing a song from the musical in several classrooms!

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  12. I will look for that one. I have my DR. Seuss slippers that I will loan to the kindergarten teacher today for her Seuss celebration.

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  13. What a wonderful tribute to one of my favorite author/ poets!

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  14. Hi Linda, I grew up with Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss is such a favorite. I didn't know about this book. Truth be told, I know very little about his life story and his earlier works, so it is great to learn a bit about that here. What a beautiful tribute you made today! I also use some of his works when I teach my teacher-students: Hooray for Diffendoofer Day is what I usually read aloud. :)

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  15. Yesterday my third graders read to a kindergarten buddy as part of Thursday with Theodore. It had me thinking back to this writer's impact. Great poem!

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  16. Love the poem and the history! I can't wait to share with my kids -- and I must see that book!

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  17. Thanks for sharing your wondeful poem.

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  18. Wow -- what a poem. I always love reading your posts. :)
    Happy writing,
    Ruth

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  19. Happy Birthday dearest Dr. Seuss,
    May Lorax and Grinch be ever loose,
    Mr. Brown, and Horton too,
    They are why we savor you
    Thank you for all you produced!

    Your poem is wonderful! I especially liked the last stanza. Dr. Seuss brought joy to many generations of children and adults. I can't wait to see The Lorax!

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  20. I just read 1/2 of The Lorax to Isabelle last night. I think she liked the rhythm of the words.

    LOVE Dr. Seuss! What a genius.

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  21. So interesting to hear the history. We all have one, but we don't often think about what our favorite authors did before we knew them. Thanks for sharing.

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  22. Thanks for sharing Seussical history. We are all wearing red, black and white today. Tuesday for Family Library Night we will be celebrating again.

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  23. My mom used to write us Dr. Seuss-esque poems when she and my father went away on vacation. We would get a poem a day. Your verse to open this post reminded me of those poems. Thank you! And I love that you showed some love to the left behind Seuss book!

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  24. We read Dr. Seuss today for Poetry Friday too, but I wasn't nearly as clever as you! Didn't even attempt to write any! This is really fun!

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  25. I found out about his b day from Tuvia's grandchildren. They are so excited by him and can't wait to see the Lorax. I wonder if they would be feeling the same if they were back home in Israel?
    I can't imagine life without Seuss, can you?
    Bonnie

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  26. I learned something new today! I remember being in the Dr. Seuss book club where I would get 2 new books in the mail every month. I'm sure I learned how to read with those books.

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  27. I love your tribute poem! How cute and creative! The rest of the info you shared was fascinating too! P.S. I love that you translated your comment for me into Spanish! :)

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  28. What a wonderful way to celebrate such a gifted writer like Dr. Seuss - love the poem!! A few people have posted poetry for their slice of life, and it so impresses me because I tend to be more of a narrative type of gal. Let's see if by Day 31, I can stretch my wings a little - you will most certainly be one of my mentors!

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  29. This week we read Green Eggs and Ham and worked with the Lorax--two books that I think encapsulate Ted's influence. On the one hand, he revolutionized texts for beginning readers, and on the other he commented loudly and pointedly (but sadly not as effectively as we might wish) on the rise of the industrial- military complex. I love children's book people! Thanks for this slice of history.

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  30. He was one amazing man, from green eggs all the way to vernacular!

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  31. What a great way to celebrate the day! Your poem and cheer and wild citings made me smile. Thank you!

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  32. Being an alumna of the same college as Dr. Seuss, he has a special place in my heart. During freshman trips (pre-orientation outdoors trips) they used to always read Green Eggs and Ham while serving the same. The faces of the students was priceless when the green eggs and ham came out of the kitchen!

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  33. Thanks for all the background info! I had no idea it was Seuss' birthday (shame on Google for not giving me a doodle heads up!) I love the "Tough Coughs ..." I could have used that in my classes!

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  34. A worthy Seussian birthday tribute, Linda! Thanks for all the time and fun you put into this post. :0)

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  35. Thanks for sharing this, Linda! I tend to OD on Seuss. I love him (particularly Horton!), but a little bit goes a long way. I really enjoyed learning about some of his other artistic expressions. Thanks!

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