Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

TODAY i'm wishing a happy 105th to one of the greatest writers this country has known, and one i've come to appreciate more as i've revisited him for the sake of my son. (i only regret that the good doctor did not have the good fortune to be born an aquarius.)

there are many wonderful authors for little kids -- lucy cousins, eric carle, byron barton, ezra jack keats -- but for an adult who loves the sound of language, what an electric jolt it is to get to the point where you can read junior dr. seuss! even a simple, almost monosyllabic book like
"hop on pop" is quite ingenious.

perhaps my favorite of his, and certainly the most poignant of his books, is THE LORAX. here is a recent LAT story, not by me, about that book and how is speaks to both the past and present of the green movement.

part of what has struck me as i've read the book for the second and third time on the same day to my son ian is how stodgy the lorax himself is. that is, here is a book written effectively, in "the 60s" (it came out in 1971), with an enviro/countercultural message, and where the hero is someone who represents not youth but the wisdom of the ages. in fact, the once-ler, the spirit of full-speed-ahead capitalism and innovation, has a younger, more dynamic spirit and actually calls the doomy lorax "dad" in a condescending way. we have geisel, an older liberal, looking at his times and coming to an original conclusion about what's needed. it also presages the way al gore was often portrayed.

(a great overlooked book is "on beyond zebra," which posits a kind of psychedelic alphabet that picks up where ours lets off. appealed to my childhood love of codes and hidden things.)

but you've surely got your own favorites. either way, happy birthday to the good doctor!!

Photo credit: Flickr user 31


Craig Timberg said...

Happy Birthday Dr. S! His passing in September 1991 was a crucial moment in my courtship with my wife. We held a green-eggs-and-ham memorial dinner that was almost a date, a proto-date I suppose, that led to our eventual marriage and family. Now our kids are HUGE Dr. Seuss fans. And the Lorax is our favorite of them all, followed closely by the also socially conscious Star-bellied-Sneeches.

By Craig Timberg

Scott Timberg said...

now that i know those three delightful kids were virtually spawned by dr. seuss i like him even better!