Mimicking Dr. Seuss’ famous rhyming pairs, debut author and illustrator team Hymas and Conner offer a cursory biography of the beloved author.
Although most children are familiar with the name Dr. Seuss, they may assume that he is a real doctor who might “fix your tooth when it gets loose.” Hymas explains that Seuss is an author: a writer of books, newspapers, or magazines. Introducing Seuss’ life, Hymas rhymes: “He was born March 2, 1904 / To Henrietta Seuss and Theodor.” Theodor Seuss Geisel, nicknamed Teddy by everyone but his father (who called him “Sport”), began taking drawing classes in high school, where he was told his animals were too silly. Though Conner’s illustrations are whimsical and silly, they are very much in her own style rather than Seuss’. Still, children will understand that a polka-dot lion with green bird feet and a curled, star-tipped tail is meant to evoke Seuss’ own illustrations. When Seuss decided to become a writer, he paired his father’s dream of his becoming a doctor with his mother’s maiden name for his pen name. (A quick fact: according to Hymas, Seuss actually rhymes with choice!) Seuss wrote for the newspaper through college, creating his own comic strip that was nationally syndicated. During an ocean voyage, Seuss came up with the refrain that became the title of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which was rejected by 27 publishers before it was finally published. Retelling anecdotes that line up well with Seuss’ life, Hymas recounts the creation of The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham as well as Seuss’ decision to write books he was not illustrating himself under the name Theo LeSieg. Over his career, Seuss sold over 200 million books, and the celebration of his life in many elementary classrooms and libraries makes biographies of this author perpetual favorites, especially one like this geared toward the youngest readers. Occasionally, the layout of Hymas’ text can make finding the rhymes difficult: “An author writes all kinds of things like books, newspapers, and magazines” lines up “like” with “magazines” rather than “things” with “magazines”—a stretch anyway, made more difficult to scan without appropriate line breaks.
With a quick delivery of facts and the whimsical, child-friendly illustrations and rhymes, this is an excellent choice for Seuss-centered storytimes and celebrations.