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Dr. Seuss -- Political Activist?

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We all know The Cat in the Hat and Sam I Am ... but did you know the REAL story behind some of these best-known children's books? The answer will surprise you!

Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

Theodore Geisel, or Dr. Seuss, would have been 105 today. Geisel published over 60 children's books, including classics like "Green Eggs and Ham," "The Cat in the Hat," and "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish." While it may be hard to see any symbolism behind memorable phrases like, "I do not like you, Sam I Am," Geisel's books reflected many political and social issues.

In honor of his birthday, we thought we'd share some of the stories behind Dr. Seuss courtesy of Mental Floss and

1) In case you haven't read "The Lorax," it's widely recognized as Dr. Seuss' take on environmentalism and how humans are destroying nature. Loggers were so upset about the book that some groups within the industry sponsored "The Truax," a similar book -- but from the logging point of view.

Another interesting fact: the book used to contain the line, "I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie," but 14 years after the book was published, the Ohio Sea Grant Program wrote to Seuss creator Theodore Geisel, and told him how much the conditions had improved and implored him to take the line out. Geisel agreed and said that it wouldn't be in future editions.

2) "The Cat in the Hat" was written because Dr. Seuss thought the famous Dick and Jane primers were insanely boring. Because kids weren't interested in the material, they weren't exactly compelled to use it repeatedly in their efforts to learn to read. So, "The Cat in the Hat" was born.

3) "Yertle the Turtle" = Hitler? Yep. If you haven't read the story, here's a little overview: Yertle is the king of the pond, but he wants more. He demands that other turtles stack themselves up so he can sit on top of them to survey the land. Mack, the turtle at the bottom, is exhausted. He asks Yertle for a rest; Yertle ignores him and demands more turtles for a better view.

4) It's often alleged that "Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!" was written specifically about Richard Nixon, but the book came out only two months after the whole Watergate scandal. It's unlikely that the book could have been conceived of, written, edited and mass produced in such a short time.

Also, Seuss never admitted that the story was originally about Nixon. That's not to say he didn't understand how well the two flowed together. In 1974, he sent a copy of Marvin K. Mooney to his friend Art Buchwald at the Washington Post. In it, he crossed out "Marvin K. Mooney" and replaced it with "Richard M. Nixon," which Buchwald reprinted in its entirety.

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11 comments so far | Post a comment now
SuessFan March 2, 2009, 3:17 PM

Let’s not forget “A person’s a person, no matter how small”!! And those unborn babies sure are small!

Spookygirl March 2, 2009, 6:55 PM

Sorry SuessFan, that one is a widely held, but FALSE assertion. Theodore Geisel adamantly denied that it was any kinds of statement on abortion, and went so far as to threaten to sue any pro-life organizations who used it.

deaddrift March 3, 2009, 12:47 AM

“The Butter Battle Book”? No mention?

SuessFan March 3, 2009, 9:11 AM

I thought it was his wife who’d denied it, but that still doesn’t change the wisdom in it.

Whether Suess was pro-life or not, it doesn’t change the fact that a person’s a person, no matter how small.

FOBFAN April 13, 2009, 11:10 AM

Butter battle book is mentioned here. And yeah he didn’t want it used as anti abortion ness.

Eiftlsze June 23, 2009, 12:42 PM

yV56dy comment3 ,

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