Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss) was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist who published 46 children’s books including Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat. His works have been adapted for television, film, and theatre. He won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award twice.
Today is the anniversary of his birthday. He was born 2 March 1904, and died 24 September 1991. His birthday has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative created by the National Education Association.
- You can fool an adult into thinking he’s reading profundities by sprinkling your prose with purple passages. But with a kid you can’t get away with that. Two sentences in a children’s book is the equivalent of two chapters in an adult book. For a 60-page book I’ll probably write 500 pages. I think that’s why it works. I winnow out.
- Words and pictures are yin and yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.
- Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humour, which is awfully important in this day and age. Humour has a tremendous place in this sordid world. It’s more than just a matter of laughing. If you can see things out of whack, then you can see how things can be in whack.
- You have to do tricks with pacing, alternate long sentences with short, to keep it alive and vital. Virtually every page is a cliff-hanger—you’ve got to force them to turn it.
- You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.
- I tend to basically exaggerate in life, and in writing, it’s fine to exaggerate. I really enjoy overstating for the purpose of getting a laugh. It’s very flattering, that laugh, and at the same time it gives pleasure to the audience and accomplishes more than writing very serious things. For another thing, writing is easier than digging ditches. Well, actually that’s an exaggeration. It isn’t.
Dr Seuss On Writing
It has often been said
there’s so much to be read,
you never can cram
all those words in your head.
So the writer who breeds
more words than he needs
is making a chore
for the reader who reads.
That’s why my belief is
the briefer the brief is,
the greater the sigh
of the reader’s relief is.
Theodor Geisel also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, and as a political cartoonist for PM, a New York City newspaper. During World War II, he worked in an animation department of the United States Army, where he wrote Design for Death, which won an Academy Award for Documentary Feature.