dr seuss

On Our Bookshelves – The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss

***

BOOK: The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss

AUTHOR: Theodor Geisel (illustrator), Maurice Sendak (introduction)

YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1995

REVIEW:

Everyone loves Dr. Seuss, at least every kid I know, and every adult who was once a kid. Whether it’s the Grinch, the Lorax, the Sneetches, Sam I Am, or the anarchic Cat in the Hat, the books are irresistible. But when Theodor Geisel wasn’t being Dr. Seuss, he created his own art, for his own enjoyment, and if you are interested in what he got up to in his private time, you just may want to check this book out.

Some things are familiar here: the strange creatures, the fantasy settings, the riotous imagination. But he broke out of the bright colors and limited palette of his children’s books, and created some darker, more adult, and more sophisticated work, with a sly sense of humor to boot.

***

Maurice Sendak (who was fortunate enough to be friends with him) described the art depicted here thus: “…you have entered Seussville, where questions and doubts are left at the door with the coo-coo something-or-other. Enjoy yourself. The slippery, sloppery, curvy, altogether delicious Art Deco palazzos invite you to slide and bump along, in and out of flaming colored mazes (where serious cats lurk and hang about), and past grand, even apocalyptic, oceans and skies. The book is filled with fabulous geometric conundrums. Their milky, thirties movieland dippiness best conjures for me the private Seussian dreamscape: a Cat in the Hat theme park world, where loops and hoops and squares and limp bagel shapes, all charted with exotic color, have the demented nightmare effects provoked by a dinner of green eggs and ham.” And his widow, Audrey Geisel, included a personal note of her memories of her late husband painting after midnight…“something he did for himself and not something he felt comfortable in sharing.”

What he did for himself included an Impractical Marshmallow-Toasting Device and a Cat Carnival in West Venice, some sculptures, some very unusual self-portraits, and a Pink-Tufted Small Beast. I’m glad she decided to share them with the rest of us.

***

If you’re a Dr. Seuss fan (and seriously, who isn’t?) here’s a nice opportunity to see a different side of him. And it’s a terrific gift book—maybe for the book lover who already has everything?

RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 3 Whistles

***

HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon

***

Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.

Laura can be contacted at laura@newswhistle.com

***

Lead-In Image Courtesy of Penguin Random House

***

dr seuss embed

***

ALSO ON OUR BOOKSHELVES:

A Countess Below Stairs, Eva Ibbotson

A Patchwork Planet, Anne Tyler

A Room With a View, E.M. Forster

An Infamous Army, Georgette Heyer

Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Anne Of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon

Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan

Books for Living, Will Schwalbe

Bunker Hill, Nathan Philbrick

Burmese Days, George Orwell

Cannery Row, John Steinbeck

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

Cloudstreet, Tim Winton

Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith

Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons

Doctor Jazz, Hayden Carruth

Ed Emberly’s Drawing Book of Animals, Ed Emberly

Endangered Pleasures, Barbara Holland

Envious Casca, Georgette Heyer

Foreign Affairs, Alison Lurie

Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers

Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee

Good Poems, Garrison Keillor

Gowanus Waters, Steven Hirsch

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne

Heads in Beds, Jacob Tomsky

Here is New York, E.B. White

Hide My Eyes, Margery Allingham

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, Laurie Colwin

Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

If on a winter’s night a traveler, Italo Calvino

Lexicon, Max Barry

Longbourn, Jo Baker

Madeleine’s Ghost, Robert Girardi

Malice Aforethought, Frances Iles

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Helen Simonson

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Jon Krakauer

Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut

My Life in France, Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro

Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

Notorious RBG, Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

One Summer: America 1927, Bill Bryson

Out of the Blackout, Robert Bernard

Parnassus on Wheels & The Haunted Bookshop, Christopher Morley

Plotted: A Literary Atlas, Andrew DeGraff

Possession, A.S. Byatt

Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle…and Other Modern Verse, Stephen Dunning, Edward Lueders, and Hugh Smith

Ringworld, Larry Niven

Rose Madder, Stephen King

Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rivelli

Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Ed., Lewis Carroll & Martin Gardner (with original illustrations by John Tenniel)

The Cuckoo’s Calling, Robert Galbraith

The Dancer of Izu, Kawabata Yasunari

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat, Oliver Sacks

The Martian, Andy Weir

The Missing Piece, Shel Silverstein

The Modern Kids, Jona Frank

The Monogram Murders, Sophie Hannah

The Mother & Child Project, Hope Through Healing Hands (ed.)

The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark

The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats

The Tender Bar, J.R. Moehringer

The Translator, Nina Schuyler

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, Saki

The Weird World of Wes Beattie, John Norman Harris

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

The Women in Black, Madeleine St John

They Call Me Naughty Lola, David Rose

Thing Explainer, Randall Munroe

What If?, Randall Munroe

When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi

Up At the Villa, W. Somerset Maugham

84, Charing Cross Road, Helene Hanff