There is no one alive who is Youer than You

Oh, The Places You'll Go, Dr Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, opinion and commentary, tribute, National Read Across America Day 2015, political cartoons, social art

On this National Read Across America Day 2015, the chosen book is Dr Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Today would also have been the author’s 111th birthday.

Dr Seuss’s books were some of my favorites as a young reader, and I appreciate his talents even more today. But what I didn’t know until recently was the scope of Dr Seuss’s (born Theodor Seuss Geisel in 1904) work beyond the popular titles we know and love (Green Eggs and Ham, Horton Hears a Who, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, etc).

For instance, Seuss’s work as a political cartoonist was vast. During World War II, while writing for the leftist New York City newspaper PM, he produced over 400 drawings in over two years. Seuss addressed worldwide politics and issues from anti-semitism, isolationism to racism with a laser-like precision and with a fierceness of his convictions. Those cartoons were later published in Dr. Seuss Goes to War. It’s easy to see the future characters that would emerge in his children’s books from these drawings.

Dr Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, opinion and commentary, tribute, National Read Across America Day 2015, political cartoons, social art,

By 1942, Seuss turned his talents to supporting the war effort, and by 1943 he had enlisted – becoming head of the animation department. There, Seuss wrote film shorts, one of which was Our Job in Japan, which was later the basis for the academy-award winning documentary, Design for Death.

In 1943, he collaborated with another children’s book writer, Munro Leaf, and produced the campaign: This is Ann: She’s Dying to Meet You, that included a 32-page illustrated pamphlet and posters on the dangers of malaria. Ann – short for Anopheles – was an incredibly imaginative character based on a genus of malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The campaign against malaria had worked by mid-1944, with troops showing much lower infection rates.

Dr Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, opinion and commentary, tribute, National Read Across America Day 2015, political cartoons, social art, This is Ann campaign

An incredibly prolific and talented artist, writer, cartoonist and animator, Dr Seuss was a true original and his voice influenced and touched many.

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Happy Birthday to a man whose work I greatly admire, who gave us great stories, iconic characters and a bit of himself with each venture. And who once described himself “subversive as hell.” I like that too.

Cartoons © PM Magazine / Dr. Seuss Collection. Cartoons retrieved from UNT Digital Library. Image from This is Ann: She’s dying to meet you © Special Service Division, Army Service Forces, War Dept.: US G.P.O., 1943.

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