LITERATURE

Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination

Dutton. May 2019. 496p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781524742782. $32; ebk. ISBN 9781524742805. LIT
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OrangeReviewStarJones (George Lucas) gets it right in this delightful and informative biography, which details how the widely admired Dr. Seuss emerged from the lesser-known but talented Theodor Geisel (1904–91). The American cartoonist and author's first step toward fame was an ad campaign for a bug spray, but it was his best-selling children's books, especially The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham, that made him a household name. Jones notes how Geisel could be a pleasant companion but also a pain in the neck. The near-constant warfare between the artist and Phyllis Cerf (wife of Random House publisher Bennett Cerf) over almost all details of any work published in their Beginner Books line makes for fascinating reading. Jones gives careful attention to the death of Geisel's first wife, Helen, who took her life in 1961, at age 69. A year later he married film producer Audrey Stone, with whom he lived until his death 23 years later, writing and drawing almost to the very end.
VERDICT This attractive biography should be on the bedside reading table of thousands of Dr. Seuss lovers, and deservedly so.

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