|One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish|
"I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, which is what I do. And that enables you to laugh at life's realities." ~Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)
And that sentiment is obvious when you revisit his books, or see the bronze statues depicting his famous characters. I had the delightful pleasure of seeing 6 of these statues on display at Dow Gardens, in Midland, MI, and can't wait to re-read the books! I happened to see the traveling exhibit advertised, grabbed a friend who would understand my child-like excitement, and hurried over, as it closes on September 1.
I am The Lorax, I speak for the trees
I speak for the trees,
for the trees have no tongue."
"UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~ Dr. Seuss
Familiar character #2 doesn't need much of an introduction.
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas|
The Grinch is actually modeled after Geisel himself. Apparently he looked in the mirror the day after Christmas and saw a Grinch-like face staring back. "Something had gone awfully wrong with Christmas or maybe with me," he said. Tired of the over-commercialization of the holiday, and the worry that the true meaning of Christmas was getting lost in all the trimmings, he sat down and wrote this timeless tale.
Moving on to the Children's Garden, we couldn't miss it's centerpiece.
|The Cat in the Hat|
The Cat in the Hat was written after Houghton Mifflin challenged Geisel to "write and illustrate a child's primer using only 225 'new reader' vocabulary words." I am sure I would have a difficult time with that challenge but it's obvious he was able to do so, with great success.
My personal favorite is this next one, a story I have loved since I was a child. But I never understood the significance of this story until I read the backstory on this visit to the gardens.
"And the turtles, of course...
all the turtles are free as turtles
and, maybe, all creatures should be."
Geisel used the word "maybe" purposefully, allowing children to think about what he was saying here, and come to the realization that there was no "maybe" about it.
|Yertle the Turtle|
After Yertle I was satisfied and thought I could have stopped there, but then there stood Sam with his Green Eggs and Ham!
|Green Eggs and Ham|
This particular story I am not familiar with, but after this experience I am planning on reading these stories with new eyes. A National Education Association survey of children and teachers ranks Green Eggs and Ham as 3rd in their 100 most popular books. It seems that Geisel loved a good wager, as this story was written after his publisher bet him $50.00 that he couldn't write a "cogent and entertaining book" using no more than 50 different words. With this book he proved that wager wrong, and spent the rest of his life "complaining," good naturedly, that he never got his money.
And just when I thought I couldn't be delighted any more than I already was... there was Horton and friend, sitting tall above what looked like a mass of little Who's!
|Horton Hears a Who|
What a great sculpture, and setting! A symbol of "loyalty, equality, and faithfulness", this character came into being after Geisel visited some schools in Japan after WWII. At that time individualism was a new philosophy and this informed his theme for Horton Sees a Who:
"A person's a person,
no matter how small."
So much fun! A lot of this information came from the placards near the statues, but there is also a very nice website with even more information, on the traveling exhibit as well as on Geisel and his other projects. For instance, did you know he had an extensive hat collection? He had so many that he turned his hobby into another book - The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.
I highly recommend viewing these and other sculptures when you can, as well as visiting the website at www.drseussart.com. There is also a Facebook page titled The Art of Dr. Seuss, and another page dedicated to, and called, Dr. Seuss.
Fun Fact: Ted Geisel said he wrote for adults, not children. His wife said he really didn't like children very much!
There is something about tapping into that long-forgotten child within that is rejuvenating.