I have read many well written news or journal articles, but I can’t say that I have a favorite feature writer that I always follow. I love reading and I have many favorite authors. While I have many favorites, when asked who my favorite author is, I always say Theodore Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss.
I remember reading his books as a little girl and they were some of my favorite books. They helped me learn to read and learn to love reading. The stories opened my eyes to new and unique ideas. The illustrations as well as the word usage was creative and inventive. Dr. Seuss wasn’t afraid of creating a new and almost fantastical world.
The Dr. Seuss books and the ideas presented in them have stuck with me throughout my entire life. Geisel was able to phrase ideas in a way that was easy for children to remember.
In the book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, Geisel is able to show the true meaning of Christmas. “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps… means a little bit more!” The line is simple, but the idea is powerful and clear.
One of my favorite, and most quoted phrases, come from the book “The Lorax”. In the book a traveler, known as the Onceler, finds a beautiful land with many coloful truffula trees. It is a beautiful place filled with many animals. As the Onceler creates thneeds, the surrounding landscape is destroyed and the animals are forced to leave their home. Despite warnings from the Lorax, the Onceler continues his business until there are no trees left. All that remains is one seed. The Onceler gives the seed to a young boy with the admonition that “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Not only did he write concisely and succinctly in an easy to understand manner, he also wrote with vivid imagery.
The first lines of “The Lorax” describe the current state of the town. Geisel writes “At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows and the wind smells slow and sour when it blows.” You can almost feel and taste the scene instead of just seeing it.
With the addition of rhymes it makes the ideas and phrases easy to remember. There is a clear and definite pattern to the way Geisel writes and the words and rhythms flow naturally and almost effortlessly.
Geisel worked within his own limits as well. Often working within specific limits of guidelines feels constricting, but in the case of “Green Eggs and Ham”, Geisel was able to create a best seller adhering to strict guidelines. Bennett Cerf, co-founder of Random House books, made a $50 bet that Geisel couldn’t write a book with fifty or fewer different words. Geisel won the bet using exactly fifty different words. “Green Eggs and Ham” became one of Geisel’s most well-known works.
“Cat in the Hat” was another successful book of Geisel’s that was created because of a bet. The challenge was to write a book that a first-grader couldn’t put down and was limited to using 225 words from a first grade spelling list. Geisel used 236 words, more than the amount specified in the bet. Despite not winning this bet, Geisel took on the challenge. He put his best effort forward and created a children’s story that has had a lasting impression on generations.
That is why Theodore Geisel, though he was a children’s writer, is still one of my favorite authors today.