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February 12, 2013

The Author Himself Was a Cat in the Hat

This hat from Theodor Geisel's collection resembles the one worn by the Cat in the Hat.

This hat from Theodor Geisel’s collection resembles the one worn by the Cat in the Hat.


The Cat wore a hat. Everyone knows that.

But so did Sam-I am, the mooing Mr. Brown and the fat fish from “One Fish, Two Fish” — a tiny yellow hat.

The Grinch disguised himself in a crinkled Santa hat.

All over Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s books, his characters sport distinctive, colorful headwear — unless they are the kinds of creatures that have it sprouting naturally from their heads in tufted, multitiered and majestically flowing formations.

So it’s no surprise that the real Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, was a hat lover himself. He collected hundreds of them, plumed, beribboned and spiked, and kept them in a closet hidden behind a bookcase in his home in the La Jolla section of San Diego. He incorporated them into his personal paintings, his advertising work and his books. He even insisted that guests to his home don the most elaborate ones he could find.

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January 16, 2013

Maurice Sendak illustrations to go up for auction

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, first edition, signed and inscribed with a drawing, New York, 1963. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, first edition, signed and inscribed with a drawing, New York, 1963. Estimate $10,000 to $15,000.

The art will be sold along with pieces by Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter, Charles M. Schulz and others

By Prachi Gupta

A rare collection of illustrations by the late beloved children’s book author and illustrator Maurice Sendak is about to go on sale in New York. The collection was consigned to Swann Auction Galleries from the the wife of Sendak’s late friend Reed Orenstein, the latter having forged a lifelong friendship with the writer. Among other original illustrations, Orenstein’s collection contains a signed first edition copy of Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” and eight pencil sketches Sendak drew for his animated CBS show “Really Rosie,” which aired in 1975.

The items go on auction Jan. 24 along with art from other greats, including Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter, “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, and many others, some of which are featured below:

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January 9, 2013

A Catalog of Bookstore Cats.

maggieBy Richard Davies

Ever wondered what is the collective term for a group of bookstore cats? We think it should be catalog. Incidentally, a clowder is the term for a group of ordinary cats and a kindle (yes, really) is a group of kittens. AbeBooks asked some of our booksellers to describe the cats that inhabit their bookshops and we now have a gallery of fine felines. Cats and literature have mixed well for a long, long time from T.S. Elliot’s Practical Cats to Edward Lear’s Pussy Cat and Dr Seuss’ Cat in the Hat. Take a tour around these wonderful bookish cats, their owners and their bookstores. If you have a bookstore cat that should be featured in our ‘catalog’, send details and a picture to

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July 23, 2012

20 Best-Selling Children’s Books of All Time

Filed under: Children's books — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:39 pm

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Image courtesy of Random House

By John Perritano

Authors come and go, while others, especially those who scribe for children, withstand the yellowing of the folios. For generations, Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter and E.B. White have delighted parents and kids with their timeless tomes. No home library would be worth is shelf space without a mischievous cat in a hat, a lovable spider or a furry rabbit whose moniker is Peter.

While Seuss, White and Potter have been stalwarts on the best-selling list for generations, something wonderful, some would say magical, happened in the 1990s. A down-on-her-luck British writer, J.K. Rowling, waved a magic wand and changed children’s literature forever. She introduced us to a boy wizard in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Seven books later, Rowling became one of best-selling authors on this or any other planet, as Hogwarts, Muggle and Quidditch nuzzled their way into our cultural lexicon.

Rowling’s success blew holes in the all-time children’s best-seller list. The magazine, Publishers Weekly, was the last to catalog the best children’s books in 2001. That was long before Rowling’s last volume in 2007, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, sold 15 million copies in the first 24 hours, eclipsing in one day the all-time children’s best-seller, “The Poky Little Puppy”, first published in 1942 [sources: Forbes; Random House].

By 2011, Rowling had sold 450 million or so Harry Potter books . We say “or so” because trying to corral the sales figure of a book is like trying to capture a Golden Snitch during a round of Quidditch. In fact, by the time you finish reading this sentence, a few hundred more Harry Potters and Cat in the Hats have been sold.

Go to the next page and thumb through the 20 best-selling children’s books of all time incorporating the sales figures for, shall we say his name? Harry Potter. No doubt you might have favorite, or two.

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March 11, 2012

50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected

Whether you’re a struggling writer, or just studying to be one, you probably know that there’s a lot of rejection in your future. But don’t be dismayed, rejection happens even to the best. Here are 50 well-respected writers who were told no several times, but didn’t give up.

  1. Dr. Seuss: Here you’ll find a list of all the books that Dr. Seuss’ publisher rejected.
  2. William Golding: William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was rejected 20 times before becoming published.
  3. James Joyce: James Joyce’s Ulysses was judged obscene and rejected by several publishers.
  4. Isaac Asimov: Several of Asimov’s stories were rejected, never sold, or eventually lost.
  5. John le Carre: John le Carre’s first novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, was passed along because le Carre “hasn’t got any future.”

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March 8, 2012

Dr. Seuss’s Little-Known Book of Nudes

By Maria Popova

What happened when the beloved children’s author tried to write for adults

One hundred eight years ago today, the world welcomed Theodor Seuss Geisel, better-known as Dr. Seuss—legendary children’s book author, radical ideologist, lover of reading. Among his many creative feats is a fairly unknown, fairly scandalous one: In 1939, when Geisel left Vanguard for Random House, he had one condition for his new publisher, Bennett Cerf—that he would let Geisel do an “adult” book first. The result was The Seven Lady Godivas: The True Facts Concerning History’s Barest Family, which tells the story of nudist sisters who, after their father’s death, pledge not to wed until each of them has “brought to the light of the world some new and worthy Horse Truth, of benefit to man.”

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January 31, 2012

Mulberry Street May Fade, but ‘Mulberry Street’ Shines On


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — “I’ll take you to see Mulberry Street,” said Guy McLain, the director of the Museum of Springfield History.

He meant the real Mulberry Street, the one that inspired the first of Dr. Seuss’ 44 children’s books.

I started to think what I might see on Mulberry Street. Truffula trees? Gerald McGrew? Gertrude McFuzz? A Once-ler or two?

That’s the thing about Dr. Seuss. He gets in your head and stays there.

I was listening to the radio last week when I heard an announcer say that this year is the 75th anniversary of the publication of “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.”

Dr. Seuss has sold 600 million books, so I figured there had to be something going on Mulberry Street. Springfield is where Ted Geisel was born in 1904 and thought his formative thoughts, before going off to Dartmouth in 1921 and becoming Dr. Seuss.

I planned to reread several Seuss books for the visit, including “The Sneetches,” but could not find our copy. It turned out that one of my 21-year-old twins, Adam, had taken it with him to college.

Dr. Seuss books aren’t primarily schoolbooks. They’re read-to-your-children-in-bed books. Christin LaRocque, a librarian at the Central branch in downtown Springfield, says Seuss books need to be replaced more often than any others — they wear out or disappear.

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December 4, 2011

Liz Pichon’s top 10 funny books with pictures

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From classic writers such as Spike Milligan and Dr Seuss to newer names Lauren Child and Andy Stanton, the winner of this year’s Roald Dahl funny prize picks her favourite laugh-out-loud illustrated stories.

“Some of the books my children would ask me to read at bedtime were so dreary I’d be the one falling asleep! I’d often make up my own story to go with the pictures, but that only worked when they were little (and couldn’t read). It was soon… “You missed a bit” or “you turned over four pages” … “did I? Are you sure?”

This might seem a bit sneaky on my part, but it’s not easy making fairy fluff stories sound interesting after the 15th time of reading them. So the trick was to try and find books that we all enjoyed reading. Funny books worked a treat for that. I could even get my son (who’s older) to come and listen too.

The below list isn’t in any particular order. They’re just all very funny…”
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September 26, 2011

The Children’s Authors Who Broke the Rules

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The stylistic eccentricities of Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein and Theodor Geisel, a k a Dr. Seuss, are so much a part of the childhood vernacular today that it’s hard to imagine their books were once considered by some to be wholly inappropriate for children.

Yet these three authors — who each have a new book coming out this month in what can only be described as a Seussian coincidence (“But, see! We are as good as you. Look! Now we have new books, too!”) — challenged the conception of what a children’s book should be. And children’s literature, happily, has never been the same.

Once upon a more staid time, the purpose of children’s books was to model good behavior. They were meant to edify and to encourage young readers to be what parents wanted them to be, and the children in their pages were well behaved, properly attired and devoid of tears. Children’s literature was not supposed to shine a light on the way children actually were, or delight in the slovenly, self-interested and disobedient side of their natures.

Seuss, Sendak and Silverstein ignored these rules. They brought a shock of subversion to the genre — defying the notion that children’s books shouldn’t be scary, silly or sophisticated. Rather than reprimand the wayward listener, their books encouraged bad (or perhaps just human) behavior. Not surprisingly, Silverstein and Sendak shared the same longtime editor, Ursula Nordstrom of Harper & Row, a woman who once declared it her mission to publish “good books for bad children.”

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September 24, 2011

“…Gone With a Tip of His Hat”

Filed under: Today in Literature — Tags: , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:15 am

Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904 - 1991)

On this day in 1991 Theodor Seuss Geisel died, at the age of eighty-seven. Geisel turned to children’s books in his late twenties, when his job creating ads for “Flit” insect repellent — his “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” became a household slogan across America — left him well-off and bored. The next fifty years brought forty-eight books, three Oscars, two Emmys and a Pulitzer.

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