Word Parts: Theodor Seuss Geisel
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Dr. Seuss is the pen name of Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904–1991) who began drawing fantastic animal cartoons while he was still a child. (His father ran the local zoo.) An art teacher told him that he would never learn to draw, and twenty-seven publishers rejected his first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937). Even so, Dr. Seuss went on to write and illustrate more than forty children’s classics, full of nonsense rhymes, wacky creatures, and his special brand of wisdom.
Judging by the number of books Dr. Seuss has sold—at least 200 million copies—he is one of the most popular writers in history. As he did in “The Sneetches,” Dr. Seuss often used his zany characters to look at serious issues as if “through the wrong end of a telescope.”
Dr. Seuss explained how he decided on his pen name:
“The ‘Dr. Seuss’ name is a combination of my middle name and the fact that I had been studying for my doctorate when I decided to quit to become a cartoonist. My father had always wanted to see a Dr. in front of my name, so I attached it. I figured by doing that, I saved him about ten thousand dollars.”