Author Spotlight: Dr. Seuss

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What was your favorite Dr. Seuss growing up? Go on, I’ll wait.

My sisters loved to torture me with Fox in Socks. I personally loved Hop on Pop. Other people identified with Horton Hears a Who or Cat in Hat. And off course the seasonal favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which has permanently embedded into our society the concept of anyone hating Christmas is a Grinch. And most people accused don’t care because the Grinch was awesome in his wallowing in his grinch-ness; they can only aspire to his commitment to the grump.

Answering a bet to write a children’s book with fifty or fewer different words, Green Eggs and Ham was born. From there Dr. Seuss made reading accessible as the boring Dick and Jane stories never could; the rhyme and meter and cartoonish art delighted children in book after book.

But did you know he had two books written in straight prose? One is high fantasy, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, and the other is horror Рit certainly meets most of the horror tropes and ticks РBartholomew and the Oobleck.

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss

Memorable first lines in books – we writers always try to hone the hook. Here is one:

In the beginning, Bartholomew Cubbins didn’t have five hundred hats.

Going Christmas shopping for nieces and nephews I ran across a high fantasy story I read again and again growing up. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss. Still a fine story; I hope nephew number five likes it.

Written in prose instead of his normal poem scheme, the fantasy by Dr. Seuss has a beautiful pace and flow. Enemies and friends – from the executioner to the spoiled Grand Duke – distract Bartholomew from his ongoing issue of the hat which would not come off. The 1940 story still holds up perfectly for today’s world.

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Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss

A revisit to Bartholomew Cubbins who previously appeared in The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins finds him the King’s page and the Grand Duke missing. Again the prose form rules this darker fantasy (sequel?) written 9 years after the original story instead of the normal Seussian poetry; I vastly prefer the clever and surreal 500 Hats of the two books.

The king wants to establish his power and uniqueness and calls his magicians to make Oobleck fall from the sky. Bartholomew attempts to be the voice of reason to the hubris-plagued king, but the king wasn’t having it. When the first drops of green fall, the royal page feels nothing but fear.

Want to know where the generation of urban fantasy – horror fans came from? I bet many of them had this book in their homes growing up. Where 500 Hats is fantasy, Oobleck is a horror – child version.

Still a solid book after all this time.