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The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel Hardcover – February 24, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was one of the titans of 20th century American children's literature--a legacy that shows no sign of diminishing in the 21st. But such epochal fare as The Cat in the Hat and enduring, whimsical characters as Horton, The Grinch and Sam-I-Am represent but one corner of the late writer/artist's vast artistic universe. Other Geisel biographies have detailed his remarkable life and vibrant art, but Massachusetts dentist/Seussiana collector nonpareil Charles D. Cohen serves up a "visual biography" that's part lovingly illustrated coffee table book and part insightful analysis of a creative mind and the various historical and cultural forces that shaped it. Cohen richly illustrates his compelling tribute with key, telling artifacts from his own massive collection. No corner of the author/artist's life has escaped Cohen's obsessive collector's eye, including: turn-of the-century bottles of the Geisel family brewery, Geisel's teenage writings and illustrations, later work that spans careers in cartooning advertising (successful campaigns for Esso, Flit and others), wartime propaganda (including uncredited work on the Oscar-winning Hitler Lives!) and Hollywood (The 5000 Finger of Dr. T). Indeed, in Cohen's thoughtful, lavishly illustrated analysis, Geisel's latter-day incarnation as children's author supreme was but the logical distillation of a lifetime devoted to wit, wordplay and whimsical art. --Jerry McCulley

From Booklist

Although Cohen covers some of the same territory Philip Nel traversed in Dr. Seuss: An American Icon [BKL F 1 04], this abundantly illustrated profile of the creator of Horton, the Grinch, and the Cat in the Hat has a more popular readership in mind. Crisp full-color illustrations on every page of the coffee-table volume will pull readers into Cohen's accessible recap of Theodore Geisel's career, which is enhanced with just enough personal information to bring everything together. Cohen doesn't ignore Geisel's writing (there's even a selection of early Geisel from his high-school paper), but his real focus is the art. And what a selection he has gathered: clear reproductions of posters, book illustrations, newspaper cartoons, and book pages, with intriguing background information that allows readers to follow the artist's varied careers (political cartoonist, filmmaker, children's book author, and a few more, too) as well as the evolution of some of his most popular book characters. Fun for browsers and Seussophiles alike. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 1310L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (February 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375822488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375822483
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.2 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

My schooling initially took me from New York to an area outside of Philadelphia, where I was an English major at the uniquely formative Haverford College. But, as the comedian Gallagher once asked, "What are you going to do with an English major if you don't teach--open a Poem Repair?" So it was off to Boston for the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, and finally to Illinois for the orthodontic program at the University of Illinois at Chicago--get an education, see the country.

Wondering where I might want to settle, I first had to rule out Corfu, Greece, which was gorgeous but impractical for someone who could only say "good morning," "good evening," "good night," "thank you very much," and "melon" in Greek and knew nothing about the state of Grecian dentistry (or taxes--how much would be Owed on what a Grecian Earned?). So I mused over what was really important to me and decided that I wanted to live somewhere that had four distinct seasons. Taking out a map and compass (the kind with a point and a pencil), I drew a circle demarcating a two-hour radius with Hartford, CT as the center, then started looking for jobs as a dentist within that circle. I ended up settling Northampton, a liberal community that welcomed the arts in western Massachusetts.

As I established my dental career, I continued to be fascinated and distracted by random things about which that I wanted to know more. I decided that I ought to know something about bourbon, for example, so I tried every different nip of bourbon I encountered and learned as much as I could about them. After about six months, I felt like I knew enough about bourbon and heartburn and it was time to move on to my next curiosity.

Tired of always arguing about who the best baseball players were, I wanted to know who the worst baseball player of all time was. I discovered players like Bill Bergen, whose .170 average and 2 HR over 11 seasons easily enshrined him in the Hall of Infamy--an abysmal offensive career that is unlikely to ever be equaled. But as I continued my little independent study course, I also learned that Bill's brother, Marty, may have had more batting prowess (.265 and 10 HR in just 4 years of professional baseball), but he more than made up for it by axe-murdering his family and then killing himself with a razor. Naturally, I next had to know whether I could collect baseball cards of the Bergens, which led to research about the history of baseball cards. Again, after about a half a year, I'd learned what I needed to know.

I took many other six-month-sojourns into new realms of folly but, eventually, a time came when I wanted to know something about what Ted Geisel did beyond his famous Dr. Seuss books. The problem was that by the six-month mark, what I'd learned was that no one had yet written the biographies that I had assumed existed about this famous author and that what had been written most often turned out to be wrong.

The more frustrated I became by the misinformation, the deeper I delved into finding out what the truth was. I'd see a picture of a delightful color cover he did for Life magazine and the caption would say "circa 1929-1930." I'd curse aloud and wonder why, if you had the magazine in front of you to photograph it, you couldn't just tell the reader the correct date. Then I'd travel an hour and a half to the Boston Public Library and have them pull out all 104 Life magazines from 1929-1930, only to find out that none of them had that cover. So I'd put in requests for the librarians to retrieve each successive year until, several hundred magazines later, I learned that the one in question was actually from May 1934. Brighter people wouldn't care. Obsessive people like me questioned what else wasn't true.

That led to many trips back and forth to Boston, up to Dartmouth College in NH where Ted Geisel went to school, down to the Library of Congress in DC, and out to the Geisel Library on the UCSD campus in CA. At some point as I got deep enough into this research, I began to think that someone should clear up all of the misinformation that existed because the more it was retold, and the wider and quicker it was spread via the Internet, the more it became entrenched. With Ted gone and his contemporaries aging, who would be around to to keep these errors from becoming accepted as historical facts?

That led to my first book--The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss (Random House, 2004)--which came out around Ted's 100th birthday to kick off the celebration of the Seussentennial. It's a visual biography with 400+ pages and 700+ images of all manner of first hand sources, which I used to demonstrate the variety of things that Ted created in his lifetime, as well as to clear up some of the misconceptions about him and his work.

The response was very gratifying. Richard Corliss of Time magazine called it the "Best Pop Culture Book [of 2004]," adding that it was a "splendid compendium of...[Ted Geisel's] work as a college wit, a deviser of cunning ad campaigns, a political cartoonist and a writer of the most impish war propaganda. Handsomely designed, and with laffs on every page." And Publishers Weekly (11/22/2004) chose it as one of the two "Best Children's Books of 2004" in the non-fiction category, reporting that "In this hefty, assiduously researched volume, generously sprinkled with crisp reproductions of the artist's work, Cohen sets out to demystify Geisel's genius. He provides insight into the evolution of a remarkable creative mind, allowing the story to unfold largely through Dr. Seuss's own words and pictures."

Perhaps the most astonishing comment arrived in a 01/23/2004 letter from Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel's widow, Audrey Geisel, who wrote, "I am truly in a state of complete awe and amazement! No one, but no one has this incredible background on Ted that you have...not anyone in his family or anywhere else."

Of course, if there had been a great deal of scholarly work in the field of Seussiana at the time, I never would have embarked on this latest adventure as a non-fiction writer. But due to the dearth of information in the field, I found myself unexpectedly being sought out as an "expert."

That led to a host of new Seuss ventures and extended what I had intended to be a brief independent study course on Geisel. An intriguing synergy happened and I found that I had jumped into this field just as the 50th anniversaries of some of the most famous Dr. Seuss books were about to occur. In need of a special edition of How The Grinch Stole Christmas! for its anniversary in 2007, I appended the famous story with three thematically-linked but rarely seen Seuss pieces ("The Hoobub and the Grinch," "The Perfect Present," and "Prayer For A Child") and traced the main themes and characters of the book through Ted's life and work, utilizing some interesting archival images to illustrate the new information.

Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories had its 50th anniversary in 2009, so I did a similar retrospective edition, adding two more thematically-relevant "lost stories" ("The Ruckus" and "The Kindly Snather").

For 2011, I collected seven more of my favorite "lost" stories into a new anthology, The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss. For most people it was the first time in 50-60 years that they'd had the chance to read delightful stories like "The Bippolo Seed," "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga," "Gustav, the Goldfish," "Tadd and Todd," "Steak for Supper," "The Strange Shirt Spot," and "The Great Henry McBride." The response was wonderful, with the book debuting at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for children's picture books.

Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories (2014) contains four more stories that originally appeared in magazines in the 1950s. In the titular tale, the earnest elephant encounters a conniving insect that is every bit as selfish as Mayzie in Horton Hatches The Egg or the kangaroo in Horton Hears A Who! In "Marco Comes Late," the boy you remember from And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street and McElligot's Pool tells another fanciful yarn. Speaking of Mulberry Street, that's where a policeman walks his beat in "How Officer Pat Saved The Whole Town." Rounding out the book is "The Hoobub and the Grinch," which involves another grinch with a consumerist view of the world.

Meanwhile, I continue to spend thousands of hours in an ambitious and foolhardy attempt to create a database of information pertaining to all of Theodor Seuss Geisel's works. The goal of this effort has been to find, salvage, restore, and chronicle the parts of the Seuss legacy that are being lost over time, preserving them for posterity. The resulting collection has been providing firsthand access to a wealth of material and information and I've tried to share this knowledge not only through writing books, but also through museum shows, like the exhibition of 750-1,000 items that I curated for The Connecticut Valley Historical Museum (now the Pynchon House) in coordination with the unveiling of the National Seuss Memorial in Springfield, MA (Ted's birthplace). I've also loaned Seussiana to the Children's Museum of Manhattan in NY, The Bremen Museum in Atlanta, GA, the Art on 5th gallery in Austin, TX, Michelson's Galleries in Northampton, MA, and the Chase Group's traveling exhibit "The Art of Dr. Seuss."

Perhaps one of my future independent study courses will lead to the establishment of a Seuss museum in which to store and display as exhaustive a chronicle of Ted Geisel's endlessly creative mind as I can manage. I don't know anything about creating a museum, but I didn't know anything about the publishing world either when I started out...

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A.Trendl VINE VOICE on March 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
With the awful, distorted, contrived pile of wasted film, conjured up in the form of Mike Myers' take on the "Cat in the Hat," it would be nice to know why, in the beginning of it all, Dr. Seuss was ever popular at all. He was a great writer and cartoonist before his famous cat's striped hat became chic fashion among post-grunge era teenagers.

In "The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel" by Charles Cohen, we are shown the greatness of Seuss -- of Theodor Geisel, through drawings, paintings and text. We get to learn about his early days at Dartmouth, as he toyed with hybridic animals, wit and satire.

Not every idea worked. Seuss, an experimenter, evolved from being a talented but rustic styler of odd creatures into a sophisticated artist of odd, if not bizarre beasts that had genuine identity.

Before he write and drew books about green eggs, grinches, and elephants named Horton, he was an editorial cartoonist. His language in many of the cartoons was far from being politically correct, but his social commentary decrying racism was right on. He hard-handed racist thought with no evidence of his sweet children's characters kindness.

Cohen has produced an array of research. Samples of Seuss' art grace most pages. We also get a look at the vast merchandising, parodies, and unlicensed knock-offs.

This is not a children's book. Don't be fooled by the name of the publisher. It is for someone interested in reading a serious look at the history of one of America's beloved cartoonists.

I fully recommend "The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of Theodor Seuss Geisel." by Charles D. Cohen.

Anthony Trendl
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Eileen on May 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Since 2004 is the Seussentennial, or the hundredth anniversary of Dr. Seuss' birth, this is a great time to get to know more about one of America's most popular icons of children's literature. Ted Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was far more than an author and illustrator of children's books and movies. His career includes humorist, journalist, advertising genius, magazine and political cartoonist, creator of wartime training and propaganda films, president of a publishing company, and spokesman for children's education.
Author Charles Cohen, a dentist and avid collector of Seussiana, is well qualified to write this visual biography of Ted Geisel. Through lavish illustrations, many from his own collection, Cohen shows the many facets of Geisel's art and imagination. The reader is treated to Geisel's earliest works from long before his first published children's book. These include examples of his college newspaper cartoons and his many successful advertising campaigns that blended humor and salesmanship. These creations are juxtaposed with his later children's books to provide the reader a deeper understanding of how culture and history shaped the evolution of his ideas and whimsical bestiary, and to point out the same themes cropping up over and over again in his works.
Although this book provides a fascinating view into many unusual perspectives of Dr. Seuss the artist and innovator, there is little here about Ted Geisel the man. In the introduction, Cohen says that he neither met Geisel nor interviewed anyone who knew him. Instead he delved into Geisel's works to discover what made him tick. As a result, there are many facts missing about Geisel's personal life and friendships.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth G. on March 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not all about reiterating the Seuss stories we've already read, but instead an objective well researched pictoral and written account of the man so many love. Cohen does a great job researching the possible meanings of Geisel's cartoons and later texts. There are many, many Judge magazine and other political cartoons that are absolutely hilarious, and absolutely adult in nature (similar to alot of his "childrens" stories).
I highly recommend this book to anyone what likes to drop into a chapter then skip to another at an opposite end of the book because they are somewhat independent although chronological, it is easy to skip around to the parts you feel like reading for that day.
Also, at 400 pages full color, who can pass up the bargain?
f.y.i. This biography seems to coincide a lot with *In Search of Dr. Seuss* the movie that just came out in dvd
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Kwashnak VINE VOICE on May 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As we celebrate the centennial of Ted Geisel's birth, material is appearing that looks at the influence of Dr. Seuss on generations of American readers. Dr. Cohen brings us what is obviously a labor of love. Drawing inspiration on his extensive collection of Seussiana, he has produced one of the most lavishly illustrated and broadly scoped book on the life and works of the good doctor.
Cohen reaches back to Geisel's school days and illustrates the development of the artist's style and humor. Continually he will point out how pieces done at various points in Geisel's life can be traced as part of the development of what would become some of his trademark images and beloved characters, including the Grinch. Instead of focusing heavily on Seuss's books, he draws attention to the vast collection of other artwork that was drawn, mostly before the books even came into being. Seuss's work as a humorist, advertising artist, sculptor, and cartoonist (political and otherwise) are shown here as he continued to improve and hone his craft. The end results are the books that are so beloved to multitudes of people who were lucky enough to grow up with Seuss in the house.
The book would be worth it for the pictures alone, but the accompanying text helps get below the surface of many of the pieces, and to tie them together into a artist's whole output. Even if you only look at the pictures and read the captions to the pictures, you will get a whole new appreciation of Dr. Seuss's work over the years. If I any complaint, it is that in some ways the books almost get shorted too much in this narrative, and too often the captions for the illustrations are repetitive to the text. But these are minor quibbles that in no way detract from the glorious whole.
For the Seuss lover, and for the casual reader, this book brings the reader a whole new appreciation of a beloved illustrator's work and the genius that was Dr. Seuss.
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