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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr.Seuss!

Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991), fondly known by his pen name, Dr.Seuss, continues to posthumously entertain, educate, and inspire many of us through his writing.

Best known for the numerous children's books he authored and illustrated in his inimitable style, Dr.Seuss took a special interest in battling illiteracy among school children by making his books fun, silly, and accessible, to encourage struggling young readers.

Whether it is his preferred tetrameters, be it iambics or anapests, or his made-up words, or his goofy illustrations, or the not-found-elsewhere creatures, his books draw in readers of all ages with a promise to amuse.

Dr.Seuss came into my life well past my childhood, leaving me with jaw-dropping wonder at his cleverly crafted book on environmentalism and anti-consumerism, The Lorax, which was the very first Dr.Seuss book I read.

And, since then, I've been partial to The Lorax and I had Trouble In Getting To Solla Sollew, two of the many Dr.Seuss books on our bookshelf, picking them up as often as I can to read to my children.

While a few other lighter books have since become my daughter's favorite - Dr.Seuss' ABC's, Fox in Socks, One Fish Two fish, Green Eggs and Ham, Cat in the Hat to name a few - The Lorax is one of the books she has progressively assimilated in her own way, asking many questions, expecting easy answers, worrying about the barbaloots, wondering why the Once-ler kept chopping down the Truffula trees... and for that I am grateful.

I Had Trouble In getting To Solla Sollew

While it doesn't feature the enchanting and enigmatic Cat-in-the-Hat or the pesky and persistent Sam-I-am, the book follows a curious yet easy-going creature in his attempt to flee his current problems in the Valley of Vung, hoping to find safe haven in Solla Sollew where they never have troubles; at least, very few.

The subtle message of facing one's problems and attempting to handle them suitably instead of trying to run away seeking utopia elsewhere (as it doesn't exists), is sure to be lost on the wee ones at first. But, on our many reads, the questions my daughter interrupts with, and the answers I scramble to stitch together as seamlessly as possible, has made this a very rewarding experience, especially for me.

And over time, I am sure she will manage to distill the message. But for now, the comical annoyances by the Skritz, the Skrink, and the Quilligan Quail start us off on a rollicking journey, with the brilliant poetic meter holding our full attention, while the curious-looking creatures intrigue and entertain us until we read Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me! and close the back cover with the ceremonious The End.

Of course, she is not quite satisfied as the hero of this book has no name and is not of an easily recognizable species, leaving her guessing and obsessing about categorizing him in her mind in a convenient slot, leading to completely unintended exercises we embark on every time we read the book.

And, not the least of all, How the Grinch Stole Christmas has become one of our Holiday favorites, almost a tradition, to be read only in December every year, not any other time.

I was naturally curious about how, if at all, Dr.Seuss has influenced my Saffron Tree family and here's what the wonderful fellow-contributors had to say.

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