The great thing about the book biz is that each season brings brand new releases to the shelves. We live in an almost constant state of excitement in our store as we receive some wonderful new children's book every couple of weeks if not more frequently. These new books are almost entirely from current authors and illustrators with the occasional re-issue of a classic.
This last month or so has been especially interesting however, as we have seen two brand new books from two of the legends of children's literature. First was the long anticipated "Bumble-Ardy" by Marice Sendak (which we discussed in our last post) and the second was "The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories" (Random House 2011) by none other than Dr. Seuss.
This volume collects seven short stories by Seuss that were originally published in Redbook magazine in the early 1950s and were never released in book form until now. As they were originally for magazines, these short stories have more text and fewer illustrations than the usual Seuss books, but are classic Seuss through and through. His trademark rhythm and rhyme are here in full effect and all seven stories are wonderful. Our favourites are "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga" which tells the story of a rabbit who uses his wits to outsmart a bear that is out to eat him, and "Gustav, the Goldfish" which tells the story of a boy who accidentally overfeeds his goldfish with hilarious results.
The other fascinating part of this collection is the wonderful introduction by Charles D. Cohen, a Seuss scholar who was responsible for tracking down these "lost" stories. His explanation of the history of these stories includes the themes they explore as well as what Seuss was experiencing in his career at the time is fascinating. This includes some of the events which led Seuss to become one of the most important figures in children's literature:
"These stories reflect a change in Ted's (Seuss') approach to writing for children. Before World War II, he did not consider his children's books particularly important. But after observing German and Japanese children reared on propaganda (which he called "the worst educational crime in the entire history of the world"), he began to take his work more seriously, developing a new philosophy about educating children through reading."
Ultimately, it is not only exciting to be able to experience brand new stories, but also incredibly interesting to gain insight into the mind and life of this true legend.
Now go read a book with your kids...