Like many of his devilish but good-natured creatures, Dr. Seuss could be a trickster. While writing Hop on Pop, Seuss got the feeling his editor, Bennett Cerf, and Random House weren’t paying much attention to his work. Seuss was a notorious perfectionist, and he believed he’d unintentionally lulled his publishing house into a “half-false sense of security” with his yearly output. So, he added the following lines to Hop on Pop:
When I read I am smart
I always cut whole words apart.
Con Stan Tin O Ple, Tim Buk Too
Con Tra Cep Tive, Kan Ga Roo.
Cerf sprung Seuss’s sly word-trap deftly, and edited all references to contraceptives out of the final product. For some reason, all references to kangaroos got the editorial axe too. Those poor bouncy roos. (Source, p. 149.)
There are a lot of books for children out there—like a lot a lot. To help parents and teachers out, the National Education Association surveyed a bunch of parents and teachers to see what children books they recommended as the best, the awesomest, the tip-toppiest of them all. In 2007, they used that information to compile a list of the top 100 children’s books, and our man, Dr. Seuss, rocked it with ten of the one hundred spots going to his books. In other words, 10% of the books children must read before they grow up belong to the good doctor. In case you’re curious, those books and their placement on the list are:
Yeah, he’s that good. (Source.)
You probably noticed Hop on Pop and a host of other Dr. Seuss books labeled Beginner Books while others are not. So what 's the difference? The Beginner Books label was created by Dr. Seuss, Phyllis Cerf, and Seuss’s first wife, Helen Palmer Geisel. To separate their brand and ensure “the simplest Seuss for youngest use,” Phyllis came up with a list of 379 words. Any author writing under the label could pick 200 of those words plus 20 simple “emergency” words. With those slim and simple pickings, they had to write a child’s book. The label launched in 1958 with four books, including The Cat in the Hat. Others soon followed written by Seuss but also other famous children authors such as P.D. Eastman, Stan and Jan Berenstain, and Al Perkins. (Source.)
Parents brag about their children’s accomplishments. It’s a fact of life, and unless you want people to think you’re a grade-A jerk, you’re just going to have to sit there and take it. Or will you? Dr. Seuss had no biological children, so when people bragged about their kiddos, he’d throw the accomplishments of one Chrysanthemum-Pearl right back in their faces. Who’s Chrysanthemum-Pearl? The daughter Dr. Seuss made up, of course. It makes for a heck of a game of one-upmanship when your real kid is pitted against an imaginary one. To make the fantasy even more elaborate, Seuss dedicated The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins to the girl and mentioned her often in Christmas cards. (Source.)
And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street was Dr. Seuss first children’s book, but it was hardly the man’s first foray into publishing. In fact, Dr. Seuss failed spectacularly at writing for adults before finding his calling in children’s literature. His adult books include titles likes of The Pocket Book of Boners (1931), which is not about what you think it's about. The Seven Lady Godivas (1939) featured a cast of seven women all of who trek around the book naked just like the original. The lack of love for these adult endeavors meant Seuss wouldn’t write another book for tall folk until You’re Only Old Once! in 1987. (Source.)