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Dr. Seuss Goes to War: 07/07/06

Dr. Seuss at War

I grew up reading a lot of Dr. Seuss. A favorite of mine was (still is) One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Between my brother and me, we had most of his children's books. Now that Sean is nearly four, he is discovering the joys of reading Dr. Seuss (and has reciting favorite lines from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

Although Seuss had published a pair of children's books in the 1930s his career as an author was decades away. During WWII, he worked for PM as a politcal cartoonist. Dr. Seuss Goes to War chronicles these years and provides some interesting analysis of his work.

Here is my BookCrossing review:

Dr. Seuss at War is a comprehensive history of Dr. Seuss's wartime career as a political cartoonist for PM magazine. Each section of cartoons starts with a brief history and an in depth analysis of Seuss's symbolism. The bulk of the book is made up of his cartoons (though not all of them are included).

His work at PM clearly inspired future books and animated cartoons (and these are discussed in the final chapter of the book) like Yertle the Turtle and Horton Hears a Who. Proto Yertles can be seen in a number of cartoons dealing with Hitler in Europe. Horton shows up in a few cartoons depicting the war effort in India.

I also noticed a few other potential future characters that aren't mentioned in the final chapter. Seuss often depicted Germany as a daschund and that dog looks like a sibbling of Max (the dog from the Grinch stories). As Hitler rides on the daschund and the Grinch rides on Max, I'm now seeing a similarity between the Grinch and Hitler. Unlike Hitler, though, the Grinch is redeamed at the end of the story.

The final character I see developing over the course of the cartoons is the Cat in the Hat. Here though it is mostly an evolution of style and not so much a birth of a character. He uses cats to show the infighting among the various allies and politicians and these cats over time look more and more like the cat from the Cat in the Hat (minus the hat). Put an Uncle Sam hat on him though, and there he is.

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