Theodor Seuss Geisel, creator of Horton the Elephant, the Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, and a madcap menagerie of the best-loved children’s characters of all time, stands alone as the preeminent figure of children’s literature. But Geisel was a private man who was happier at the drawing table than he was across from any reporter or would-be biographer. Under the thoughtful scrutiny of Charles D. Cohen, Geisel’s lesser known works yield valuable insights into the imaginative and creative processes of one of the 20th century’s most original thinkers.
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