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Top 10 Dr. Seuss facts you may not know

I found this on the Mental Floss blog today, I knew a few of these facts from when I was researching the Cat and the Hat 50th anniversary but after reading this I really wish there was a Dr. Seuss omnibus, it actually suprises me there isn’t.

The Lorax1. In case you haven’t read “The Lorax,” it’s widely recognized as Dr. Seuss’ take on environmentalism and how humans are destroying nature. Loggers were so upset about the book that some groups within the industry sponsored “The Truax,” a similar book — but from the logging point of view.

Another interesting fact: the book used to contain the line, “I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie,” but 14 years after the book was published, the Ohio Sea Grant Program wrote to Seuss creator Theodore Geisel, and told him how much the conditions had improved and implored him to take the line out. Geisel agreed and said that it wouldn’t be in future editions.

2. Somehow, Geisel’s books find themselves in the middle of controversy. The line “A person’s a person, no matter how small,” from “Horton Hears a Who!,” has been used as a slogan for anti-abortion organizations. It’s often questioned whether that was Seuss’ intent in the first place, but when he was still alive, he threatened to sue an anti-abortion group unless they removed his words from their letterhead.

3. “If I Ran the Zoo,” published in 1950, is the first recorded instance of the word “nerd.”

4. “The Cat in the Hat” was written because Dr. Seuss thought the famous Dick and Jane primers were insanely boring. Because kids weren’t interested in the material, they weren’t exactly compelled to use it repeatedly in their efforts to learn to read. So, “The Cat in the Hat” was born.

Green Eggs and Ham5. Bennett Cerf, Dr. Seuss’ editor, bet him that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less. “The Cat in the Hat” was pretty simple, after all, and it used 225 words. Not one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Geisel started writing and came up with “Green Eggs and Ham” — which uses exactly 50 words.

The 50 words, by the way, are: a, am, and, anywhere, are, be, boat, box, car, could, dark, do, eat, eggs, fox, goat, good, green, ham, here, house, I, if, in, let, like, may, me, mouse, not, on, or, rain, Sam, say, see, so, thank, that, the, them, there, they, train, tree, try, will, with, would, you.

6. It’s often alleged that “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!” was written specifically about Richard Nixon, but the book came out only two months after the whole Watergate scandal. It’s unlikely that the book could have been conceived of, written, edited and mass produced in such a short time.

Also, Seuss never admitted that the story was originally about Nixon. That’s not to say he didn’t understand how well the two flowed together. In 1974, he sent a copy of Marvin K. Mooney to his friend Art Buchwald at the Washington Post. In it, he crossed out “Marvin K. Mooney” and replaced it with “Richard M. Nixon,” which Buchwald reprinted in its entirety.

Yertle the Turtle7. “Yertle the Turtle” = Hitler? Yep. If you haven’t read the story, here’s a little overview: Yertle is the king of the pond, but he wants more. He demands that other turtles stack themselves up so he can sit on top of them to survey the land. Mack, the turtle at the bottom, is exhausted. He asks Yertle for a rest; Yertle ignores him and demands more turtles for a better view.

Eventually, Yertle notices the moon and is furious that anything dare be higher than himself, and is about ready to call for more turtles when Mack burps. This sudden movement topples the whole stack, sends Yertle flying into the mud, and frees the rest of the turtles from their stacking duty.

Dr. Seuss actually said Yertle was a representation of Hitler. Despite the political nature of the book, none of that was disputed at Random House — what was disputed was Mack’s burp. No one had ever let a burp loose in a children’s book before, so it was a little dicey. In the end, obviously, Mack burped.

Butter Battle Book8. “The Butter Battle Book” is one I had never heard of, perhaps with good reason: it was pulled from the shelves of libraries for a while because of the reference to the Cold War and the arms race.

Yooks and Zooks are societies who do everything differently. The Yooks eat their bread with the butter-side up and the Zooks eat their bread with the butter-side down. Obviously, one of them must be wrong, so they start building weapons to outdo each other: the “Tough-Tufted Prickly Snick-Berry Switch,” the “Triple-Sling Jigger,” the “Jigger-Rock Snatchem,” the “Kick-A-Poo Kid”, the “Eight-Nozzled Elephant-Toted Boom Blitz,” the “Utterly Sputter” and the “Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo.”

The book concludes with each side ready to drop their ultimate bombs on each other, but the reader doesn’t know how it actually turns out.

9. “Oh The Places You’ll Go” is the final Seuss book published before he passed away. Published in 1990, it sells about 300,000 copies every year because so many people give it to college and high school grads.

10. No Dr. Seuss post would be complete without a mention of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” Frankenstein’s Monster himself, Boris Karloff, provided the voice of the Grinch and the narration for the movie. Seuss was a little wary of casting him because he thought his voice would be too scary for kids. If you’re wondering why they sound a bit different, it’s because the sound people went back to the Grinch’s parts and removed all of the high tones in Karloff’s voice. That’s why the Grinch sounds so gravelly.

Tony the Tiger, AKA Thurl Ravenscroft, is the voice behind “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” He received no credit on screen, so Dr. Seuss wrote to columnists in every major U.S. newspaper to tell them exactly who had sung the song

Posted by on January 27, 2009.

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Categories: AbeBooks, author, books, humor, lists, literature

64 Responses

  1. Thanks for the interesting facts!!

    by Debbie on Jan 27, 2009 at 4:30 pm

  2. This really helped with my report. I never knew that yertle the turtle represented Hitler :P
    Well thanks for the Facts!

    by Nick on May 21, 2009 at 10:40 am

  3. Thanks so much for the facts I am doing a report and I never knew that Yertle repersented Hitler! Also I went to so many other sights and NONE were as good as this one… :)

    by Stinky Girl on Oct 30, 2009 at 7:51 am

  4. hahaha thankss dude.

    by jess on Nov 11, 2009 at 7:01 am

  5. Those facts are awesome thank a lot it helped me do my project/ REPORT

    by MYKAH on Dec 10, 2009 at 7:03 pm

  6. thanks for the facts.there awsome

    by samm on Dec 15, 2009 at 2:36 pm

  7. thanks for the facts i needed them

    by wolfgirl10 on Feb 23, 2010 at 5:13 pm

  8. Hey I love Dr. Seuss he has some of the best books ever known

    by Elizabeth on Mar 2, 2010 at 5:45 pm

  9. Omg. Thankyou. I loved dr. Suess as a kid but i never knew he was so political. I like the whole symbolism and hidden meaning thing now. So yo find out my childhood fav was also teaching kiss and helping to make political history relevant and interesting for kiss is great! I never knew he was so opinionated. That makes me happy. :)

    by Tyu on Jul 24, 2010 at 2:03 am

  10. i rreally love Dr.Suess

    by LeAnna on Feb 1, 2011 at 5:26 pm

  11. i love him

    by alexis on Feb 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm

  12. Thanks for these facts. We live near Lake Erie and I didn’t know that about the Lorax!

    http://www.happybirthdayauthor.com/2011/02/happy-birthday-dr-seuss-march-2.html

    by Eric on Mar 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

  13. It is his b-day I love him

    by Sky on Mar 2, 2011 at 12:20 pm

  14. thanks for the facts!!!!!:)

    by jaslin on Apr 19, 2011 at 9:31 am

  15. Had to help bro with 11 facts. This was a big help especially since suprisingly there werent enough good facts to create a report with but this was a good help. Thanks!!!

    by Lauren on Apr 27, 2011 at 11:53 am

  16. You are welcome, Lauren.

    by Richard Davies on Apr 28, 2011 at 10:25 am

  17. I am a big fan of dr suess and he was one of my childhood friends

    by Ryan Ables on May 3, 2011 at 9:06 am

  18. hey dude i luv Dr.Seuss

    by Kayla on May 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm

  19. i love theodore

    by Gerard Mcgann on May 17, 2011 at 9:24 am

  20. OMG Theordaore was amazing!! it helped me finish my report!
    thx

    by Carol on Sep 14, 2011 at 8:51 am

  21. this helped alot for school THNX

    by hi on Feb 15, 2012 at 7:40 am

  22. COOL BOOKS I SEE I LIKE TO LOOK AT SOME OF THEM.

    by DARIUS TOOME on Feb 28, 2012 at 9:42 am

  23. THE BOOK I LIKE IS CAT IN THE HAT

    by DARIUS TOOME on Feb 28, 2012 at 9:46 am

  24. HIS BOOKS IS FUN TO LOOK AT LIKE GREEN EGGS AND HAM..

    by DARIUS TOOME on Feb 28, 2012 at 9:49 am

  25. GOOD BOOK

    by DARIUS TOOME on Feb 28, 2012 at 9:50 am

  26. i love that most of the book that he wrote are made into movies I CAN’T WAIT UNTILL THE LORAX comes out into theaters you should all go and see the movie its very funny!!!!

    by AMANDA ONESTI on Feb 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

  27. I LLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEEE THESE BOOKS THAT HE WROTE

    by KATIE ONESTI on Feb 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm

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