The Cat in the Hat Turns a Nifty Fifty
A long time ago, lived a man who was Ted,
His books were as silly as a polka-dot moose
The children all thought that his books were quite nifty,
There’s plenty of parties, for both Ted and his Cat
Fifty years ago when Theodor Geisel, or Dr. Seuss as you probably know him, teamed up with Random House to publish The Cat in the Hat they didn’t expect the book to be still popular today. Children’s books rarely become collectible. The lifespan of a children’s book is usually closer to five years rather than 50, however today The Cat in the Hat is hotter than ever.
His books were more fun, not boring and thick.
The Cat in the Hat was considered revolutionary at its time of writing because it was one of the first children’s books to break the dull Dick-and-Jane-style of beginner readers. The Cat in the Hat taught kids that reading could actually be fun. Today literary critics have described the book as an incredible feat of skill owing to the fact that the total story (1626 words) includes only 236 unique words, all pre-selected by the publisher for their ease of reading by youngsters. Of these words 54 occur exactly once and 33 occur twice. All the while the story maintains the strict triple meter rhyme scheme common to many Seuss stories. All of this took Geisel nine months to complete.
How would you know their value when old,
According to Helen Younger of Aleph-Bet Books in New York, specialists in rare and collectible children’s and illustrated books since 1977, The Cat in the Hat is “right up there” as one of the most sought after children’s titles of all time. “I've seen a fine first edition in dust wrapper, signed with a drawing by Seuss, sell for $12,500.” If you wanted to pick up a first edition right now they run all the way up to $17,000.
It’s hard to tell if Ted’s books are a first,
“It can be quite difficult to determine first editions of Dr. Seuss books. Over the course of our careers we have seen many books described as first editions that weren't firsts at all.” To solve this problem Aleph-Bet published a book in 2002 entitled First Editions of Dr. Seuss Books: A Guide to Identification. The book is fully illustrated in color and limited to 1000 copies.
What can I do if I don’t have The Cat,
The Cat in the Hat is not the only sought after title by Dr. Seuss. "All of the books are collectible,” says Younger. While The Cat in the Hat is considered Seuss’ breakthrough work it was by no means his first, and definitely not the only collectable title. His first book And to Think that I saw it on Mulberry Street (1937) as well as other notables Horton Hears a Who (1954), If I Ran the Zoo (1956), and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957), were all among books published before The Cat in The Hat and all come with hefty price tags. Right now on AbeBooks you can find copies of Mulberry Street for up to $15,000 or rare first editions of The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938) for $9,350. For books that came after The Cat in the Hat, Dr.Seuss’ best selling title of all time is Green Eggs and Ham (1960), which comes in at $4,950 for a first edition.
Did Seuss only write books that were for kids?
Theodor Geisel wrote under his own name, as well as the pseudonyms Dr. Seuss and Theo LeSieg (Geisel spelled backwards). Not all of his works were intended for children. Geisel penned many books with more adult oriented topics including his satire of the inefficiency of clinics and retirement homes, You're Only Old Once as well as The Seven Lady Godivas and Oh The Places You'll Go! He was also heavily involved with creating political cartoons during WWII and actually joined the army in 1943 as commander of the Animation Dept. of the First Motion Picture Unit. His wartime cartoons can be seen in the 2001 compilation book Dr. Seuss Goes to War.
If you don’t like my rhymes please don’t cuss or be sour
Very Collectible Seuss
Clues on Seuss
Helen and Marc Younger, and Dan Hirsch have written the definitive guide to navigating the tricky, slippery slope of first edition Dr. Seuss books.