Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler
By Kate Klimo
Illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher
Random House Books
Out January 26, 2016
There are plenty of picture book biographies out there. And plenty that fall in the chapter zone (of which the bobblehead books hold a big share). But you know what’s rare? The early reader bio. In Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler, that’s exactly what we have – a book for newly independent readers to learn more about the most well-known creator in children’s literature.
It is a beautiful day
in La Jolla, California.
A writer and artist
is at work in his studio.
As the book begins, we see The Seuss Man receive a call telling him he’s won the Pulitzer Prize. From that professional high, it’s time to go back to the beginning. At every step, Geisel was armed with a pen. We follow Ted as a kid (where he grew up down the street from a zoo – that explains some things), through his days as a Dartmouth College cartoonist, his post-college years as an ad man, to his career as a children’s bookmaker, ending with the final book he published during his life, Oh the Places You’ll Go.
The text is simple and straightforward. It’s an early reader through and through. The line between simplification and oversimplification can be tricky, but the author does well to highlight the major points of Geisel’s life and work. But being nonfiction, the lack of any sort of back matter is noticeable.
Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher did something unique with the illustrations – they incorporated Seuss artwork into their paintings. So when we see Geisel hard at work at his drawing table, the images pinned to the wall behind him are actual Seuss sketches. While the mix of the soft paintings with the more sharp images of Seuss’s work is not always seamless, the juxtaposition does draw the eye, and add a layer of authenticity to the work.
This is an overall a winning effort. A bio that will be helpful to have on hand – especially for Seuss’s birthday in early March.
Review copy from the publisher.