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Video:Dr. Seuss Author Profile

with Anita Silvey

Before he became known for cats in hats, Dr. Seuss was once a struggling author eager to sell his first picture book. Learn about Dr. Seuss and his path to success.See Transcript

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Transcript:Dr. Seuss Author Profile

I'm Anita Silvey, author of "Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Children's Book," ad the "Children's Book a Day Almanac Online" - and, I'm here for About.com. Let's talk about the work and life of Dr. Seuss.

"You have brains in your head and you have feet in your shoes, and you can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own and you know what you know, and you're the guy who'll decide where to go."

The Early Life of Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss still holds the record, certainly in the United States for the bestselling children's author of all time. J.K. Rowling has not unseated him yet. The career didn't necessarily seem destined to be a happy one. Seuss did grow up in Springfield, Massachusetts, and his father did run a zoo. We think that had something to do with the sensibility that he had. He went to Dartmouth and was in fact voted the least likely to succeed in the class at Dartmouth. I mean, he was always a cut up. He was always a screwball. And, at one point, he was working on the college humor magazine. They shut it down they censored him. And, so, he had to choose a nom de plume to publish under. And, that's when he went back to his mother's name which was Seuss. And so he became Seuss and then added Dr. to it, a little later to give himself a little more stature.

Dr. Seuss Publishes His First Picture Book

He was working in New York City and he had a manuscript of a book that he was desperately shopping around. And it is, we know that Dr. Seuss is the most rejected classic picture book writer of all time.

Now, books of the 1930s are much more serious in tone and they're not in rhyme. He's completely against publishing wisdom. According to him he was on his way to burn the manuscript for this book. He'd had one more rejection. It was over. He was going to go do something else. And, he ran into a Dartmouth classmate. And the guy said, you won't believe this, but they've just made me children's book editor at Vanguard and I'm going to publish your book.

Dr. Seuss Books and Messages

And, it was an immediate success. The kids loved it instantly. This is Doctor Seuss's only bad moment by the way in the entire stretch. And, with writing books that always have – there's always with a Dr. Seuss book, a very strong message underneath it.

"So, whether your name be Buxbaum or Bixbee or Mordikai, Ali, Van Allen O'Shea, you're off to great places so today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so, get on your way!"

But, you know, it was only in, when I was an adult that I realized really the profound message of this book is really that, you know, even if your mother isn't paying attention to you or loving you, somebody will.

"Did he run? He did not. Horten stayed on that nest. He held his ead high and he threw out his chest, and he looked at the hunters as much as to say, shoot if you must. But, I won't run away. I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant's faithful one hundred percent."

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