Celebrating Seuss

The wife of the late Dr. Seuss shares her memories and a new exhibit brings his books to life.

Celebrating Seuss, pg. 1

The Bloogs, Nizzards, Sneetches, and Whos are just a few of the fanciful creatures he's made immortal. This year, in honor of his 100th birthday, the Children's Museum of Manhattan in New York City commemorates the imagination of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. The decision to create the 4,000-square-foot exhibit, titled "Oh, Seuss! Off to Great Places," was an easy one. "By appealing to the funny bone in both adults and children, Ted Geisel made family reading time one of the great pleasures of life," says executive director Andrew Ackerman. "He made learning to read both fun and natural. This exhibition is a perfect way to celebrate the genius of Dr. Seuss."

The exhibit, which will remain in New York for a year and then begin its national tour in July 2005, includes 25 activity areas that allow kids to explore the magical worlds of Seuss classics. Young visitors can build a Throm-dim-bu-lator, drive the Green Eggs and Ham train, and help Horton hatch an egg, to name just a few of the hands-on experiences. Parents will appreciate the gallery featuring photos, sketches, and manuscript pages that illustrate Dr. Seuss's creative process. (For more details about the exhibit, visit www.cmom.org).

In honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday, Child spoke to Audrey Geisel, his widow and the founder of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Here, she offers a glimpse into the creative life of the beloved children's book author:

Q: Why do you think kids are so drawn to your husband's words and illustrations?

A: Ted happened to have the kind of thought process where he could leave reality behind and go to another world. When he went into this world, he saw it visually -- in the form of animals, not really animals, but as something resembling animals. He had an enormous capacity to do that. Children, when they attempt to draw a house or an animal, create something that vaguely resembles reality, just vaguely. I think that's why they see what Ted does with his imagination as authentic, appropriate, and funny. Ted had a longstanding rule that none of his books could be used in schools as textbooks. If that happened, it would be the kiss of death. It would be studying, and his books would lose their appeal. To this very day, we don't allow any of his books to be used as textbooks. They would soon lose the fun feeling about them.

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