Those of you who are eagerly anticipating the soon-to-be-published (posthumously) Dr. Seuss book “What Pet Should I Get?” (Penguin Random House, 2015) will likely recognize my futile attempts to come up with a clever title “in the spirit of Dr. Seuss” for this, my first Butler’s Pantry blog entry since becoming curator of the Butler Children’s Literature Center this month. I’m not alone in my plight; children’s book creators ever since the publication of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (Vanguard, 1937) have been trying to capture Dr. Seuss’s unique blend of silliness and aptness. Anyone familiar with the children’s canon recognizes the creators who’ve successfully done it (Mo Willems! among a very few others) and those who struggle with it (we all know who they are; I’m not going to skewer anyone here). But I’d never actually tried to do it myself. It’s surprisingly hard to come with Seussian verse that isn’t clunky or awkward!
Last week I was pleased and a little nervous, when the Chicago Tribune reached out for comment on this upcoming new work from a perennial favorite author and illustrator. Pleased, because it’s always nice to be asked one’s opinion (and what’s more fun than talking about children’s literature, anyway?); nervous because, well, I haven’t actually seen the book. Turns out there is a strict laydown date of July 28, as is commonly done for books with built-in instant demand, such as every Harry Potter after the second one. It’s a bit of a reality check for those of us in the business of writing and talking about books; turns out in some cases, our opinions are pretty much irrelevant. Dr. Seuss is one of those whose names, and styles, resonate immediately with kids. It doesn’t really matter what we adults think (come on, who among you REALLY enjoys reading Fox in Socks out loud?).
So, what are your thoughts as P-Day (“Pet” Day, 7/28/15) approaches? Do you have concerns about posthumous publishing, especially in light of the current Harper Lee controversy (and she’s still with us!)? Will the kids and families you serve be lining up at your door to get their hands on “Pet?”
Read the article here (you’ll be asked to register, but it’s free at least):