Dr Seuss and One Hundred Years of Solitude

I was asked yesterday about my favourite writers. Very hard to narrow this down to one or two – in a way favourite books might be easier to answer. So instead of giving an answer of say four writers (which would make me think how could I have left out so and so) I said Barbara Kingsolver as her book The Poisonwood Bible is one of my all time favourites.

I left out Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude as that almost goes without saying – it is impossible for me to think of a more perfect book. And when you stop to think that the version many of us have read is a translation, it is even more incredible. I spoke to someone once who had read it in Spanish and he described it as musical. Which is exactly what it in in English. I reckon it would almost be worth learning Spanish to read it as he wrote it (not to mention that it would enable you to speak to millions of people scattered over our planet!)

As a favourite writer for children I had little hesitation in naming Dr. Seuss.  My children learnt to read with Dr. Seuss and laughed their way through the process. When I started reading up about his writing it made sense. It is in the da da dum, da da dum, da da dum, da da dum rhythm of it. Its proper name being Anapestic Tetrameter. Whatever its proper name is it has a very natural rhythm to it, it is easy on the ear but not easy to write. 

Cat in the Hat came about in the following way (thanks Wikipedia!)

In May 1954, Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among school children, which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. Accordingly, William Ellsworth Spaulding, the director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin who later became its Chairman, compiled a list of 348 words he felt were important for first-graders to recognize and asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and write a book using only those words.[22] Spaulding challenged Geisel to “bring back a book children can’t put down.” [23] Nine months later, Geisel, using 236 of the words given to him, completed The Cat in the Hat.

Some achievement. Even today I read his books and they bring a smile to my face. What a gifted man – to have his way with words and an ability to draw like that, perfect.

‘Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!’ 

Oh, the THINKS you can THINK!

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