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Friday, May 6, 2016

Kids celebrate Dr. Seuss' 105th birthday

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Andrew Thede enjoys playing with the "Fox in Socks" character during a birthday party for Dr. Seuss at the Putnam County Library Monday. The Parks and Recreation Department put on the event in honor of Dr. Seuss' 105th birthday. [Order this photo]
Excitement was in the air at the Putnam County Public Library as kids lined up to join the fun celebrating Dr. Seuss' 105th birthday. The program put on by the Parks and Recreation Department Monday included games, reading, arts and crafts and snacks.

Tables were filled with kids making Cat in the Hat hats and door hangers. They played word search, match games, created their own stories and made creatures at the different stations set up around the room. There was even a guess how many fish in the "One Fish, Two Fish" cracker bowl.

DePauw students from the College Mentors for Kids program were there in full force helping kids with projects. Also providing guidance to kids were DePauw students Betty Cao and Shreeya Neupane, who work with the Parks and Recreation Department.

In the story corner, Andrew Thede was playing with the fox from the "Fox in Socks" book.

"Hey, do you know who this is?" he asked with a big smile. "It's the Fox in the Socks. He's my best friend."

All across the room you could hear kids laughing and pointing at books and characters.

"Hey, I love Dr. Seuss. I've read this 20 times," one child said.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer and cartoonist, widely known for the children's books written under his pen name, Dr. Seuss.

He was born in Springfield, Mass. on March 2, 1904 to Henrietta Seuss and Theodor Robert Geisel.

He attended Springfield Central High School and entered Dartmouth College in fall of 1921. At the college he joined the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, eventually becoming editor-in-chief.

While there, he was caught throwing a drinking party, violating national Prohibition laws of the time. As a result, the school insisted that he resign from all extracurricular activities. In order to continue his work on the Jack-O-Lantern without the administration's knowledge, Geisel began signing his work with the pen name "Seuss."

His first work signed as "Dr. Seuss" appeared after he graduated, six months into his work for humor magazine The Judge, where his weekly feature "Birdsies and Beasties" appeared.

Overall, he published over 60 children's books, which were characterized by imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of trisyllabic meter.

DePauw College Mentors for Kids Will Catton and Molly McGonigal helped Gabe Adams with his Dr. Seuss "Cat in the Hat" project during a birthday celebration for the famous children's author.
Seuss populated his odd and fanciful kid books with a hybrid group of Wockets, Whos, Grinches, bunches of Hunches, Bar-ba-loots, red fish, blue fish and a fox in socks.

An important development occurred in 1954 that influenced much of Geisel's later work. Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among school children, which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring.

Geisel's publisher made up a list of 348 words he felt were important and asked Geisel to cut the list to 250 words and write a book using only those words.

Nine months later, Geisel, using 236 of the words given to him, completed The Cat in the Hat. It was a story about two children who find themselves home alone with a roguish, hat-wearing feline full of bad behavior.

This book used the drawing style, verse rhythms and all the imaginative power of Geisel's earlier works, but because of its simplified vocabulary could be read by beginning readers.

"Green Eggs and Ham" was written with a vocabulary of just fifty words and told the story of a Seuss creature's crusade to introduce a hapless furry character to a revolting dish.

Numerous adaptations of his work have been created, including 11 television specials, three feature films, and a Broadway musical and, of course, the famous film, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Geisel also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns and as a political cartoonist for PM, a New York City newspaper. During World War II, he worked in an animation department of the U.S Army, where he wrote "Design for Death," a film that later won the 1947 Academy Award for documentary feature.

He died on Sept. 24, 1991.

For information on any Parks and Recreation Department call 765-653-3395 or email Cathy Stiles at cstiles@cityofgreencastle.com

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