Dr Seuss: The cat behind the hat

Theodore Giesel is probably not a name many of us will recognise. Dr Seuss on the other hand….

Dr Seuss, or Theodore Giesel, to give him his proper name will be a familiar name to many readers. His books The cat in the hat and Horton hears a who have been read by millions.

The cat behind the hat: the art of Dr Seuss is a gorgeously illustrated book which discusses Giesel’s, or Seuss’s, work from his humble beginnings as an editorial illustrator in the 1920s to his much celebrated children’s books illustrations.

For those of us who only know Seuss from the aforementioned The cat in the hat or Horton, this is a fascinating look at how he began his illustration career and where he got the inspiration for his unique and often bizarre-looking characters.

It examines in-depth his career development over 70 years including his work on the war effort, his political cartoons and of course, the images which have delighted so many children. The book looks at little-seen private works which help shine a light on his creative genius.

Giesel was a private poetic soul but his illustrations crackle and fizz with an energy and sense of fun which demands to be seen and enjoyed. His art has been described as being somewhere between the Surrealists of the early twentieth century and that of a child’s doodles.

Many of his characters are based on familiar animals such as cats, fish and birds. These appear to the eye as familiar recognisable creatures but closer inspection reveals the peculiarities that make then Dr Seuss’s own and which cause the images to linger in the mind long after we’ve closed the book.

This book wonderfully demonstrates that Seuss should never be dismissed merely as someone who drew strange animals for children but that he had a truly unique artistic gift, which he applied to drawings, oil paintings and sculptures.

Seuss once stated “If you don’t get imagination as a child you probably never will”.

We are fortunate that his imagination was so unashamedly wild and free and that we’ve all been able to share in it.

Further details of The cat behind the hat: the art of Dr Seuss can be found on the main catalogue (available in ‘Catalogues’ on the library website)