What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss is practically fresh off the presses, published for the first time ever, approximately 55 years after its creation. How wonderful is it to publish a new book by a timeless author who, though long dead, will never be forgotten? So how does something like this happen?
What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss was unexpectedly unearthed by Theodore Seuss Geisel’s widow in October 2013. Audrey Stone Diamond Geisel, who was born in 1921, was going through some of her husband’s things and found a box. Even though it must have been there all along, Audrey Geisel had never seen that old box, full of drawings, dating from roughly 1960. Strangely, the box surfaced for the first time in 50 years only two years ago. Shocked and delighted as it slowly dawned on Mrs. Geisel what she had found, she rushed to call Cathy Goldsmith, long-time art director for Random House.
Finding What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore (Ted) Geisel) was the equivalent of an archeological Holy Grail, except that no one ever even dreamed this book existed. It is an amazing gift to the world thatjust popped into our library of classic Dr. Seuss books. The find, as reported in Entertainment Weekly, was confirmed by Goldsmith, who had worked with Audrey’s beloved Ted on many projects over the years.
Cathy Goldsmith immediately recognized the work as authentically Seuss and was able to give it an approximate date, 1958 to 1962, around the same time as One Fish, Two Fish, and it features the same two human characters as One Fish, Two Fish as well. Why it was held back by Theodore Geisel is completely unknown. What is known is that it was a finished or nearly finished book and ready for publication. Why was it stored in a box for over 50 years, and how is it possible no one ever knew it existed?
Possibly, What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss was lost due to the author’s trauma, stress, and grief. According to About Relationships, Ted Geisel’s first wife, Helen Marion Palmer Geisel, was diagnosed with cancer in 1954 and suffered a long and painful illness until 1967 when she took her own life, unable to deal with the pain and partial paralysis any longer. Is it possible that Dr. Seuss just forgot about the little book in the wake of his own duress and grief?
The work obviously going into producing a book like this is far more than writers and illustrators go through today. Each drawing was produced by hand, in black and white, after which each spot of color was labeled with a specific numerically coded color. Great pains were taken in the recent publication of “What Pet Should I Get” in order to match those colors exactly as Dr. Seuss wanted them to appear. It was a challenge, since that type of processed color has not been used in book publishing in decades. Still, all the colors were lovingly rendered by his admirers from this century.
What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss is of a very similar type and style of his other books of that era. It definitely belongs to the same family as One Fish, Two Fish, Go Dog Go, and Cat in the Hat. Finding another classic Seuss is a wonderful gift to us all. Why it was originally withheld remains a mystery, but we are fortunate to have it available now.
What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss is now available on Amazon, so treat yourself to a copy in honor of Ted’s birthday.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]