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  • Becoming Dr. Seuss

  • Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination
  • By: Brian Jay Jones
  • Narrated by: Mike Chamberlain
  • Length: 18 hrs
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Summary

The definitive, fascinating, all-reaching biography of Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss is a classic American icon. Whimsical and wonderful, his work has defined our childhoods and the childhoods of our own children. The silly, simple rhymes are a bottomless well of magic, his illustrations timeless favorites because, quite simply, he makes us laugh. The Grinch, the Cat in the Hat, Horton, and so many more are his troupe of beloved and uniquely Seussian creations.

Theodor Geisel, however, had a second, more radical side. It is there that the allure and fascination of his Dr. Seuss alter ego begins. He had a successful career as an advertising man and then as a political cartoonist, his personal convictions appearing, not always subtly, throughout his books - remember the environmentalist of The Lorax? Geisel was a complicated man on an important mission. He introduced generations to the wonders of reading while teaching young people about empathy and how to treat others well. 

Agonizing over word choices and rhymes, touching up drawings sometimes for years, he upheld a rigorous standard of perfection for his work. Geisel took his responsibility as a writer for children seriously, talking down to no reader, no matter how small. And with classics like Green Eggs and Ham and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, Geisel delighted them while they learned. Suddenly, reading became fun.  

Coming right off the heels of George Lucas and best-selling Jim Henson, Brian Jay Jones is quickly developing a reputation as a master biographer of the creative geniuses of our time.  

©2019 Brian Jay Jones (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Nonfiction

Becoming Dr. Seuss is more compelling than mere pop hagiography; it is sweeping in scope, unstinting in detail, and willing to criticize or contextualize when needed.” (The New Yorker

“Finally! The solution to the mystery of where Dr. Seuss earned his Ph.D.  Brian Jay Jones also reveals the true identity of Chrysanthemum Pearl; the etymology of the word 'nerd'; the political leanings of Horton and Yertle; and the relationship of Krazy Kat to the one in the hat. It comes as no surprise that Theodore Geisel was a born story-teller; prying truth from fact, Jones pins our favorite fabulist nimbly, colorfully, and splendidly to the page.” (Stacy Schiff, author of The Witches)  

“[Geisel's] epic transformation into one of the most beloved and bestselling children’s writers of all time, winner of Oscars and a Pulitzer, is a poignant, affecting tale of a man who mastered the art of concision through imagination and sheer toil yet could never bring such exactitude to his own life.... In Jones’s telling, the Seussian legacy emerges triumphant, elevating the power of children’s literature." (Caroline Fraser, author of Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder)  

What listeners say about Becoming Dr. Seuss

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Highly enjoyable!

Well written and well read. Love his books, nice to discover something about the man

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  • Vetbo
  • 21-05-19

Good enough to read but not listen to.

I looked forward to learning about Dr. Seuss and his background. But the narrative was so dull and lifeless that I found it difficult to stay awake. Maybe it could be done over with a better reader.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-05-19

Brian Jay Jones does it again!

Another wonderful, meticulously researched, entertaining and entertaining biography by Brian Jay Jones. If you have read Dr. Seuss and are curious about learning more about the man’s journey of writing the stories (among his other artistic endeavors) that many of us grew up, it’s a must-read!

4 people found this helpful

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  • mmac
  • 27-08-19

Amazing story about an amazing genius

Revealing story about an amazing man and his life and passions. Dr. Seuss taught me to read, then taught my daughters to read. Surely, he will also teach my grandchildren and their children to read too. This biography provides insight into where those wonderful stories and drawings came from. Ted G led a marvelous life and has left humankind with a magical gift for all the "people" he spoke to through his stories.

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  • Lorraine Hayward
  • 03-04-22

Enjoyable and informative

Brian Jay Jones has a knack for covering the eccentric American auteur whether the subject be a children’s book author, the father of Star Wars or the dreamer of The Rainbow Connection. He continues that streak of providing informative, detailed and personal biographies with this biography on Dr.Seuss. It was comprehensive, covering Seuss from his childhood to his last days. Most other books I have read on Seuss seem to be looking for some boogeyman, something insidious in the man, Seuss. They felt more like cheap tabloids and smear campaigns than genuine biographies. Jones doesn’t follow that line of thinking. He shows Seuss as a human; flawed and fabled. Covering such things as his regrettable caricatures earlier in Seuss’s career to his evolving stance on social issues and his previous work as he aged. The book is nuanced in showing the creative genius and the complexity of his life and work. Covering the decline and tragic ending of his first marriage, as well as the revitalizing effect of his second marriage. Overall, this was an enjoyable reading and worth the listen for anyone who loves children’s publishing, American pop culture or just a plain good biography.

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  • barb
  • 25-01-22

Real eye opener - Who knew the depth of Dr. Suess

at first the narration seemed dull but as the story developed I got used to his style. The story is quite long but with all of the events that occurred in Dr Seuss's long life I realized it was necessary in order to get the real depth of his influence and character. I enjoyed it fully.

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  • nick
  • 22-12-21

It's so worth it

This biography of Dr Seuss is top notch. His story is inspiring and honest.

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  • Raven's Edge
  • 04-10-21

the man behind the books

what an informative and thorough story of Theodor Geisel's life. The good, the bad and the ugly.

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  • Jane Orr
  • 28-09-21

Dry and boring

Awful narration, no voice fluctuations. Content boring. Can't believe I paid for this. Skip it.

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  • Christopher
  • 26-02-21

Excellent in every way!

Excellently written and performed. Warts and all bio. Fun and emotional if you have fond memories of his books.

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  • AMY
  • 21-03-20

A Literary Genius and Artistic Master

This comprehensive biography of, perhaps, one of the most creative minds of our modern world is both educational and inspiring. I loved this portrait of the artist, professional, and man. What Dr. Suess did for literary pedagogy was brilliant and timeless. The details of his personal life offered a glimpse into the manifestation of this incredible collection of art and poetic word. After reading this, I love his work even more.