USA Today posted some big news for Seuss lovers yesterday. There will be a new Dr. Seuss book! Looks like I started my posthumous section just in time.
Audrey Geisel (Dr. Seuss aka Theodor Geisel’s widow) seems to have a secret stash of Seuss’ notes that she teases us with every couple of years. This time it is a book called What Pet Should I Get? (a very promising title!)
Hopefully this publication will follow in the footsteps of Charles Cohen’s (author of The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss) collections such as The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories and last years Horton and the Kwuggerbug.
Mr. Cohen does an amazing job of showing us the history of these works and including as much of Dr. Seuss original sketches as can be found. The are only updated to make them smooth and cohesive like any publication Seuss would have done himself while he was alive.
I’m hoping it will not be like Daisy-Head Mayzie; full of changed lines, obvious non-Seussian language and ridiculous attempts to copy his illustrations. Goodness me, I got a little mean there.
Either way I am very excited for this new publication! And I’ll have a post about as soon as I can get my hands on a copy!
Thanks for reading,
Tagged: Audrey Geisel, children’s books, New Dr. Seuss, Posthumous Dr. Seuss, Random House, What Pet Should I Get
Published by Random House in 1994. Illustrations based on the Hannah Barbera cartoon special.
The Cat in the Hat opens the story to tell us that it really did happen. Daisy-Head Mayzie starts out as just Mayzie McGrew, a young girl sitting in class, but then all of a sudden a daisy grows out of the top of her head. Other students point it out to the teacher who tries to yank it out unsuccessfully. This causes an uproar from the class as they shout “Daisy-Head Mayzie” over and over. So, the teacher, Miss Sneetcher, removes Mayzie from class and takes her to the Principle’s office.
The Principle, Mr. Gregory Grumm, is very smart and his office is full of books. He researches daisies to find out why there is one growing on Mayzie’s head, but he doesn’t find an answer. Then the daisy begins to wilt! At first Mr. Grumm thinks all is well because the daisy will be gone soon, but he quickly realizes that Mayzie seems to be wilting too and discerns that if the daisy dies so will Mayzie!
They make Mayzie lie down and then call her parents. Mrs. McGrew is a welder (image only – see notes below) and Mr. McGrew is a shoe salesmen. They both leave work and head to the school. The Principle also calls Dr. Eisenbart and Finch the Florist.
Meanwhile, Mayzie is laying down when a swarm of bees flies in through the window, attracted by the flower. She jumps out the window to run away from the bees. When she tries to hide behind Office Thatcher he holds his hat up and catches all of the bees in it. Then he runs after Mayzie back to the school.
Mayzie’s parents, a customer from the shoe store, the doctor and his patient and the florist are all in the Principles office causing a raucous. Then Office Thatcher and Mayzie jump in through the window and slam the pane down so the bees can’t get in. The daisy on her head has gotten taller and fatter!
The crowd of people swarm around Mayzie. Her mother wants to faint, the florist wants to cut off the daisy, the doctor wants to use her to get a research grant. Then even more people start showing up including the Mayor! There is also a smooth talking agent named Finagle. Finagle the Agent convinces Mayzie to sign a contract with think-proof ink, even though her mother disapproves and the principle tries to tell her not to leave school. “Daisy-head” becomes a sensation!
And Daisy-Head drinks.
And Daisy-Head sinks.
And Daisy-Head bows.
Mayzie was famous,
The star of her shows.”
Daisy had gotten tons of money, but she has no friends. She runs away and tells herself over and over “I can never go home. Nobody loves me. Nobody loves me. Nobody loves me.” Then the daisy, doing what daisies do when they hear about love, starts plucking itself:
“They love her…
They love her NOT!
They love her…
They love her NOT!”
When the reader flips the page they see one last petal showing that “they” do love Mayzie! The Cat in the Hat takes her back to her family and friends at school. Then he sums everything up and lets the reader know that Mayzie is doing well, the flower went away, and she is back to her studies.
“And concerning that daisy…you know that it never
Grew out of the top of her head again ever!
Errr…well, it practically never popped up there again.
Excepting, occasionally. Just now and then.”
The final page is just Mayzie with the daisy on her head and she finish the story with,
“And, after all…I’m getting used to it!”
The dedication reads
To the ongoing presence of
Theodor S. Geisel…Dr. Seuss
This book was published posthumously and was not illustrated by Dr. Seuss. In fact, Seuss started it as a manuscript that was finished by Hannah Babara cartoons and the book was published after the movie. Philip Nel points out several of the differences between Seuss’ sketches and the finished product in his book Dr. Seuss: American Icon. In Seuss’ earlier drafts there was no Cat in the Hat involved, the narrator was just an ordinary man. Also, in the book we see Mayzie’s mother as a welder whereas, in Seuss’ sketches, Mrs. McGrew is depicted holding a tray of dishes when they call her to tell her about Mayzie. There are other small changes, such as the teacher carrying Mayzie out of the classroom rather than following her out as she does in Seuss’ drawings.
There are enough changes to justify some sort of introduction in the book to explain how the story came about. This is done in later posthumous works like The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, and Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. Without some sort of clarification or explanation the book just seems choppy and feels very much like an early draft. Also, the illustrations attempt to match Seuss’ style, but fail in my opinion. I had a hard time writing this post because I dislike this book and often don’t count it as one of Dr. Seuss children’s stories, but I felt it was only fair to include it since it is based on his work and published under his name.
“Quit yanking,” Butch said. “You’re giving her pains.
I’ll bet that those roots go way down in her brains!”
It’s a simple and fun quote that reminds me that it is at least partially written by Seuss.
I’m a bit of cheater, because this image does not appear in the book, but it is an image actually drawn by Dr. Seuss of the main character and it has all the charm and classic Seussianess that I feel the book lacks.
Thanks for reading,
Tagged: children’s books, Daisy, Daisy-Head Mayzie, Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss posthumous