Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Bet

Yesterday afternoon, in sign language class, I told the girls (Emma, Emily and Kathyrn) about the challenge that was given to Dr. Seuss. 'Write a book with less than ___ words.' And so he wrote Green Eggs and Ham.

(At the time, we were signing "Put me in the Zoo" by Robert Lopshire. (Which is really very easy to sign...and fun too!) Lopshire reminds me of Seuss and "Put Me in the Zoo" is one of the classic Beginner Books.)

Anyway, the challenge was 'less than fifty words' and Seuss won the bet with forty-nine!

So this morning, in order to get my facts straight, I did a little research and found an interesting article on the internet. A portion of it is below.
(The article goes much deeper into the political and social issues of the day and if you are interested in that aspect of Seuss and his times...follow the link)

This is how Katie looks at most of her food!

"The Cat in the Hat" was published in March, 1957, seven months before Sputnik. Within weeks, it was selling at a rate of twelve thousand copies a month. Random House's publisher, Bennett Cerf, contrived to sell his trade edition to the schools through jobbers, and he ended up acquiring the textbook rights from Houghton Mifflin. And 1957 was the peak year of the baby boom. In 1945, the last year of the war, 2.9 million children were born in the United States. In 1952, 3.9 million were born: these are the children who were five years old when "The Cat in the Hat" came out. In 1957, 4.3 million children were born, still the largest cohort in American history. By 1960, "The Cat in the Hat" had sold a million copies. By 2000, it had sold 7.2 million hardcover copies in the United States alone, making it the ninth best-selling children's hardcover book of all time. It was translated into many languages, including Latin: "Cattus Petasatus."

The success of "The Cat in the Hat" persuaded Cerf to start a division at Random House called Beginner Books, and he put his wife, Phyllis, and Geisel in charge of it. They shamelessly appropriated poor, forgotten William Spaulding's model. Phyllis Cerf made a list of three hundred and seventy-nine words, taken from primers. Authors could choose two hundred words from this list, and could add twenty "emergency" words of their own. Beginner Books started with four titles in 1958. By 1960, it was bringing in a million dollars a year. Random House became the largest publisher of children's books in America; a third of its total sales volume was in juvenile books.

A hundred Beginner Books were eventually published. One was "Green Eggs and Ham," in 1960. Bennett Cerf had bet Geisel fifty dollars that he could not write a book using just fifty words. Geisel won the bet. Forty-nine of the words in "Green Eggs and Ham" are one-syllable words. (The fiftieth, of course, is "anywhere.") Cerf didn't come out too badly, though. "Green Eggs and Ham" was the most successful book Dr. Seuss ever wrote. It is the fourth best-selling children's hardcover title of all time. (The No. 1 best-seller is Janette Lowrey's 1942 blockbuster, "The Pokey Little Puppy.")

The New Yorker
What Dr. Seuss really taught us.
by Louis Menard

Hello Snow

The funny thing about snow
is that is it so quiet
and it surprises you
in the morning.

"It snowed!"

Encourage one another,


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