How much would you pay for an unpublished Dr. Seuss?

LA TIMES  October 18, 2010 | 10:16 am


Dr. Seuss’ book that wasn’t, ‘All Sorts of Sports,’ up for auction

Los Angeles auction house Nate D. Sanders has acquired a lost Dr. Seuss manuscript from a former assistant of Theodore Geisel; the hand-drawn and hand-lettered pages are now up for auction.

The book, “All Sorts of Sports,” was abandoned in the 1960s. It has rhymes and rhythms like many of Geisel’s books: “What am I going to do today. Well, that’s a simple matter. Oh, that’s easy. We could play. There are so many sports games to play. We could swim. I could play baseball … golf … or catch. Or I could play a tennis match.”

But around Page 6, his sports ideas peter out, with the text turning into nonsense. “I could blumf. Or blumf blumf blumf blumf blumf. Or blumf. Or blumf blumf blumf blumf blumf.” After that, the remaining dozen pages are lettered by an assistant and include notes from Geisel.

The auction runs through Thursday; the bidding, currently at about $1,600, has not yet reached the reserve price.

The lot includes a 1983 letter from Geisel on “Cat in the Hat” stationery, in which he remembers the “All Sorts of Sports” manuscript but finds the story lacking. “When you picture these negative scenes in illustrations, you will find that negatives are always more memorable than positives. And I think the reader’s reaction will be, ‘What’s the matter with this dope?’ ”

Perhaps that understanding of what stuck with readers is what set Dr. Seuss apart. After all, who can forget “Green Eggs and Ham”?

— Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Manuscript pages up for auction. Credit: Nate D. Sanders


A Bunch of Things You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know About Nancy Drew

The first Nancy Drew book

1.  The fantastic Nancy Drew, girl detective, was created in 1930 by Edward Stratemeyer, founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate book packaging firm. Stratemeyer had created the Hardy Boys series in 1926 (although the first volumes were not published until 1927). The series had been such a success that he decided to create a similar series for girls, with an amateur girl detective as the heroine.  The books have been ghostwritten by a number of authors and are published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene.

2. Early on, a blonde (!) Nancy Drew was accompanied by a character named Helen Corning on adventures, but soon Helen was replaced by the classic foil characters, Bess Marvin and George Fayne. Bess and George are cousins and help Nancy, whose hair was suddenly described as Titian, solve her mysteries.

3.Nancy Drew made her cinema debut in 1938 and 1939 when Bonita Granville starred in four movies about the teenage detective. Forty years later, Nancy appeared on television in weekly mystery episodes starring Pamela Sue Martin, and later, Janet Louise Johnson.

4.While solving some 500 mysteries since 1930, Nancy Drew’s car has been yellow, green and even maroon.  (Which is funny since I remember it being blue)

Someone buy me a mug!

5. What’s your feeling on a series starring Diana Dare, Stella Strong, Nan Nelson or Helen Hale?  Those are a few names creator Edward Stratemeyer pitched before landing on Nancy Drew. To make matters worse, the first choice was Nan Drew, but his wise editors thought lengthening the name to “Nancy” made it roll off the tongue a little better.

6. Stratemeyer allegedly wrote all of the plot outlines, but he hired someone else to do the actual story writing.  I remember being stunned to discover that Carolyn Keene was a psudenom.  The original writer’s name was Mildred Wirt and she was paid $125 to $250 for each book she wrote. She also received one fifth of the royalties from any book she had written. She didn’t write all of them, but Wirt is largely regarded as having the most influence on how the series was developed.

7. Many very influential, powerful and intelligent women (as well as yours truly) have cited Nancy Drew as one of their favorite book series and even go so far as to say that the character helped them realize that women could do anything. This includes Sandra Day O’Connor, Sonia Sotomayor, Hilary Clinton, Laura Bush, Barbara Walters and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  All this despite the fact that Stratemeyer firmly stated that a woman’s place was in the home.  Ironically, his two daughters grew up to have controlling stakes in Stratemeyer Syndicate and wrote for various Stratemeyer’s book series, including the Hardy Boys.  Sorry daddy.

8. Stratemeyer Syndicate was responsible for several children’s book series.  So if certain series from the era seem rather formulaic… well, you get the point.  Other Stratemeyer Syndicate series included The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, The Dana Girls Mystery Stories and The Kay Tracey Mysteries.

9. In France, Nancy Drew was renamed Alice Roy; Kitty Drew in Sweden; Paula Drew in Finland; Miss Detective in Norway, although inside the book she’s still known as Nancy.  Strangely in Germany, Nancy is a law student who goes by the name Susanne Langen — uh, shouldn’t that just be a different series?

10. Some guys just can’t take a hint.  Poor Ned Nickerson spends all of his time pining after Nancy, who isn’t nearly as invested in him.  In the first Nancy Drew silver screen adaptation (1938), even his name wasn’t good enough – screenwriters thought the name “Ned” was dated and renamed him “Ted.”  And when Nancy finally goes to college in 1995 in the”Nancy Drew on Campus” series, readers were invited to call a 1-800 number to vote on whether Nancy should keep dating Ned or start playing the field.  Readers overwhelmingly voted for a new boyfriend and the rest of the series featured a new beau named Jake.  Aw, poor Ned.

11. Russell Tandy was the illustrator of the original series, creating dust jackets and internal illustrations for the first 26 books. But that was just one of his gigs: he also drew six Hardy Boys covers, served as a fashion illustrator for high-end department stores, illustrated for Butterick Patterns and also designed the Jantzen swimwear logo. Plus, he had friends in high places: he counted Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali and Norman Rockwell among his nearest and dearest.

12. Of all of the Nancy Drew books, sales show that the second book in the series, “The Hidden Staircase”, is the fan favorite. As of 2001, it had sold 1,821,457 copies, making it #68 on a list of top 100 all-time bestselling children’s books. This puts Team Nancy ahead of Eloise, Charlotte’s Web, Yertle the Turtle and Curious George.

13. If you love Nancy Drew you can attend the 2011 Nancy Drew Convention in Charlottesville VA.    You can get more info at

I'm a medium.

14.  If you’re looking for ideas for my Christmas gift, check out Nancy Drew Cafepress store for tons of fun Nancy Drew stuff.

Great websites and my sources.

The Nancy Drew SleuthsAround the World with Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew Heaven, The Unofficial Nancy Drew Homepage, Nancy Drew on, Mentalfloss  


Unfortunate Children’s Book Covers

Really?  What were they thinking?


Who Would Ban “Winnie-the-Pooh?”

Banned Children’s Books: The Usual Suspects and Few Surprises.

Books won’t stay banned. They won’t burn. Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education.”  Alfred Whitney from Essays on Education

Not so many years ago when my own child was just an itty-bitty little thing, I found a copy of “Bonjour Babar!” at a garage sale for just a buck. Because I remember reading Babar with my grandmother, I was psyched to acquire my very own copy to continue the tradition.

But once we got snuggled up in bed and actually started reading, I grew concerned.  Wait… I don’t remember these stories being so… uh… politically incorrect.

Over the years, the Babar stories have been repeatedly banned because they are charged with being “racist” and “extolling the virtues of a European middle-class lifestyle and disparaging the animals and people who have remained in the jungle.”  Babar has been labeled “Eurocentric” by its detractors.

Yep, that pretty much sums up my feelings from that night a few years back (except with fancier words) but is it reason enough to ban the jolly elephant in a green suit?  Or to even burn the book? More

You might be a Book Mama (or Daddy) if you…

– Have a first edition of all seven “Harry Potter” books.

– Enjoy long meaningful conversations with the librarians at your kids’ school.

– Know all the words to “Goodnight Moon,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and/or “Where the Wild Things Are” by heart.

– Spend the better part of a dinner party talking to the host’s 13-year-old about what they’re reading.

– Bought a first generation Kindle.

– Have a “one-click” account at

– The barista at Barnes and Noble knows how you take your latte.

– Look forward to New Years because the Newberry Awards are just around the corner.

– Or you just love, love, love books.

I ♥ “Going Bovine.” A thinking-teen’s novel.

If you’re looking for a smart, entertaining book that will make your teen think then “Going Bovine” by Libba Bray (ages 13 – up; references to sex and drugs) is just what the doctor ordered.

Unfortunately, not far into “Going Bovine” our angst-ridden, 16-year old, slacker of a hero Cameron gets some seriously bad news from his doctor: he’s got Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.  A.K.A. Mad Cow.  Which totally sucks.

Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a super hot, cheeky, neon-pink punk angel(or possible hallucination) with a bad sugar habit.  She confides that there’s a secret cure to his otherwise fatal disease—if he’s willing to go in search of it.

With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a pint-sized yard gnome, Cameron sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

This “quest” story has clear parallels to the hopeless but inspirational efforts of Don Quixote, about whom Cameron had been reading before his illness.

Libba Bray’s voice is strong, confident and clever.  She crafts a road-trip story that is original, laugh-out-loud funny, and gorgeously poignant.

The voice is so fresh, the imagery so intriguing, and the conclusion — inevitable — yet profound leaves one wondering what exactly was reality and what was hallucinatory.

Recommended to teens and adults alike.

It’s not a perfect book.  A bit too long and perhaps a tad too fantastical in places, but Cameron is ultimately a kid with a heart the size of Cleveland.  He will leave the most cynical teen (or adult) thinking about what they’re thankful for and pondering what really matters to them in this mad-cow, crazy world.

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