How much would you pay for an unpublished Dr.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


NY Times Best of 2010

Notable Children’s Books of 2010


Illustration by Jakob Hinrichs

By Richard Michelson.
Illustrated by R. G. Roth.

Unpaged. Knopf. $16.99. (Ages 6 to 10)

Brewster is a black child living in a segregated neighborhood in the early 1970s. He’s not dreaming of a way out, only of starting first grade with Miss Evelyn — until his mother announces that he and his brother will be bused to the “white school” an hour away. The understated honesty of Michelson’s writing and Roth’s art capture the period perfectly in this tale, one of this year’s New York Times best illustrated children’s books.

By Robert Lipsyte.
280 pp. HarperTeen/HarperCollins. $16.99. (Ages 12 and up)

Lipsyte’s pitch-perfect young adult novel follows a jaded but likable suburban kid who wants only to play center field, where it’s “open and clean, no foul lines or crazy angles.” But it takes time to get there. The suburb he lives in, with its neglected teenagers, overworked adults and scheming, self-serving authority figures, seems like a stand-in for early-21st-century America.

By Anne Isaacs.
Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.

Unpaged. Schwartz & Wade. $17.99. (Ages 5 to 9)

In this gorgeous sequel to the Caldecott Honor-winning “Swamp Angel,” the brave and resourceful Angelica Long rider, all of 16 years old, once again proves herself worthy to wear the boots of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill or John Henry. Zelinsky’s precise and witty illustrations, in American primitive style, match Isaacs’ text, which captures the outsize tone of the frontier, where the soil is “rich enough to open its own bank.”


Unfortunate Children’s Book Covers

Really?  What were they thinking?


“I Can Read” Books with the Wonderful Arnold Lobel

I was at a friend’s house the other day and her first grader was reading Arnold Lobel’s “Mouse Tales.”  (Ages 4 – 8 )   I couldn’t help but be reminded how enchanting I find both Mr. Lobel’s stories and illustrations.   As any parent can tell you, there are a ton of “learn-to-read” books out there, but for my money you just can’t go wrong with these timeless, quaint, engaging stories.

Frog and Toad

So who was this Lobel guy, you ask?  Hey, that’s what I’m here for!

Uncle Elephant

Born in 1933,  Arnold Lobel wrote and/or illustrated over 70 books for children during his distinguished career. To his illustrating credit, he had a Caldecott Medal book — Fables (1981) — and two Caldecott Honor Books-his own Frog and Toad are Friends (1971) and Hildilid’s Night by Cheli Duran Ryan (1972).  He has a Caldecott Honor for Frog and Toad Together.

Owl at Home

Mr. Lobel passed away in 1987, but to his greatest credit, he had a following of literally millions of young children with whom he shared the warmth and humor of his unpretentious vision of life.

Here are a few excellent choices if you have a book baby who’s just getting the hang of this whole reading thing.  But there are many more to choose from as well.

Uncle Elephant

Owl At Home

The Frog and Toad Collection

Grasshopper on the Road

All the Pretty Pictures. Meet the 2010 Caldecott Winners for Best Picture Books

What exactly is the Caldecott Medal, you ask?

And who is this Caldecott person who gives out said medal?

First off, in the United States, receiving the Randolph Caldecott Medal is the highest honor an artist can achieve for children’s book illustrations. The Caldecott awards are administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).  It’s announced each January during the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting.

According to the ALSC,

    “The Medal shall be awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children published in English in the United States during the preceding year. There are no limitations as to the character of the picture book except that the illustrations be original work. Honor Books may be named. These shall be books that are also truly distinguished.”

This annual award has been presented every year since 1938. The catchy title came from Randolph Caldecott, a nineteenth century English illustrator who was known for his picture book illustrations. Several alternate books are also designated as Caldecott Honor Books for the quality of their illustrations.

In 2010, artist Jerry Pinkney was named the recipient of the Caldecott Medal forThe Lion & the Mouse, his adaptation of one of Aesop’s fables. According to the January 18, 2010 ALA media release.

    “The screech of an owl, the squeak of a mouse and the roar of a lion transport readers to the Serengeti plains for this virtually wordless retelling of Aesop’s classic fable. In glowing colors, Pinkney’s textured watercolor illustrations masterfully portray the relationship between two very unlikely friends.  Pinkney’s stunning watercolors add new dimensions to an ancient tale in a book which is sure to become a beloved classic,’ said Caldecott Committee Chair Rita Auerbach.”

The 2010 Caldecott Medal Honors book.

  • All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, written by Liz Garton Scanlon. “In All the World, Frazee’s small vignettes and sweeping double-page spreads invite readers to share a joyful day with a diverse, multigenerational community. Flowing lines and harmonious colors give vibrant life to Scanlon’s poetic text,” said the ALA.
  • Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman. “InRed Sings from Treetops, Zagarenski’s playful illustrations enliven Sidman’s expressive poetry in this exploration of the seasons and their colors. Computer illustration and mixed-media paintings on wood combine rich textures, intriguing graphic elements, stunning colors and stylized figures to reward attentive readers with a visually exciting interplay of poetry and illustration,” noted the ALA.