Should You Get The New Dr. Seuss Book?

Claiborne Smith is the Austin-based editor in chief of Kirkus Reviews.

By Laura RiceJuly 28, 2015 8:45 am,

By now, you’ve probably heard about the latest book – newly discovered and rushed to publication.

No, we’re not talking about Harper Lee’s “Go Set A Watchman” that came out a few weeks ago. Instead, this one comes from a one Theodore Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss.

We decided to call in our resident Texas expert, Kirkus Reviews’ Claiborne Smith, to find out whether you should get “What Pet Should I Get?”

On the Kirkus Reviews’ review:

“This isn’t our reviewer’s favorite of [Dr. Seuss’] books – we were pretty lukewarm on it … The rhyme doesn’t really quite attain that level of Dr. Seuss-ian zaniness that we all remember and love.”

On who it’s being published for:

“Random House Children’s Books did a first printing of one million copies, which is astounding. So I think they’re intending it for everyone. So it’s very much for children, it is also a great nostalgia trip for adults who read Dr. Seuss as children themselves.”

On whether he thinks kids will like it:

“I do!”

On why it wasn’t published before:

“I asked the editor at Random House Children’s Books that very question. Her theory is that he had huge success with ‘One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish’ and ‘The Cat in the Hat Comes Back’ that he was so furiously working on those that this just sort of got forgotten. And he was an extremely meticulous thinker and creator, so I actually tend to buy that. She said that if he really didn’t want it to be published he would have thrown it away.”

On how this book was put together:

“The publisher had to sort of assemble from the notes that [Dr. Seuss] had left. And what [Dr. Seuss] used to do, as you know, he illustrated his books as well as wrote them. So he would put these little pieces of onion skin down on his paintings and, as he was revising, he would put new onion skin on top of the previous pieces for the new rhyme that he would come up with and the new text. So the publisher had to kind of guess – for the most part they would take the text that was on the top — but there was no road map for this so they had to assemble it from what was left and it was in a storage closet in his house in La Jolla, California.”