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Writer Was ‘Never Afraid of Being Too Silly’

Theodor Geisel “disarmed everyone,” according to one fan. And “everyone” includes the authors of several best-selling children’s books:

* Eric Carle (“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “The Very Busy Spider”): “When I first encountered Dr. Seuss’ works, I was taken aback--perhaps a typical grown-up reaction. But then the child in me was drawn to these strange creatures and stories again and again, and slowly I was pulled into the magic of this genius.”

* Laurent de Brunhoff (writes and illustrates the Babar stories that his father, Jean de Brunhoff, originated more than 50 years ago): “I was always very admiring of his talents, with some kind of surprise, because his talent is so different from mine.” With Dr. Seuss, “there is always some kind of whimsical characterization in his writing, which I think is wonderful. All his creatures, no matter how strange they are, they are alive, they are somebody.”

* Margaret Rey (created “Curious George” with her late husband H. A. Rey): “He rhymes all the time, and that appeals to children.”

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* Christopher Cerf (writer, publisher, composer and son of Bennett Cerf, Seuss’ original editor at Random House”): “He was willing to go for it. He was never afraid of being too silly.”

But, “the stories are not without important moral messages,” he said. “They’re very absurd in the trimmings, but the message is always very deep.”

The quiet philosophy of decency and gentle self-respect is what ensures Dr. Seuss a permanent position as a writer of classics loved equally by adults and by their children, Cerf said. “In the last 10 to 15 years, people have realized what an important contributor he was.”


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