The Boy on Fairfield Street

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Overview

Award-winning author Kathleen Krull zeros in on the formative first 22 years of the life of Ted Geisel. This is the first picture book biography of Dr. Seuss, written especially for his young fans who want to know what made him tick. The animals in the zoo that his father ran and his fondness for drawing them, the injustices he suffered as the child of German immigrants, and his inherent sense of humor all fed into the imagination of this boy. He was a square peg in a round hole until he found that he could make ...
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Overview

Award-winning author Kathleen Krull zeros in on the formative first 22 years of the life of Ted Geisel. This is the first picture book biography of Dr. Seuss, written especially for his young fans who want to know what made him tick. The animals in the zoo that his father ran and his fondness for drawing them, the injustices he suffered as the child of German immigrants, and his inherent sense of humor all fed into the imagination of this boy. He was a square peg in a round hole until he found that he could make a living doing exactly what he pleased—doodling and writing funny things about the world as he saw it.

The last section of the book outlines the important events in his adult life. In addition to the evocative paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher, the book is profusely decorated with art from Dr. Seuss books.

Introduces the life of renowned children's author and illustrator Ted Geisel, popularly known as Dr. Seuss, focusing on his childhood and youth in Springfield, Massachusetts.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The early years and budding talent of celebrated children's author Dr. Seuss are honored in this inspiring, informative effort by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Published in connection with the 100th anniversary of Theodor Geisel's birth, Krull's picture-book biography begins with Geisel's childhood in Springfield, Massachusetts, and ends when he moves to New York City at the age of 22. Along the way, we learn about Geisel's family and social life, focusing on the boy's feelings of being an outsider (due to his German ancestry in wartime America) and for his unusual art style. As a college student at Dartmouth, a motivated Geisel landed himself a writing and drawing job with a campus humor magazine -- where he began using "Seuss" -- and eventually went on to get published in The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. Overall, audiences get a keen glimpse into Geisel's talent and troubled emotions through Krull's sensitive storytelling, while Johnson and Fancher's dramatic scenes add just the right touch of early American charm. In addition to the story, Krull also provides a lengthy description of Geisel's life in "Beyond Fairfield Street," a complete list of his "great works," and a reference list of the sources for the book's spot art. A short but telling book that will uplift any child with a dream, this tribute with heart will sit marvelously on the Dr. Seuss bookshelves.
Publishers Weekly
Krull's (V Is for Victory) fond tribute to Dr. Seuss focuses on the well-loved author/artist's youth. Growing up in Springfield, Mass., Ted Geisel "feasted on books and was wild about animals" and "excelled at fooling around." The informal, anecdotal narrative explains that Geisel early on demonstrated a passion for drawing (even on his bedroom walls) "whatever popped into his head." He took only one art class, in high school, and quit when the teacher scolded him for "breaking rules" and told him he would never be successful. While attending Dartmouth, Geisel was admired for his "talent for silliness" and, Krull notes with comic irony, "He was clearly gifted, though no one knew at exactly what. It wasn't as if men could doodle for a living." The tale ends rather abruptly as the 22-year-old Geisel arrives in New York City to embark on his artistic career. A four-page addendum, presented in a smaller font, chronicles the highlights of Dr. Seuss's publishing career and provides intriguing tidbits about the creation of some of his beloved books. Johnson and Fancher's (New York's Bravest) representational, nostalgic paintings effectively evoke both the period and Geisel's appealingly puckish personality. Featured in spot art, familiar Seuss characters frolic through these pages, thematically complementing the illustrations while reminding readers why Geisel's life is worth celebrating. Ages 6-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Kids who doodle when they are supposed to be doing something else will find redemption in the story of Ted Geisel's childhood. Geisel's doodles weren't appreciated when he was a child either; in fact he was mostly unappreciated as a child—he was teased in pre-World War I days for his German name, he was not athletic, his art teacher "scolded him for breaking rules" and "his usual instinct was to be awkward in public." With the encouragement of a favorite English teacher, Geisel was accepted at Dartmouth, where "he was clearly gifted, though no one knew at exactly what. It wasn't as if men could doodle for a living." Or could they? The story ends when Geisel is 22 living in Greenwich Village selling cartoons to The Saturday Evening Post under the name Dr. Seuss—Seuss was his middle name and his mother had always wanted him to be a doctor! Four pages of notes fill in the later details of Ted Geisel's life. His famous doodles fill the margins on every page. Unfortunately, the full page illustrations seem rather lifeless by comparison, though they do paint a warm picture of life in small town America in the early twentieth century. Overall, the book is a perfect reminder to teachers of how powerfully early experiences can shape our lives as adults and to kids that a favorite author was once a child himself. 2004, Random House, Ages 4 to 8.
—Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-This picture-book biography is a winner. Ted Geisel was not an athletic child, and spent his free time roaming his neighborhood in Springfield, MA, and hanging out with his best friend. Except for encountering some strong anti-German sentiment, his childhood was ideally normal. The clear, large-type text concentrates on Geisel's youth. It delves a bit into his cartooning talent, honed while he was at Dartmouth College. The story ends with his successful career as Dr. Seuss still to come. An appended four-page section succinctly sums up his life and accomplishments. Johnson and Fancher's lovely, full-page illustrations are supplemented by samples of Dr. Seuss's artwork, including scenes from The Cat and the Hat and The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. A complete list of Seuss's titles, in chronological order, rounds out the title. Mae Woods's Dr. Seuss (ABDO, 2000) devotes more space to his adult life and career. Krull's work is a terrific look at the boyhood of one of the most beloved author/illustrators of the 20th century.-Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
"Once upon a time, there lived a boy who feasted on books and was wild about animals." So begins this young biography of Dr. Seuss. Taunted at school because he was German, his escapes were drawing, the comics he loved, and the zoo, where his father was the parks superintendent in Springfield, Mass. His high-school art teacher warned him he'd never be successful at art; in Dartmouth he was voted "Class Artist and Class Wit," and he left Oxford to draw and write verse. Truly only about his youth, the narrative ends at age 22, when Seuss goes to New York City to launch his career. Four following pages provide a synopsis of his life and a timeline up to his death in 1991. Bordered, full-page oil-on-gessoed-paper illustrations evoke pertinent scenes, while spot art of Seuss drawings dot the opposite pages. Some of these original images are absolutely haunting; the magic of his name will make this a huge hit, but it's the lively writing that puts the hat on the cat. (bibliography, citations, Web sites) (Picture book/biography. 7-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375822988
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/13/2004
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Krull is the author of Harcourt’s popular “Lives of . . .” series and the award-winning Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman. The author lives in San Diego, CA.

Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher illustrated New York’s Bravest, My Many Colored Days, and other distinguished picture books. They live in Minneapolis, MN.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 30, 2009

    Dr. Seuss revealed

    This is the heartwarming story of the beloved Dr. Seuss. The story is his but it could just as well be many little ones as they discover their talents, gifts, and passions in life. A great book for a classroom or for parents to read and discuss with children!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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