What Dr. Seuss Taught the Berenstain Bears
The relationship between two titans of children’s publishing
I always imagined that if Theodor Geisel–the real name behind Dr. Seuss–were to ever issue writing advice it would be in a whimsical rhyming form that would ultimately offend and disappoint the student:
Make your wild creatures human/or else crises will be looming
Always keep your verbs intact/never let them contract/said the blue man with red cataracts
Use great many details/so you won’t end up in retail
As it turns out, Geisel gave some pretty lucid and useful advice to Stan and Jan Berenstain–creators of the Berenstain Bears–as they were putting together their first book “The Big Honey Hunt.”
1. Seuss encouraged the aspiring writers “to see the lumbering creatures as real people, asking such pointed questions as ‘Who are these bears? What are they about? What does Papa do for a living? What kind of pipe tobacco does he smoke?’”
2. He also criticized the writing: “the sentences were too long, there were too many contractions.”
3. Suess added that he thought “the Berenstains used too many ‘female rhymes’ (meaning a rhyme that ends in a soft sound, like you/through, while a ‘male’ rhyme ends with a hard consonant, like mat/hat).”
4. Seuss concluded: “The story had to be a page-turner to keep children’s ‘eyeballs glued to the page.’”
Not bad advice. Dozens of books later, the Berenstains are now synonymous with both childhood and the psychology of birth order, the latter of which Dr. Seuss probably never saw coming. Can’t win ‘em all doc.
How Dr. Seuss Helped the Berenstein Bears [GalleyCat]
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.