Dr. Seuss First Edition Identification

The Cat In The Hat, written & illustrated by Theodor Seuss Geisel
Random House, 1957

Children’s Picturebook Price Guide Value:  $4,000 VG+

First Edition Identifying Point
Front DJ Flap:   Price “200/200″

First Issue Book
Book spine:  Single signature; 2nd issue and later printings have three signatures.

Be very careful with sellers substituting the 1985 facsimile dust jacket on the first edition book.  The only difference between the 1985 facsimile DJ and the first edition DJ is the phrase “Printed in U.S.A.” on the bottom back flap of the facsimile.

Background

(Note:  The following is a Wikipedia entry, which we wrote.)

Dr. Seuss created The Cat In The Hat in reaction to the May 24, 1954 Life Magazine article by John Hersey, titled “Why Do Students Bog Down On First R? A LOCAL COMMITTEE SHEDS LIGHT ON A NATIONAL PROBLEM: READING.” In the article, Hersey was critical of school primers,

“In the classroom boys and girls are confronted with books that have insipid illustrations depicting the slicked-up lives of other children. [Existing primers] feature abnormally courteous, unnaturally clean boys and girls.” “In bookstores, anyone can buy brighter, livelier books featuring strange and wonderful animals and children who behave naturally, i.e., sometimes misbehave. Given incentive from school boards, publishers could do as well with primers.”

Hersey’s arguments were enumerated over ten pages of Life Magazine, which was the leading periodical during that time. After detailing many issues contributing to the dilemma connected with student reading levels, Hersey asked toward the end of the article:

“Why should [school primers] not have pictures that widen rather than narrow the associative richness the children give to the words they illustrate — drawings like those of the wonderfully imaginative geniuses among children’s illustrators, Tenniel, Howard Pyle, “Dr. Seuss,” Walt Disney?”

Dr. Seuss responded to this “challenge” by rigidly limiting himself to a small set of words from an elementary school vocabulary list, then crafted a story based upon two randomly selected words—cat and hat.

  One Response to “The Cat In The Hat (1957)”

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    The conventional wisdom among booksellers is first edition Dr. Seuss books cannot be identified without the dust jacket. This used to be true. With the recent discovery of some salient information, today, most of the large format Dr. Seuss…

   

© Stan Zielinski, author of the Children's Picturebook Price Guide, is a serious collector having fun with fun books.

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