Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sentimental Dr. Seuss

Happy World Book Day! And happy birthday (yesterday) to Dr. Seuss! I'm sure you can ask most anyone what their favorite Dr. Seuss book is, and they will have an answer. Or a memory of a book from their childhood. Or just an overall feeling from how his work made (makes?) them feel.

One of my favorite Dr. Seuss books is a sentimental one for me.

I Wish That I Had Duck Feet (Random House, 1965) was penned under the name Theo LeSieg and was illustrated by B. Tobey, rather than Geisel, himself. In it, a boy wishes for duck feet because of all the fun and special things he could do with them that nobody else could. But then he realizes the problems that could arise from having duck feet, and wishes for other things instead: a whale spout, a long, long tail, horns on top of his head... But they all have their problems, too. In the end, he realizes that being himself is really best of all.

This book isn't just special to me because of its cute story, the rhyme, or the pictures. It's because it is one of the few books I vividly remember my dad reading to me as a kid. When I hear the words and see the pictures today -- even when I pass this book displayed on a stand in a bookstore -- it takes me back. I can see the illustrations and remember how I felt seeing them as a child. I can hear the words, and it's my dad's voice reading them. It feels like I'm laying in bed in my green childhood bedroom, ready to drift off to sleep with nary a care in the world.

This may sound a bit dramatic, but it's true. I can't think of another book that takes me back to my own childhood like this one.

As I grew up and moved away to college, I didn't think much about this book. Then, one birthday, my dad gifted me with my own copy! I was so surprised that you could even still get this book, because I had never heard of anyone else reading it. Now, I see it all the time in bookstores and read it to my own children.

Is there a book in your life that takes you back like this?


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