Reviews for Boy on Fairfield Street : How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 February 2004
Gr. 3-5, younger for reading aloud. Before Geisel became Dr. Seuss, he was a boy who "feasted on books and was wild about animals." This introductory sentence begins a delightful picture-book biography about Geisel that chronicles how he became an innovative writer and illustrator beloved by readers young and old. Born in 1904 to a mother who enjoyed reading and a father who worked at the zoo in Springfield, Massachusetts, Geisel spent his days doodling, hanging out with friends, and generally fooling around. Yet there were also some difficult moments. His German heritage made him a target for teasing at the advent of World War I; he was also a rule breaker and was told by his teacher that he would never get anywhere with his art. The book ends when Geisel, already a published cartoonist, is 22, living in Greenwich Village, and looking forward to a bright future. An extended author's note details how Geisel became Dr. Seuss and discusses a number of his works. Krull's pithy text is extended by full-page paintings that glow with the memory of yesteryear and capture the mix of humor and poignancy that comes with trying to fit in. Spot art from Geisel's own books enlivens the text pages. ((Reviewed February 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
With additional illustrations by Dr. Seuss. This affectionate survey centers on Geisel's boyhood, plus a bit on his brush with higher education, concluding with the first months of his career. The high points are summarized, but the real story here is of a boy who couldn't stop doodling. Krull does a good job of linking such early propensities with what turned up later in Geisel's books. Nostalgic full-page paintings nicely recall illustrations of the period. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #1
Just in time for Dr. Seuss's one hundredth birthday comes this biographical tribute, an affectionate survey centered on Ted Geisel's boyhood, plus a bit on his brush with higher education (neither Dartmouth College, where he was voted "Least Likely to Succeed," nor Oxford University engaged his full attention), concluding with the first months of his career. Four additional pages summarize the high points and pivotal moments of his entire life in somewhat more detail, but the real story here is of a boy who couldn't stop doodling, who "feasted on books and was wild about animals," and who "excelled at fooling around." Krull does a good job of linking such early propensities with what turned up later, visually and thematically, in Geisel's books. Johnson and Fancher provide nostalgic full-page paintings that nicely recall illustrations of the period; a wealth of adroitly chosen vignettes from Seuss's own books (listed at the end) illuminate points made in the text (teenage Ted "knew his art broke the rules," observes Krull on a page sporting a gleefully determined race car-driving fish from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish). Fans are sure to enjoy meeting the irrepressible man behind the ever-popular books. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2003 December #2
"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) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2004 October
Kathleen Krull presents a touching view of the life of Ted Geisel from early childhood visiting the zoo to his young adult years at Dartmouth College, as well as the poignant events that shaped his life. Geisel's unique view of the world while growing up in Springfield, Massachusetts marked him by many members of the community as a dreamer, but his imagination and supportive German-immigrant parents enabled him to create fanciful creatures that reflected positive and negative human behaviors. Although most teachers and peers considered him a mediocre student, he proved to his detractors that he could be a successful author and illustrator, which encouraged children to read. The book is liberally peppered with illustrations of the whimsical characters found in many of his children's books, as well as beautifully soft images portraying Geisel's personal life. At the book's conclusion, an addenda includes a biographical sketch providing additional information for older readers who want more detail about Seuss' life. A list of books by Dr. Seuss is provided, as well as a brief bibliography and six pertinent Web sites featuring this beloved author. This book would be a wonderful addition to a library program celebrating the "Seussentennial" and beyond. Recommended. Cynthia Schulz, Director of Learning Resources, Northwest Educational Service District 189, Anacortes, Washington © 2004 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 January #2
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.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 January
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.

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