I’m happy to share Kate Klimo‘s Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler (2016, Random House). The book includes paintings by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher and illustrations by Dr. Seuss. I’m usually not a fan of leveled books (this one’s part of the Step Into Reading program and is intended for children in grades 1-3), but I loved the language in the book and the ways in which Klimo captures Ted Geisel’s passion for doodling and telling stories that matter.
Here’s what I love about the book:
(1) It’s about what it takes to be an artist and writer. Readers learn how Seuss was inspired by his surroundings and what was going on around him. This is a great little book to help developing artists and writers learn that sometimes the best material is right around us. The book is a tribute to the doodlers in us all and what can come from being observant in our lives!
(2) The book provides a great introduction to Dr. Seuss. Although the book is intended for students in grades 1-3, it can be used in K-16 classroom settings. I’m thinking about adding this book to my children’s literature course as a read-aloud text when we discuss Dr. Seuss and the Geisel award winners.
(3) It’s a children’s book that doesn’t sugarcoat realities. Klimo does not shy away from presenting readers with the realities Seuss faced: the struggles he had as a writer, World War II, the environmental issues about which he cared deeply, and the death of his first wife. When we read realistic fiction texts, my students and I discuss how realistic fiction needs to present what real life is like – in its most wonderful and tragic moments. And this book definitely does this.
I’m not going to lie. I’m usually a bit resistant to leveled texts because of my ideas that they are not going to present children to authentic literature. But I must say that I recommend Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodlers to the early readers (or doodlers) you know!