February 20, 2018

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What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss | SLJ Review

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seussSEUSS, Dr. What Pet Should I Get? illus. by Dr. Seuss. 48p. notes. photos. Random House. Aug. 2015. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9780553524260.

PreS-Gr 2–More than 20 years after Theodor Geisel’s death, a newly unearthed Dr. Seuss book hits the shelves. Discovered in 2013 by Geisel’s widow and his assistant, the completed manuscript and accompanying sketches were found in a box containing some of the legendary picture book creator’s doodles and notes. Written sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s, the tale very much reflects the culture of its time: two white siblings go to a pet store and struggle to answer the titular question. The children encounter a menagerie of real and fantastically Seussical animals. The pair bounds exuberantly through each spread as they debate the merits of each creature. The rhyme scheme bounces along merrily for the most part, with the exception of a verse concerning a “yent” in a “tent,” where the pattern shifts awkwardly, though it picks up steam again with the next page turn. While there is no visual adult presence in this book, readers learn that “Dad said we could have one./Dad said he would pay” and that Mother would not like a “thing on a string” that “would bump, bump into the wall!” A repeated spread depicts four potential pets holding up a banner that reads, “MAKE UP YOUR MIND.” There’s an ambiguous ending, and readers are left to wonder what pet the siblings finally bring home. Though the discovered manuscript included only black-and-white sketches, this finished work features the deep aqua, sunshine yellow, and vibrant red that were hallmarks of Seuss illustrations of the time period. Random House’s Cathy Goldsmith, who was the designer and art director for many of Geisel’s titles, worked to capture just the right palette; the good doctor would have been pleased. A note from the publisher reveals a bit of the anxiety associated with publishing a text written more than 50 years ago, “when it was common for people to simply buy dogs, cats, and other animals at pet stores. Today animal advocates encourage us to adopt….” Additional back matter includes anecdotes about a young Ted Geisel and his love of dogs, candid photos, and the story behind the discovery of this volume. VERDICT More nostalgia-inducing than groundbreaking, this picture book offers Seuss fans many familiar touchstones: jaunty rhymes, nonsense words, and the signature artwork beloved by generations of new and emerging readers.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

Left: An original manuscript page. Right: The colorized version for What Pet Should I Get?

Left: An original manuscript page. Right: The colorized version for What Pet Should I Get?

Kiera Parrott About Kiera Parrott

Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for School Library Journal and Library Journal and a former children's librarian. Her favorite books are ones that make her cry—or snort—on public transportation.

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