I’m sure many of you heard the quick clip on NPR the other morning about Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)’s road to publication. It was, for me, extremely timely and another example of being in the right place at the right time.
Dr Seuss had finished his manuscript for And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street about a little boy imagining what he would tell his father about his disappointingly uneventful walk home. He had submitted it to twenty-seven publishing houses, all of whom had summarily rejected it. He was walking down the street in New York City, ready to toss the manuscript and try his hand at another career, when he happened to bump into an old acquaintance who happened to work in publishing who agreed, probably out of a weary sense of obligation, to look at the work. And, well, the rest is history.
Just think for a moment of a world without Dr. Seuss. Sure, you could say he’s just another talented children’s author, but he was also quite revolutionary. He tackled issues of racism (The Sneetches) and environmentalism (The Lorax) long before it was popular to do so. The Lorax, for one, has stood the test of time; as relevant a creed for anti-consumerism and environmental protection today as it was forty years ago. He made reading cool (I Can Read With My Eyes Shut) and gave students everywhere something to reach for and dream of (Oh, The Places You’ll Go!).
So, I imagine that boy, the one from Mulberry Street, standing instead on the same street where some unknown named Theodor Geisel stood chatting with some other unknown, two boring men in suits engaged in a brief conversation. And that little boy would have looked away, searching for something more exciting, more remarkable to witness, never realizing the magic of what was happening right before his eyes.