The Boy on Fairfield Street
Krull, K. (2004). The boy on Fairfield Street: how Ted Geisel grew up to become Dr. Seuss. New York, NY: Random House.
In The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss, we see a very different side of the famous author and illustrator. This book begins with his birth and childhood in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1904. The book tells of his love of reading, animals, and wild imagination. He had an active and colorful childhood, but begin to struggle to fit in as he grew older.
His love of drawing never ceased even when discouraged by his art teacher. It wasn’t until after college that Ted Geisel found success first by selling drawings to magazines. He moved to New York, began drawing full-time, and began signing his work “Dr. Theophrastus Seuss” or “Dr. Seuss” just because it amused him. These drawings led to complaints and fan mail. One of the first pieces of fan mail came from a 12-year-old boy. This gave Ted Geisel the idea to create works specifically for children.
The illustrations in this book do not disappoint. They are whimsical and yet thoughtful. I felt as though I went on an emotional roller coaster as I learned of the ups and downs in Ted Geisel’s life. I found the book inspiring and I think children will also. The picture book only covers the first 22 years of his life, however, a factual appendix in the back covers the rest of his life. I think children will best relate to these first 22 years and may appreciate their own individuality more after reading it.
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) 2004, Random, $16.95. Category: Picture book/biography. Ages 7 to 11. Starred Review. © 2003 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus. (2003, December 15). [Review of the book The boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel grew up to become Dr. Seuss, by K. Krull]. Kirkus Reviews 71(24). Retrieved from http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/kathleen-krull/the-boy-on-fairfield-street/#review
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. 2004, Random House Children’s Publishing, 45pp., $16.95 hc. Ages 8 to 12
Schulz, C. (2004, October). [Review of the book The boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel grew up to become Dr. Seuss, by K. Krull]. Library Media Connection. Retrieved from http://www.librarymediaconnection.com/
Uses in the Library
This book could be displayed with other biographies to show the variation that exists in the books that are in this genre. Not only is the biographical book interesting, but creative as well. The lesson for the display is that biographies do not have to be boring. They come in all sizes: short and long, with and without illustrations, and can be about anyone, not just historical figures.