RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 1 Tanya Anderson

Welcome to RhyPiBoMo 2016!

Can you believe it’s April? I am SO excited for this year’s event. Each year I think it can’t get any better and then…I am blessed that our wonderful guest bloggers have agreed to share their insight into how to write professional RPBs and what will get you noticed…and what NOT to do! PLEASE like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!

RhyPiBoMo 2016 Calendar

Every year we honor an author of rhyme and poetry. This year’s honoree is Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss. He is a man of many talents and we owe him our praise for creating such treasured books for children. The quote this year, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out!” is the perfect mantra for us rhymers. Let’s all take pride in our rhyming efforts and not let criticism of rhyme keep us from creating the books that children, parents and teachers treasure! But, to do it well means lots and lots and lots of time and work and rejection.

So, go…stand out!

I had the good fortune of meeting our first guest blogger about 15 years ago at an SCBWI conference in Indiana. She spoke to us about poetry and rhyme and even mentioned that she authored a biography about Ted. I still have a copy of that book in my office and I believe that was the moment I fell in love with writing rhyming manuscripts. So who better to begin our month of rhyme than Editor and Author Tanya Anderson!


TanyaAnderson photo news sun

Author/Editor Tanya Anderson


A Tribute to Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)

and Rhyme

Long before he hopped on Pop or put a hat on a cat, Ted Geisel was a success. He had had a happy childhood, was popular in high school, and graduated from Dartmouth College (with a major in English!), where he met his first wife, Helen. She is the one who noticed him doodling in class one day and told him, “You’re crazy to be a professor. What you really want to do is draw.” It was love at first sight.

Ted set himself up as a freelance writer and illustrator, hoping to make enough money to finally marry Helen and start their life together. He was a humor writer, and the odd illustrations of unrecognizable animal and trees became cartoons (think: James Thurber but bizarre). He submitted his work to New York publishers, hoping to get a paid gig or to sell his work outright. Rejections piled up. He fought discouragement by drawing more silly scenes, including some hysterically funny political cartoons. He sold his first work to Saturday Evening Post for $25 and signed it “Seuss.”

Dr. Seuss cartoon 1

From the National World War II Museum Archives

In 1927, Ted was hired as a staff writer at Judge magazine in New York City. He began using the name “Dr. Seuss” on a regular feature in that magazine. He also drew advertising cartoons for the publication—and that skill paid off in big ways. His silly-looking ads for Flit bug spray went far beyond one magazine, showing up on billboards, in newspapers, and in the subway. He made good money (even though the Great Depression had hurt so many), but something was still missing.

He played with words. He doodled and colored. The rhythms of his mother’s voice, from far back in his childhood when she read to him, were imbedded in his literary ears. Rhythm and rhyme were the hooks. In the summer of 1936, Ted and Helen were returning from a trip to Europe aboard a luxury liner. Unable to sleep, Ted went to the bar and listened. He heard it—the ship’s engines kept a rhythm, over and over again. It matched the beat of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and Ted began writing: “And that is a story that no one can beat, and to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.”

Dr. Seuss cartoon 3

From the extraordinarily surreal World War II editorial cartoons of Dr. Seuss

He finished the book six months later and started submitting it—personally—to children’s book publishers in NYC. The colorful palette and weird creatures filled the pages with creativity, but editors in New York didn’t agree. He was met with harsh criticism about the book being “too different” or “not teaching a moral.” Few picture books used rhyme back then. It seemed no one wanted to try something new. After the 27th rejection, Ted tucked his pages under his arm and started walking down Madison Avenue toward home. Then he heard someone call his name.

To think that I saw it on Mulberry Street

Mike McClintock, an old friend from Dartmouth, caught up with Ted and asked him what he was carrying. After Ted explained it was a children’s book manuscript and illustrations he intended to burn, Mike pointed at the building they were standing in front of. It was Vanguard Press, and Mike was an editor there. The two men went up the steps, showed the work to the publisher, and the rest, as they say, is history.

From Vanguard to Random House to becoming the president of the Beginner Books division there, Dr. Seuss broke old rules and opened the way for rhyming writers. His work at Random House brought in others who liked to rhyme, including Helen Palmer (his wife’s pseudonym), Jan and Stan Berenstain, P.D. Eastman, Robert Lopshire, Al Perkins, and others. (Seuss used the name “Theo LeSieg” for books he wrote but didn’t illustrate. “LeSieg” is “Geisel” spelled backwards.) Their books have sold (and continue to sell) millions of copies. Children have been delighted with the word play, the characters, the rhyme and rhythm for decades.

Learning about Ted Geisel as I researched his biography for Chelsea House made me fall in love with Dr. Seuss. I was a bit too old to have enjoyed his books as a child, but as a mother and a writer, I am grateful for his life, his talent, and his legacy. To me, it feels like this:

It’s okay to have fun,

To write stories that rhyme,

Because of a man

Who stands beyond time.

Whose books and weird art

Build a bridge in between

The things we imagine

And the things we have seen,

And a road with a future

Where young readers can meet

And to think that it started

On Mulberry Street.

—Tanya Anderson

P.S. Read all about him in Who Wrote That? Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) by Tanya Anderson, Chelsea House/Infobase Books, 2011. He was a hilarious character, and you’ll love reading about this life.



Tanya Anderson is an award-winning author and editor of books for young readers. She has worked for more than twenty years in various editorial functions for Pages Publishing Group, Guideposts for Teens, SRA/McGraw-Hill, Darby Creek Publishing, and School Street Media, her own business.

Anderson is the author of more than thirty books published in children’s and educational book markets. Her book, Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg, is a narrative nonfiction book for young readers. It received excellent reviews, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, and won the 2014 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Juvenile Nonfiction. Quindaro Press and Tanya are co-publishing the softcover edition of Tillie, coming out in May. Her next book, Gunpowder Girls: The True Stories of Three Civil War Tragedies will be available in September 2016.

Anderson lives in Springfield, Ohio, most of the year, but retreats to Palm Harbor, Florida, when it gets too cold. Her website is www.tanyaandersonbooks.com.

Tanya Anderson Book 2

Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) (Who Wrote That?)


Tanya Anderson Book 1






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You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings will be done daily and announced on Saturday of each week.




146 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 1 Tanya Anderson

    • It should! It’s also good to know he worked very hard on every book. Hard work eventually pays off! Keep it up, Maureen!

  1. What a start to RhyPiBiMO! Rhyme is not to write BUT easily criticized. What an inspirational reminder to persevere and write what we love. Thank you for this.

    • His full name was Theodor Seuss Geisel. It was actually pronounced “soice,” but folks at his publisher thought it should rhyme with Mother Goose, so it became “soose.” Fun facts!

  2. Thank you so much…what a way to kick off this year’s RhyPiBoMo. I ran my #50PreciousWords Contest in honor of Dr. Seuss, but I did not know a lot of this back story. Very illuminating…and super inspiring! (Vivian Kirkfield)

  3. The publishing world seems to have changed quite a bit. Thanks for the brief picture of Dr Seuss’s life. I want to get my hands on your book about him now! Jill Giesbrecht

  4. It’s always fun to read about Dr. Seuss and know the personal story that helped start his picture book story. Thank you so much,Tanya Anderson for opening the RhyPiBoMo door.
    Chris Clayson

  5. Thanks for this great start to RhyPiBoMo. I loved Dr Seuss as a child and I’m now reading his books to my own children. Great to know his history – and a bonus rhyme too! – Joy Main

  6. Thank you Angie and Tanya for getting the month started. What insight into Dr Seuss and his writing journey. I’m intrigued to read your biography on him. (Aimee Haburjak)

  7. Mona Pease
    Thanks, Angie and Tanya. What a great way to start the day. Theodor or Seuss whatever his name, He’s blasting us off on this month long game…Don’t mind me, I couldn’t help myself, I have covers with red and white striped hats sitting beside. I’ve read them once already this morning, but will “study” again. Tanya, thank you for sharing Theodor’s story.

  8. Natalie McNee
    The first time I read a Dr. Seuss story was to my then 4 year old (6 years ago) and I thought it was a very weird book and I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not (*shock* *horror* for a writer to admit this). Two years later we went to a local musical which was based on all of his stories and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We have only one of his books in the house but now I am intrigued to learn more about him, so thank you very much for the info Tanya (I’ll be sure to buy your book on him)

    • He was quite a character, Natalie. I’m sure you can find my book at your local library. (If not, tell them to buy it!) 🙂

  9. Poppy Wrote
    This will be a true challenge for me as I am not very good at rhyme.
    But I enjoy it tremendously and would love to get better at it. Great post (by the way my final exam in German was to translate something from English and I picked a Dr. Seuss book. Boy was it difficult).

    • Meine Güte! That had to have been quite a challenge. Doing rhyme right isn’t easy either, but it’s worth the effort. Carry on, Poppy!

  10. Rosemary Basham
    I ran across a video of him on that old tv show– I think it was called “What’s My Line” where three people try to fool the panel and they try to guess the real Dr. Seuss. Very cool!

  11. I love so many of Dr. Seuss’ books but I’ve also always loved hearing any biographical information about him I could gather. I can’t wait to read this book. This blog was great, Tanya. I work as a professor in a building on Mulberry St. I thought how great it would be to have a copy of that first book for that among many reasons!

  12. –Michele Blood–

    I always enjoy learning something new about revered children’s writers, and thanks to you, today I’ve learned several fascinating “somethings.” The poem at the end was the icing on the cake.

  13. I love that he heard the rhythm of his mother’s voice and that is what drove the rhyme. I sometimes get so caught up in the rhythm of a story I’m writing that I begin dreaming in rhyme! Thank you Tanya. – Chris Regier

  14. Thank you, Tanya! A perfect way to start off this exciting month. Dr. Seuss’s story of perseverance is so inspiring. I look forward to reading your book and of course to always reading more Dr. Seuss!
    — Melissa Stoller

  15. Such an interesting person and what fun to read snippets and “I never knew that” bits! Thank you Tanya for sharing your love of Dr. Seuss and giving us the wonderful behind the scenes of his career. He’s had such an influence in the field of children’s literature and his stories continue to entertain us today.

  16. This was an incredible post. Very inspirational and motivational to know that even Dr. Suess himself got rejected. Thank you Tanya for this post and sharing your wisdom with us. Nancy Mindo!

  17. Shirley Johnson
    I love reading about the authors of the books we love. This was a great way to start the month. Thanks Tanya for sharing.

  18. His work is so beloved and relevant today that it was surprising to think he started in the 20’s! Thanks Tanya for the history of this beloved author.
    Debbie Vidovich 🙂

  19. Heather B Moon
    Thank you Tanya for giving us the back story of Dr. Seuss. To be honest I’ve never really been a lover of his style but his books do appeal to the less able kids. What a lucky break for him to meet the editor outside the publishers! That’s what you call opportunity meets preparation.

    • It is a perfect example–one you can share with your kids. Word play is fun for all kids, and especially for those who are auditory learners.

  20. Debbie McCue
    Wonderful post, Tanya. Dr. Seuss has an interesting story. I’m looking forward to reading the biography (and the Tillie Pierce book is now on my reading list too).

  21. Lee Wardlaw – How the Grinch Stole Christmas was my favorite book in 2nd grade. I wrote six book reports on it, and would’ve written a seventh if my teacher hadn’t said: “Lee! Please read something else!” Sheesh. Teachers! Anywho, thanks, Tanya! What a treat!

  22. An interesting start to a rainy old day,
    Learning of Seuss and his exemplary word play.
    Knowing he struggled as a writer of rhyme,
    Should prove to us all that it’s no waste of time.

  23. And what if–as Seuss said himself–he’d been walking on the OTHER side of the street? 🙂 I think he’d have still succeeded, with a talent like that, but it pays to walk with your head up and listening!

    Thanks for a great beginning to RhyPiBoMo, Angie and Tanya!

  24. I grew up with Dr. Seuss and love this post. It is good to be reminded that even some of the most well-known writers faced rejection again and again and again.
    Linda Hofke

  25. Well, if we’re celebrating the Dr, then it’s time for me to re-read those favorites! I’ll be adding Seussian titles to my pile of books to read. Great kick-off post – thank you Tanya & Angie. (Sue Heavenrich)

  26. Helen Kemp Zax: So here’s the thing. I went to Dartmouth. I love to write rhyming, funny poetry for children. I’ve had lots of rejections—happily fewer for my poetry than my other work. My name, though not Ted, is Helen. How could I not decide to participate again this year after reading this first, informative blog post? Thank you!

  27. Arin Wensley
    I want to thank Taynya Anderson for writing this post on Dr Suess. Reading this post really inspires me to continue on writing even though the odds are stacked against me. Thank you!

  28. What a great start to this day! Thank you for the story on Dr. Seuss. It’s nice to hear a bit of background about him. Thanks again! Debbie Smart

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