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!!
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!
Author/Editor Tanya Anderson
A Tribute to Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss)
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) (Who Wrote That?)
TILLIE PIERCE: TEEN EYEWITNESS TO THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
THANK YOU TANYA!
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146 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 1 Tanya Anderson”
Thank you, Tanya, for sharing the rejections and flack incurred by Dr. Seuss! He is one of my heroes and an inspiration 🙂
What a wonderful tribute to Dr. Seuss! Thank you Tanya for your touching and inspiring post.
Loved the poem! Interesting article. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Thanks, Jess! I enjoy writing in rhyme, so I do it from time to time. 🙂
What an inspiring story, Tanya! I knew Mulberry Street had been rejected many, many times, but had never heard how the manuscript finally came to be published. Right manuscript, right editor, right time. Patricia Toht
Jean James. I really enjoyed this post, of Dr. Suess’ biography, it is a great reminder that rejection can be followed by success with perseverance and a little luck. I think your book Tillie Pierce: Teen Eyewitness to the Battle of Gettysburg would be a perfect read for my daughter!
Perseverance is the key to success in most things, but especially in writing.
The Tillie book is coming out in paperback in May. If you want, you can preorder it here: https://www.quindaropress.com/product/tillie-pierce-teen-eyewitness-to-the-battle-of-gettysburg-preorder-now/
I hope your daughter likes it!
Janet Smart. Great post. I love Dr. Suess. The Battle of Gettysburg book sounds like a good one to read.
I’m from Indonesia.
Reading on the local library since I was kids.
Now I’m writing my own children’s picture book.
Couldn’t love more Dr. Seuss’ books.
Perfect rhyme, period.
Now I’m honing my rhyming skills and thanks to Angie Karcher for awesome RhyPiBoMo!
Kristi Veitenheimer – Off to a great start, Angie!! Perfect honoree this year.
Judy Cooper – Excellent post! I love learning about successful authors who persevered in the face of repeated rejections. Thank you, Tanya.
Laura Renauld. Dr. Seuss is as inspiring as his fantastical characters. Thanks for sharing his submission story.
LYNNE MARIE (PISANO): I enjoyed hearing this story — how inspiring! Thanks for sharing, Tanya and thanks for the book recommendation.
Jill Proctor – Thank you, Tanya, for sharing Ted’s story. I look forward to reading his biography. Perseverance is my word of the day. Thanks!
Melinda Kinsman – Thanks for sharing, Tanya. Interesting to hear a bit about the man behind our much-loved Dr. Seuss books.❤️
YAY, Angie, it’s DAY 1, and we’re off to great start!! 😊❤️
What an inspiring way to start the month! Thanks!
Sydney O’Neill – I hadn’t known this history. Thank you, Tanya. Enjoyed your poem!
It staggering to think how luck plays such a huge part in this business. Even for someone as talented as Theodore Geisel. Think if his Dartmouth friend hadn’t been there! –Wendy Greenley
Ellen Leventhal. Great way to start the month. And that’s no joke! 🙂 Thank you!
Dr. Seuss is a master of fun rhyme, which is something I could definitely use work on. Thanks, Angie and Tanya, for getting us off to a fabulous start this month. Looking forward to the “fun” 🙂
Thank you Angie, for all your work prepping for this challenge. Thank you Tanya, for your inspiring and encouraging post. Those of us who are pre-pubbers, can maintain hope when authors like Dr. Seuss (or Jane Yolen or JK Rowling) received rejections+ on their manuscripts! Just keep saying “I can do this” and you will!
Daryl Gottier- Thanks for kicking of the month with an inspiring story!
Well, what a lovely way to begin…learning more about Dr. Seuss, and connecting with someone else who has called Springfield, Ohio home. I grew up in Springfield township and my father still lives there. I’ll be heading there to visit him this weekend.
Wow! What a small world! I attended and taught at Shawnee High School. Did you go there, too?
Yes! I graduated in 1976.
I graduated in 1975! Tanya West. What was your maiden name?
Sounds familiar. My brother, Bob Zimmers, was in that year but ended up at Southeastern.
Up home with my dad today and I got out my old yearbooks. Found you!
What an encouranging post especially when we feel ready to burn or self-reject our own creativity! Thank you Tanya for reminding me thru Dr,Seuss that we should never give up!
And that fact is truer than true! Never ever give up.
Anita Jones–I just love this!! Thanks Tanya for the interesting history behind Theodor Geisel! I had heard some of the story, ie; as the many rejections he had for this story, but your background information was great! I also found it interesting that he used the name, Theo LeSieg for other works! I enjoyed reading this very much! Thanks again Tanya
That’s why I’m here–love to share facts about people whom we all love!
Melanie Ellsworth – Thank you, Tanya. I love the story about how the ship engine’s rhythm inspired the meter for one of Dr. Seuss’ books. A good reminder to us to keep our ears open! I’m certainly glad that Dr. Seuss pushed past the many rejections and gave the world all those wonderful stories. Thank you for your books, too!
You’re so welcome, Melanie! We’re all here to encourage each other.
It’s interesting to hear the story behind the author that everyone knows. A great way to kick off the month! Thank you.
While I’ve always loved Dr. Seuss, I knew very little about this history. This was a fascinating read! Thanks, Tanya!
You’re welcome, Rebecca!
Thanks so much, Tanya, for the incredible post. I have always been intrigued by the author, himself, and fascinated by his work – the wacky and wild illustrations, the incredible rhyme and meter, and the timeless themes. There is so much more to those cherished books than most people think!
You’re so welcome! It’s important to know how hard successful writers have had to work to get published. Persevere!
Thanks Tanya. Dr. Seuss is a great author to start off the month for us!
Such an interesting post. So much I didn’t know. Thank you!! Kristen Foote
And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street is my favorite rhyming picture book of all time! What a great way to introduce RhyPiBoMo 2016! Thanks, Tanya!
I love Dr. Seuss! Reading your post and learning how difficult it was for him when he first began writing children’s books is a lesson in tenacity and encouraging for those of us who have yet to be published. I love your post and look forward to reading your books and getting to know you as an author.
I love Dr. Seuss! I even bought one of his books at a thrift store today! Debbie Lubbert
Enjoyed the post! Thank you, Tanya!
Thanks, Tanya! Great poem! Always loved Dr. Seuss but never knew he was the father of rhyming picture books. Great post to get us started! 🙂
Thank you Tanya – so inspirational!! I loved reading Dr. Seuss – but “The Cat in the Hat” used to be a little creepy to me as a child.
Thanks, Tanya, for the great summary of Geisel’s life — and your wonderful original poem. Dr. Suess is an inspiration in so many ways.
This was one of the most inspiring posts I have ever read. Reading this gave me goosebumps! Thank you, Tanja!
Thanks for the post. A lot of things that I didn’t know.
Thank you, Tanya, for your post. Dr. Seuss is such an inspiration. I’m using all the books my class read during Dr. Seuss week to encourage them to create their own poems next week!
Thanks Tanya for reminding me of Dr. Seuss’ story.
Great post. Thanks Tanya! I grew up reading Dr. Seuss. My next door neighbor had the whole collection of books. I only owned The Cat in the Hat but I treasured that book so much. I still have it.
I have read many biographies about Seuss but I never really thought of him as an rhyming innovator paving the way for others like Stan and Jan Berenstain before! Or us! Wow!
As a tribute to Seuss, I wrote my latest manuscript. Please see:
Thankyou for the wonderful research.
Probably many of us tried to imitate Dr. Seuss’ rhyming at one time. Thanks for this interesting article.
Lynn Alpert. Thanks for the primo primer on the most famous rhymer!
Amy Murrell. I just listened to a You Tube reading of To Think… I had never read or heard it before. The tall tale was quite funny. This blog is great. Personal insights into writing greats are always interesting to me. Thanks!
I’m commenting again because my first comment never posted. I so enjoyed this look at Dr. Seuss’s life. Thank you, Tanya. I’d love to read your biography of him!
So sorry we missed that first posting, Katelyn! Thanks for coming back. I’ll bet you can find my bio of Dr. Seuss at your local library! Keep up the good work—oh, the thinks you can think!
Kirsti Call: I loved learning about Dr. Suess and his writing journey!
Tanja Bauerle – Splendid post! I had no idea that Mr Geisel had to deal with rejections himself. I feel inspired and ready to go. 🙂 T
Sarah Harroff – Thank you for the introduction, Tanya! And what a lovely poem by which to honor the man. I can’t wait to read your book. 🙂
Thank you, Sarah! I hope you find time to rhyme this month!