Six books by Dr. Seuss will no longer be published due to their use of offensive images, according to the company that oversees the estate of the author and children’s illustrator.
In a statement Tuesday, Dr Seuss Enterprises said he decided last year to end the publication and licensing of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s books. Titles include his first book written under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, “And Thinking I Saw It On Mulberry Street” (1937) and “If I Run To The Zoo” (1950).
“These books portray people in hurtful and reprehensible ways,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises said in the statement. The company said the decision was made after working with a group of experts, including educators, and reviewing its catalog of titles.
Mr. Geisel, whose whimsical stories entertained millions of children and adults around the world, died in 1991. Other books that will no longer be published are “McElligot’s Pool”, “On Beyond Zebra!” “Great scrambled eggs!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”
Mr. Geisel’s stories are loved by fans for their rhymes and fantastic characters, but also for their positive values, such as taking responsibility for the planet. But in recent years, critics have said some of his works are racist and feature nefarious portrayals of certain groups.
In “And Thinking I Saw Him On Mulberry Street”, a character described as “a Chinese” has wrinkles in his eyes, wears a pointy hat, and carries chopsticks and a bowl of rice. (Editions published in the 1970s changed the reference from “a Chinese” to “a Chinese”.) In “If I Ran the Zoo”, two figures from “the African island of Yerka” are depicted as shirtless, without shoes and looking like monkeys. A school district in Virginia said over the weekend that it had advised schools not to focus on Dr Seuss’ books on “Read Across America Day,” a national literacy program that takes place every year on March 2, anniversary of the birth of Mr. Geisel. .
“Research in recent years has revealed strong racial overtones in many books written / illustrated by Dr Seuss,” according to the district statement, from Loudoun County Public Schools.
The decision to stop the publication of certain books by Dr Seuss makes it possible to re-launch a debate on classic children’s titles which do not positively represent minority groups. In France, the latest in a beloved comic book series, Lucky Luke, features a black hero and a narrative that reinvents the role of the cowboy, sparking criticism that the book was giving way to an obsession with American inspiration for the breed.
Before becoming a giant in children’s literature, Mr. Geisel drew political cartoons for a New York-based newspaper, PM, from 1941 to 1943, including some who used harmful stereotypes to caricature Japanese and Japanese- Americans. Decades later, he said he was embarrassed by the cartoons, which he said were “full of instant judgments that any political cartoonist must make.”
Random House Children’s Books, which publishes Dr Seuss’ books, did not respond to a request for comment.