, ,

This post was edited to include a missing book from the list and modify the text to make sure that book was included.

This is my insight into the corporate exercise of the free-market decision to stop publishing certain books. The 6 books are “And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street” pub 1937, “McElligot’s pool” pub 1947, “If I ran the zoo” pub 1950, “Scrambled Eggs Super!” pub 1953, “On Beyond Zebra” pub 1955, and “The Cat’s Quizzer” pub 1976.

If you read the linked story (t.ly/zp5n) you will read about Dr. Seuss’s (Theodor Seuss Geisel) history as an editorial cartoonist and the cartoons he wrote in support of the war effort in WWII, and some of his published statements that were clearly anti-Japanese. He seemed to come to a better understanding after visiting Japan in 1953, and wrote “Horton Hears a Who” which was published in 1954.

All but one of these books being removed from publication came from before that trip. The one published in 1953 was clearly written before then. Books take a while to be published after the writing. “On Beyond Zebra”, published in 1955, wasn’t very clear as what could have been offensive, although speculation is toward a character who may have been a Middle Eastern stereotype. It also was likely written or in process before the 1953 trip so may not have been edited with that new understanding. The last book on the list was published significantly afterward and contains an image harkening back to Dr. Seuss’s anti-Japanese stance with a picture of an unflattering stereotype. The text is not necessarily in question, just the image. This last book is one that I feel could have been updated and edited to use a different image and phrasing there. But perhaps the copyright owners felt it better to simply remove it from further circulation.

I have read all of them. In light of the entirety of his body of work, these aren’t his best work. They weren’t about the lessons that so many of us got through most of his post 1953 works. The company is making a free market decision. There were no petitions. There is no “cancel culture” going on. It is capitalism responding to the markets and their own corporate conscience. That is how it is supposed to work.