It's Dr. Suess's birthday and I can't let the day pass without sending a tip of my (cat in the) hat his way. Suess has a special place in my heart because it's thanks to him that I learned to read. The first book I ever made it through on my own was Green Eggs and Ham, a feat that I'm sure I owe entirely to the fact that I memorized the darn thing after making my mom read it to me again and again and again (a ritual my own child is currently forcing on me). The clever, simple rhymes were easily remembered by my pea-sized toddler brain, though, and I quickly figured out how to match the sounds in my head with the squiggles on the page. Thus began my life long love affair with the printed word.
But did you know that Dr. Suess also has a World War II connection? Around the time he first started writing and illustrating whimsical children's books (and getting rejected for them), he was also working as a political cartoonist skewing the Third Reich, giving Roosevelt his props, encouraging people to buy war bonds, and lamenting racism against Jews and African Americans on the homefront (while being decidedly less kind to Japanese Americans). He also wrote U.S. propaganda and training films while serving in the Army, one of which became the basis for Our Job in Japan, the documentary he wrote that went on to win him in Academy Award in 1947.
Here's one of his short propaganda films, Our Job in Germany.