Skip to main content

Next year will see the publication of several new books based on sketches by Dr. Seuss, which will be written and illustrated by an inclusive group of up-and-coming creators. 

The news was announced on the birthday of the late Theodor Seuss Geisel by the Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that owns the intellectual property rights to his work and which partners with Random House to publish his books. 

Doctor Seuss Lead JS

The illustrations, which include a catlike creature with enormous ears and a series of colorful hummingbirds with pointy noses, were taken from Geisel’s archives at the University of California San Diego.

Further information on which creators have been selected or what the titles might be were not yet available, and are presumably still being worked out. The books will be published by Random House Children’s Books under the banner Seuss Studios.

“We look forward to putting the spotlight on a new generation of talent who we know will bring their unique voices and style to the page, while also drawing inspiration from the creativity and imagination of Dr. Seuss,” Susan Brandt, president and CEO of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, said in a statement.

The Seuss Estate Addresses Controversy

This publishing innovative comes one year after Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced it would discontinue publishing six Dr. Seuss titles because they included racist and insensitive images.

That included the book “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” which contained a stereotypical caricature of an of Asian person wearing a dǒulì on his head and eating rice out of a bowl. 

“If I Ran the Zoo” included a stereotypical caricature of two bare-footed African men with grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads. 

The titles “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” were also pulled.

Still, criticism has grown online for years, reaching a breaking point during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, that Geisel had a tendency to draw people of color in stereotypical ways. 

He often drew Black people as cannibals or monkeys, and referred to Japanese people as a racial slur in his work, as well as in the advertisements he drew earlier in his career. 

The National Education Association had started Read Across America Day in 1998 on Geisel’s birthday, but in recent years has begun deemphasizing Seuss and promoting a more diverse reading list for children.

The move to pull the books was met with a reaction indicative our polarized and highly partisan nature of modern society. 

It was especially fraught at the intersection between popular culture and ongoing attempts towards contextualizing previous generations’ racial insensitivity. 

Some commenters praised the move as overdue. Many people were unaware there was an issue to begin with. 

Fox News and right-wing commentators viewed it as an attempt to “cancel” Dr. Seuss, even as comedians like John Oliver pointed out the televised segmented criticizing the move never actually showed the offensive images, which is a telling move. 

Then there were some explained that Dr. Seuss had a complicated legacy as an artist, one who created racist images, but who also drew cartoons that criticized Jim Crow laws and the policies of Nazi Germany, and whose work "Horton Hears a Who!" is viewed by scholars as his apology for his earlier racist work.

IP is Everything

The vast majority of Dr. Seuss' works remain in print, and according to Forbes, his estate made $35 million in 2021, making him the fifth-highest paid deceased celebrity of the year. 

This move to more inclusivity is a new way to fix a public image issue, or at least create a new story for people to pay attention to.

In the modern media landscape, well-known, established intellectual property is both hard to find and more important than ever — this weekend will see the third live-action iteration of Batman in a decade, after all. 

So if there are more drawings available in Dr. Seuss’s archives, then more Dr.Seuss titles will be forthcoming over the years.