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'The Bippolo Seed': The 'Lost' Dr. Seuss Stories

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'The Bippolo Seed': The 'Lost' Dr. Seuss Stories


'The Bippolo Seed': The 'Lost' Dr. Seuss Stories

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Every now and then, a treasure-trove of seemingly lost literature is discovered. The latest find is a collection of stories by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Seuss scholars and collectors have known about these stories for a while and this fall, Random House will publish them.

Here's NPR's Lynn Neary.

LYNN NEARY: Before going any further, let's address the question of whether these stories were ever really lost. Random House children's book publisher Kate Klimo says...

BLOCK: No. Shucks. Nothing is really ever lost in this day and age.

NEARY: Maybe scattered would be a better way to describe it. You see, these are not some half-written stories found in a dusty attic after the death of the author. These are stories that have already been published. Dr. Charles Cohen managed to collect them in one place.

D: They came out in the '50s in magazines. And then when the next month's magazine would come in, people would throw away the old one, and those stories were forgotten. And literally, it's been 60 years or so for some of these stories - and very few people have ever seen them.

NEARY: A dentist by day, Cohen's real passion is Dr. Seuss. While doing research on the children's book author, Cohen began tracking down original copies of the stories. But he needed a way to support his habit.

D: I would find some of these magazines that these appeared in. I'd purchase it on eBay for $2 or $5 from people who didn't know that they had these Dr. Seuss stories in them. And then I would list them on eBay, and explain what they were. So a $5 magazine might bring in $200 or $400, and that was a great mark-up for me.

NEARY: A Random House art director who worked on the Dr. Seuss books saw some of these items for sale on eBay, and began wondering about them. Kate Klimo says they decided to look up this Seuss-obsessed dentist in Massachusetts.

BLOCK: We took a field trip up there to his house, and discovered that he not only had magazines, but he had beer trays and stuffed animals and figurines - and all kinds of stuff. And his knowledge about it was encyclopedic.

NEARY: Random House commissioned Cohen to write his own book about Dr. Seuss, and that sidetracked them from publishing the stories until now.

P: This is Dr. Seuss before his name is synonymous with children's literature. This is Dr. Seuss before we knew him well.

NEARY: Philip Nel is a children's literature professor at Kansas State University. He says the new book, "The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories," includes seven stories - some stronger than others, but all equally fascinating.

P: Even the slight stories are interesting. You know, it's like finding a bunch of lost one-act plays by Shakespeare. They may be minor works, but they're the minor works of a genius so they're still interesting.

NEARY: In these stories, says Nel, you see themes and character traits that will become more fully realized in later works. And, he says, you can hear the unmistakable rhymes that are so characteristic of the best-known Dr. Seuss books.

P: (Reading) Then it sank in the river and drifted away, and that cat and that duck, all the rest of the day dived deep in that river, but never did see a trace of the seed of the Bippolo tree.

NEARY: Charles Cohen is thrilled that these stories will finally be available to the public. He has only one regret.

D: That's the one thing that was disappointing - is to have read all of these stories, enjoyed all of them, and discovered that these are as good as the things that people already know about. But then thinking, but have I done it all? Am I not going to be able to find any new Seuss stories?

NEARY: If they're out there, chances are Cohen will find them.

Lynn Neary, NPR News, Washington.

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