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Legacy of Dr Seuss lives on with author

By Jessie Moniz Hardy

 

If you’ve read Dr Seuss, you know Tish Rabe. She’s written or adapted the late author’s books since 1996.

Her popular Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go! is part of The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library, a series of non-fiction science books for early readers.

 

The 64-year-old will be in Bermuda this month to read for the Bermuda National Library.

As a child, she loved Dr Seuss books. She never imagined she’d one day follow in the great author’s footsteps. “I was a huge fan,” she said. “My mother used to read to me; that was back when the Cat in the Hat was first published in 1957.”

 

She never imagined that one day she would be following in the great author’s footsteps. Random House hired her to continue Dr Seuss’s legacy after she proposed a rhyming children’s science book in 1995.

“Dr Seuss died in 1991,” said Ms Rabe. “To be following in his footsteps was very exciting, but also very intimidating.” Copying Dr Seuss’s style wasn’t as easy as she’d imagined. “To get the rhythm he is famous for was super challenging at first,” she said. “Now, I am so used to it as I have been doing it for almost 20 years [but] I was super nervous when I started.”

 

Books for Sesame Street, Disney, Blue’s Clues, Curious George and Huff and Puff are among Ms Rabe’s 165 published works. “They have done very, very well,” she said. “They are great for children because the rhyme can help some children hold on to the facts more easily. One of my favourite lines is: ‘When birds want to go on a winter vacation, they all take a trip, and they call it migration’.” All the books are vetted by scientists to ensure accuracy. She is most proud of Oh, The Things You Can Do That Are Good for You: All About Staying Healthy. Michelle Obama contributed 16 pages to the book, and read it to children at the White House in January.

“That was really exciting,” she said.

 

Ms. Rabe didn’t start out her career as a writer, but as a singer. She left her home in Connecticut to forge a career in New York in the 1970s. “I landed a job on Sesame Street in the music production department.”

In 1983, she produced the movie Big Bird in China for Sesame Street, and was producing the children’s science show, 3-2-1 Contact, when she pitched a book to Sesame Street’s publishing arm. Her first book, Bert and the Broken Teapot, was published in 1985.

 

Thirty years on, she still enjoys the process.

 

“Every book is a challenge,” she said. “With each one, I try to come up with new and creative ideas. I think about what the children are going to learn from the book and what is going to involve them.

 

“What I have found is the importance of heart. Young readers really have to emotionally connect with the characters.” She loves getting messages from her young fans. She tries to answer all of them.

“Usually, they just write to me telling me they just read one of my books and really liked it,” she said.

Two of her biggest fans are her young grandsons. “It’s a joy to read my books to them,” she said. “They both love my book Love You, Hug You, Read to You and have fun answering the questions on each page.”

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