Dr. Seuss’ And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street

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Dr. Seuss’ And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street

The story of how a stupid horse and a wagon on Mulberry Street grows into a story that no one can beat.

The adventure of Marco, and the things that he saw on Mulberry Street, began during the summer of 1936. Ted and Helen set sail for Europe aboard the new luxury liner, the M.S. Kungsholm. Ted, finding it impossible to settle while a summer storm hammered the ship, strode from one Kungsholm bar to another. While sipping on vodka on the rocks, he took a piece of stationery and started scribbling a rambling plot that began with “a stupid horse and wagon.”

As the ship plowed the sea for eight days, the chugging rhythm of its engines reverberated in Ted’s head: Da-da-DA-da-da-DUM-DUM, da-DA-da-da-DUM (Morgan, 80). Even after the Kungsholm had been docked for days, this rhythm was still stuck in his head. Taking Helen’s suggestion, he set out to develop a story around the rhythm, using the shipboard notes that began with “a stupid horse and a wagon (Morgan, 81).

After six months of questioning every word, Ted began showing the book to publishers under the title A Story That No One Can Beat. Twenty seven publishing houses rejected A Story That No One Can Beat during the winter of 1936-37 (Morgan, 81).

On the day of his 27th rejection, Ted ran into an old Dartmouth friend, Mike McClintock. Mike had just became the new juvenile editor of Vanguard Press and offered to look at Ted’s book.

James Henle, the president of Vanguard Press, agreed to publish the book. “But,” he said, “You’ve got to give me a snappier title.” Ted offered one that many considered unlikelier still: And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street (Morgan, 82). And with that, Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book, And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was published by Vanguard Press in 1937.

As his grateful homage to luck, Ted gave the name of McClintock’s son Marco to the storyteller of Mulberry Street, and dedicated this first book to McClintock’s wife, Helene (Morgan 82).

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