Student Name: Sarah MacDonald Thematic Instruction
Biography/Autobiography Independent Reading:
Bring your book every day with you to T.I., starting Thursday, May 3, 2012. Thank you.
SIGNATURES DUE: Thursday, May 3, 2012
FINAL PROJECT DUE DATE: Thursday, May 31, 2012
1. _____________________ [Signed after you have read both pages.]
2. _____________________ [Signed after par./guard has read two pages.]
3. Titleof Biography or Autobiography: ___________________________
4. Author’sName: _____________________________________________
5. Number ofTotalPagesin the Book:____________
6. Page Number You Are “Up to” as of 5/2/12: ____________ OR
7. I have finished the book. [Circle the sentence at left if it is true.]
8. Format and Style
I understand that …
I can use the attached organizer/questions template to take notes.
I understand that I will answer the questions and I will write follow-up questions, as indicated,
and answer those questions.
A follow-up question is defined as a question that “probes” an issue or fact or comment that was
just mentioned by the interviewee subject.
The information in the interview will be based on facts and information in the biography or
autobiography, and in additional sources.
I must follow the style set forth in the attached organizer template.
An electronic copy of the fill-in-the-blank interview will be available via e-mail to students and
on Mr. Baskin’s Humanities Digital Classroom wiki. Or students may get a copy saved to a
The project may be either typed and printed out with a computer printer or neatly handwritten in
Name: Sarah MacDonald Thematic Instruction
Date: May 3, 2012 6-C
Subject’s [Person’s] Full Name: Theodor Seuss Geisel
Full Title of Autobiography or Biography (Underlined): Dr. Seuss Best-Loved Author
Title(s) of Secondary Sources [If internet source, list the title of the site AND provide the exact URL
Author’s Name: Carin T Ford
Transcript of Interview
[Word-for-word print record of conversation or interview;
DELETE LINES IF YOU WILL DO THIS ON COMPUTER, WHICH IS PREFERRED BY
Q: What is your name?
My name is Theodor Seuss Geisel also known as Dr. Seuss
Q: When were you born, and where? If you are no longer alive, when and
where did you die? What are the circumstances of your death?
A: I was born March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. I died at the age 87 on
September 24, 1991. The circumstance of my death is because I died of old age
besides the fact that I had been smoking for quite a while.
Q: Do you know anything significant about the life of your ancestors or your
My Parents names were Theodor and Henrietta Geisel. My grandfather had sailed
to America from Germany in the 1860s. In America my grandfather ran a brewery,
where alcoholic drinks were made it was called Kalmbach and Geisel but was
referred as Come back and guzzle. My grandfather on my mother’s side of the
family had immigrated from southern Germany. They ran a bakery in Springfield
and my mother worked there.
Q: What can you tell us about your childhood? Where did you grow up, and
what was your childhood like?
My Childhood was very lovely. Because my mother always wanted to go to
college but couldn’t because she was needed at the bakery the second best thing
was to send my sister and I to go to college. So every day before we fell asleep my
mother would read to us often my sister and I fell asleep to the sound of her voice
reading us to sleep. My Father had been an expert marksman when he was
younger; he had a target from on of his competitions with holes piercing the bull’s
eye. I had it framed and kept it near me all my life this helped remind me during
my career to reach for excellence and perfection. During my Childhood I
especially enjoyed going to Forest Park which was close to my house it had large
hills and ponds. Best of all I loved going to the zoo in Forest Park I often had my
sketchbook with me because I loved taking features off of one animal and putting
them on another animal. For example, in my sketches tigers usually had wings and
giraffes appeared with elephant wings.
Q: Where else did you live during your lifetime? Please describe that.
A: In my Childhood (since I was born to graduating High School) I have lived in
Springfield but when I went to college I lived in Dartmouth which is still only 4
hours away from Springfield. After college I traveled around the world going to
France, Germany, and Switzerland. Right after Helen and I were married I knew I
had to go back to college so I applied to Sorbonne University in Paris, France. I
had also went to Corsica, Italy were I spent lots of hours roaming the streets of
Italy and sketching animals, particularly donkeys.
Q: What can you tell us about your education? For example, where did you go
to school? High school? Did you go to college? Where? Describe that, please.
A: My education in general had its up and downs in life. After I graduated from
High School I still had some choices to make, for example, I had to choose what
college I wanted to attend to in the fall. So in the end I ended up choosing
Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. It was the same college Red
Smith had graduated from who I greatly admired because of his spunk and
excitement. But after only a couple of months into the school year I realized that
this school just wasn’t for me the only thing that I enjoyed was working on the
school newspaper called the Jack-O-Lantern I loved creating the cartoons for the
magazine. After he graduated Dartmouth I left for a couple of months off then was
right back to college except attending Lincoln College which was a part of Oxford
University I had hopes of becoming a college professor. Even though I was
attending a highly prestigious college, none of the courses that he took in English
literature was a great interest to him so after a little while after Helen and I had met
I left and went to Europe to study history and maybe to find something else to do.
Follow-up question: What part did you take in writing the Jack-O-lantern?
A: While I was in College I created cartoons for the Jack-o-lantern which allowed
me to combine my love of drawing and writing.
Q: Please tell us something about yourself now, as an adult. Are you married?
Do you have any children?
A: Now as an adult I am a very famous children’s author. For example, I have now
written tons of children’s books, some you might be familiar with. The Lorax for
example was a book that I had written, which was by far my favorite book to write
because it was so easy and fun. I also liked it because it had a very important
lesson in it which was to save our environment. Horton hears a Who was also one
of be favorite books to write even though I was always aiming for perfection it was
very hard to write. For example, I must of changed this sentence so many times.
First it was “had plucked nineteen thousand four hundred and five.” then it was
“had piled up twelve thousand nine hundred and five,” then lastly I wrote “had
picked, searched and piled up, nine thousand and five.” What I saw on Mulberry
Street which is about a young guy named Marco who wants to have something
interesting to tell is father about what he saw in Mulberry Street when walking
home. But he only saw a horse pulling a wagon but he changes it and says that he
saw a zebra pulling the carriage not long after that the zebra changes to a reindeer
which changes to a big blue elephant. By the time Marco has returned home he has
added a big brass band and an airplane dropping confetti bombs and a magician
pulling rabbits from his hat. Yet when Marco sees his father he has a change of
heart and only tells his father that he saw a horse pulling a wagon on Mulberry
Street. I now am married to Helen Palmer and we have no children I never liked
children and I think that they are very hard to understand. I only communicate with
children in writing as proof, I write books for kids such as the book The Cat in the
Q: Was there someone during your life that was especially influential upon
you? What I mean is, was there someone who had a good, or perhaps, a bad
effect upon you? Please explain.
A: Mostly my entire childhood was quite pleasant except for this one incident that
will haunt me forever in my lifetime. I was in a boy-scout troop when I was a kid
and because it was 1918 and the united States were fighting in World War I. The
U.S was fighting Germany. In boy scouts we were having a fund-raiser to selling
war-bonds, and we learned that my troop was one of the top ten sellers of war
bonds we were to receive special medals from the former president Theodore
Roosevelt but because I was standing at the end of the line president Roosevelt had
run out of medals. So he had asked me very loudly what I was doing their in public
so I was embarrassed and humiliated so from that day on, and was always terrified
to appear in public.
Follow-up question: How did this affect your life afterwards?
A: This painful incident affected me by never wanting to talk or make speeches to
lots of people in public. This conflicted my life one day after I was done with
college and was looking to get a steady income from a job. This included going to
an interview and saying a speech to everyone in the crowd about what I could do to
help this company and why I should be hired. This interview didn’t go so well
considering that I didn’t even go; instead I went to a nearby book store and
browsed for books.
Q: What are the chief accomplishments of your life? Of what
accomplishments are you most proud?
One of my best accomplishments is when I finished the book the Cat and the Hat
this book by far was the most difficult book to write but I was so proud when it got
good reviews, and when it was published. One evening William Spaulding,
director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin publishers called begging
me to right a book for beginner readers as soon as I accepted the challenge William
gave me three lists one with 220 with words on it that young readers to recognize
like words such as cat and hat. The next list contained 220 words that a beginning
reader might not have encountered but will be able to sound out words like tall,
book, cake, rake. Then lastly the final list was composed with 220 words that a
young reader have not seen before but will likely be able to understand with a little
of help with words like kick, beat, and fear.
A: Follow-up question: How long did it take you to finish the book The Cat in
A: The book the Cat in the Hat was a very frustrating book to write; often I would
throw the manuscript across the room in frustration. But as a perfectionist I would
not stop until it was perfect even though the manuscript that I thought was going to
take three weeks to complete really took about a year and a half to finish.
Q: If you could live your life over again, what action that you took during
your life would you change? Or, would you change nothing? Either way,
please explain your answer.
A: If I could live my life over again I would change what happened to my mother.
I would change how my mother died, by trying to do more to help her and
spending more time with her in her final days. My mother was very ill and often
had very big headaches I thought it was just a phase of old age so I didn’t worry
and by the time I took her to the hospital it was too late and my mother Henrietta
Geisel later in the week died because of a brain tumor. If I could just go back in
time I would have spent more time with her because I didn’t realized how much
she meant to me until she was gone.
Follow-up question: In what way did Henrietta show how much she meant to
A: My mother was a very hard worker and was always encouraging me in
whatever interest I had in life. For example, because I loved to draw so much on
rainy afternoons I would climb up to the attic in my house and draw animals on the
walls. But instead of scolding me she would consistently praise and encourage
everything that I would do, Always she would say “everything you do is good just
stick with it and you’ll go far.”
Q: I know this is a hard question, but how is the world today different because
of your life or achievements?
A: Today would be a very different day if my life achievements were not made.
This is true because before I was a writer and at the beginning of my career most
publishing centers did not was to take the risk of publishing a book that was so
different from all of the other books in libraries and bookstores. My books were a
very unique combination of fantasy and rhyme everyone else wanted or was used
to having children books that had a good moral or meaning or lesson to it. That
was the total opposite of my books that I wanted to publish, my books were fun
children stories. As you can see if I hadn’t published books that were fun for
children to read the world would be such a different place to live in.
Follow-up question: Couldn’t Answer
Q: Do you feel that your life was, or has been, a success or a failure? Why?
A: My life in fairness had its ups and downs. But I think that overall my life was
pretty successful. To begin with, I did publish lots of children’s books such as To
think I saw it on Mulberry Street, The Lorax, The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch who
stole Christmas and much more. I am also one of the best loved author in the world
so that should answer your question if you think my life has been successful or not.
Follow-up question: What downs have you had in your life?
A: Well my life just like anyone else has had its ups and downs. For example, one
down is when I wanted to publish my first book called A Story that no One can
Beat, but unfortunately the publishing world did not agree with my book because
they were not used to the combination of Fantasy and Rhyme so in total 29
publishers rejected the book. That was one of my downs in life because no one
wanted to publish my book.
Q: I wonder if you can give advice to our listeners. Do you have any wise
guidance or sage advice on life or living or the world?
A: Yes, I would just like to say that when you grow up some people will tell you
that some things in life are impossible and that it’s not worth getting your hopes up
high if they aren’t going to come true. But I believe that if you want or believe that
you can do something then you can do it. Take me for an example, once in art class
while working on a picture I turned my painting upside down and continued
working on it in that perspective. My art teacher told me that a true artist would
never ever turn his painting upside down. Then the art teacher told me that I had no
artistic talent. But look were art got me know so as you can see anything is
Follow-up question: Were you upset when the art teacher said that to you
what did you do?
A: When the art teacher told me that I had to makings to become a true artist I told
her to watch my career and see what I will do then I walked out slamming the door
in her face. The only reason I went on to become an artist is to prove that teacher
Thank you very much for your time.