Look at our bookshelves!
One, two three…
How many Seuss books
Do I see?
How can it be that our family owns only eight of his classics, not counting poetry within other children’s anthologies or the duplicate, dog-eared copies of The Cat in The Hat? He wrote 40+ books in his lifetime, and the work of Theodor Seuss Geisel is ingrained in the English lexicon. Still, we take Dr. Seuss’ contributions for granted ‘ever so muchly’ that most of us pronounce his name incorrectly. Geisel’s mother’s German maiden name Seuss actually rhymes with “voice”, not “use” (as in, “the Simplest Seuss for youngest use”). It’s rumored that he didn’t mind, due to the sound-alike quality of ‘Seuss’ to children’s author Mother Goose. In any case, the ultimate Seuss-ism could be naming one’s child in homage to him. Here is a nearly-exhaustive list of Seuss names…
Harris (Tweed): A handwoven Scottish cloth that is fit for a suit, and a tongue-in-cheek name from the poem Too Many Daves. Harris hits a sweet spot between the patronymic surname-name Harrison and the laid-back Harry, though. And I’d much rather be Harris Tweed than Dave McCave or Oliver Boliver Butt.
Max: The pup in How the Grinch Stole Christmas has what is now a quintessential dog’s name. A better dog name might be Roover, the name of the Doubt-trout-containing river in Seuss’ What Was I Scared of? Another Grinch character and foil to the sneaky protagonist is young Cindy-Lou (Who); if ever a name-check were Seussian with its alliteration, rhyme, rhythm, and meter, it’d be “Little Cindy-Lou Who, who was not more than two.” And speaking of ingénue names, a boat called Mary Lou is sunk and rescued again in Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!
Sam (Green Eggs and Ham): This friendly nickname is much more wearable than Horton (…Hears a Who) or Thidwick (…The Big-Hearted Moose). Monosyllabic names are found in abundance in Hop on Pop: Pat, Jim, Will, Red (in bed, along with Ned, Ted, and Ed), as well as Fox in Socks: Sue, Slow Joe Crow, broom-abusing brothers Bim and Ben, and Luke Luck. Mike the bike-pushing brute (in One Fish, Two Fish…), Jack, Fred, Joe, Nat, Jane (And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street) and Jake the turtle (Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!) round out the list.
Theo: Theo LeSieg—LeSieg is ‘Geisel’ backwards—was one of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s pen names, along with aliases Dr. Seuss and Dr. Theophrastus Seuss. The association with Seuss takes Theo away from The Cosby Show territory. Theodor is the German form of Theodore; Theophrastus the Ancient Greek philosopher asserted that “life is ruled by fortune, not wisdom.” Rosetta Stone was a particularly gorgeous name under which Geisel submitted work, and he also went by Peter Pessimist and the acidic “Theophilus Seuss, Ph.D., I.Q., H2SO4.” Theophilus is a Colonial-era name meaning “friend of God.”
Knox: This canine figure appears at the beginning of Fox in Socks. A girl named Nixie Knox also makes an appearance in Dr. Seuss’s ABC. Just don’t name your son or daughter Extra Fox unless Brad Pitt does so first. (Ezra Fox, on the other hand…) Other distinctive names from ABC are Young Yolanda Yorgenson, Uncle Ubb (notable namesake is Ub Iwerks, the animator who created Mickey Mouse), and Oscar.
Eric is a generic page boy from The King’s Stilts. “Normal” names for guys and gals also include Alice (Happy birthday to you!); Benjamin (B. Bicklebaum; The Cat in The Hat Songbook), Peter (T. Hooper; Scrambled Eggs Super!); Daniel, the gun-slinging spaniel from The Butter Battle Book; David Donald Doo (Dr. Seuss’s ABC); and brothers Fred, Fritz, Dwight, Cooper, and Jeffrey (Oh Say Can You Say?). Helen Marion Palmer was Geisel’s first wife; his second was Audrey Stone Diamond.
Some not-so-mainstream names in the Seuss Universe:
Dake (Gertrude McFuzz)
Foo-Foo the Snoo (I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!)
Horace P. Sweet; Quilligan (I Had Trouble in Getting To Solla Sollew)
Icabod (Dr. Seuss’s ABC)
Looie Katz (I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today! And Other Stories)
Norval (You’re Only Old Once! Dr. Seuss’s Book For Obsolete Children)
Solla Sollew and Boola Boo Ball, fictional cities; Genghis Khan Shmitz (I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew)
Sylvester McMonkey McBean (The Sneetches and Other Stories)
Truffula trees; Once-ler; Lorax (The Lorax)