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Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.

The Many Hats of Dr. Seuss

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Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.

Children’s author and illustrator Theodor Geisel has educated generations of children with silly stories and a fanciful way with words. Before the later popularity of his nonsensical rhymes, Dr. Seuss penned a prose work called The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, featuring the eponymous Bartholomew and his enviable collection of headwear—a collection based on Dr. Seuss’s own menagerie of fantastic hats. In honor of the 75th anniversary of the book’s publication, Geisel’s widow has opened her late husband’s hat collection to the public in a traveling exhibit called “Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!

Bartholomew Cubbins and the hat that inspired his story.

Geisel’s hat collection remained something of an open secret: Though his penchant for silly hats was well noted by his friends and family, the general public remained unaware that the author maintained a fully stocked hat closet in his San Diego residence. In a 1937 newspaper interview, his sister Marnie outed the inside joke, informing the reporter, “Ted has another peculiar hobby—that of collecting hats of every description. Why, he must have several hundred, and he is using them as the foundation of his next book. I have seen him put on an impromptu show for guests, using the hats as costumes. He has kept a whole party in stitches just by making up a play with kitchen knives and spoons for the actors."

With Dr. Seuss, it seems that every dinner party was a hat party. No matter how elegant the occasion, he would insist that his guests don an additional whimsical accessory from his collection. In the picture above, Geisel, with his wife (now widow), Audrey, wears a nonchalant expression that belies his white, faux-fur head accessory. According to Audrey, it was a conscious hosting choice that worked to their advantage: “Believe me, when you get a dozen people seated at a fairly formal dinner party and they’ve all got on perfectly ridiculous chapeaus, the evening takes care of itself.”

 

Which came first, the cat or the hat? No one’s sure, but either way, Geisel strongly identified with one of his most morally ambiguous characters, drawing himself into the character in the illustration above.

 

With its ribbons and frills and furbelows, this straw hat could be a character in a Seuss story all on its own, and is characteristic of the diverse array of millinery in which Geisel delighted. 

All images courtesy of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.

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Kyle Ely
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Dedicated Middle School Teacher Transforms His Classroom Into Hogwarts
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Kyle Ely

It would be hard to dread back-to-school season with Kyle Ely as your teacher. As ABC News reports, the instructor brought a piece of Hogwarts to Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon by plastering his classroom with Harry Potter-themed decor.

The journey into the school's makeshift wizarding world started at his door, which was decorated with red brick wall paper and a "Platform 9 3/4" sign above the entrance. Inside, students found a convincing Hogwarts classroom complete with floating candles, a sorting hat, owl statues, and house crests. He even managed to recreate the starry night sky effect of the school’s Great Hall by covering the ceiling with black garbage bags and splattering them with white paint.

The whole project cost the teacher around $300 to $400 and took him 70 hours to build. As a long-time Harry Potter fan, he said that being able to share his love of the book series with his students made it all pay off it. He wrote in a Facebook post, "Seeing their faces light up made all the time and effort put into this totally worth it."

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Though wildly creative, the Hogwarts-themed classroom at Evergreen Middle School isn't the first of its kind. Back in 2015, a middle school teacher in Oklahoma City outfitted her classroom with a potions station and a stuffed version of Fluffy to make the new school year a little more magical. Here are some more unique classroom themes teachers have used to transport their kids without leaving school.

[h/t ABC News]

Images courtesy of Kyle Ely.

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How the Rise of Paperback Books Turned To Kill a Mockingbird Into a Literary Classic
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Tim Boyle/Getty Images

If you went to middle or high school in the U.S. in the last few decades, chances are you’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's now-classic novel (which was adapted into a now-classic film) about racial injustice in the South. Even if you grew up far-removed from Jim Crow laws, you probably still understand its significance; in 2006, British librarians voted it the one book every adult should read before they die. And yet the novel, while considered an instant success, wasn’t always destined for its immense fame, as we learned from the Vox video series Overrated. In fact, its status in the American literary canon has a lot to do with the format in which it was printed.

To Kill a Mockingbird came out in paperback at a time when literary houses were just starting to invest in the format. After its publication in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was reviewed favorably in The New York Times, but it wasn’t the bestselling novel that year. It was the evolution of paperbacks that helped put it into more hands.

Prior to the 1960s, paperbacks were often kind of trashy, and when literary novels were published in the format, they still featured what Vox calls “sexy covers,” like a softcover edition of The Great Gatsby that featured a shirtless Jay Gatsby on the cover. According to a 1961 article in The New York Times, back in the 1950s, paperbacks were described as “a showcase for the ‘three S’s—sex, sadism, and the smoking gun.’” But then, paperbacks came to schools.

The mass-market paperback for To Kill a Mockingbird came out in 1962. It was cheap, but had stellar credentials, which appealed to teachers. It was a popular, well-reviewed book that earned Lee the Pulitzer Prize. Suddenly, it was in virtually every school and, even half a century later, it still is.

Learn the whole story in the video below from Vox.

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