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Library Happenings – Writings of past finally available (Aug. 5, 2015 issue)

July 2015 may well be remembered in the library and publishing worlds as the month of bestsellers snatched from oblivion. The forgotten manuscript of Harper Lee’s first novel “Go Set a Watchman” was turned back from the brink and Dr. Seuss’ not-quite-completed “What Pet Should I Get?” was rescued when his wife and secretary were cleaning out his office space. The manuscripts for both of these bestsellers languished for about 55 years before they were published last month.
“What Pet Should I Get?” was unearthed from Seuss’ “bone pile” of unfinished ideas. Dr. Seuss, the pen name of Theodor Geisel, had written the manuscript and drawn the illustrations in black and white, but he had not specified all of the colors to be used.
Since experts at Random House had dated the artwork to between 1958 and 1962, they primarily chose colors from the custom chart that Dr. Seuss used during that time frame. The story features the brother and sister from “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” which was first published in 1960.
Here’s a Seussian synopsis. Their father has offered to buy them a pet – but only one pet. Which pet should they get? They go to the pet shop where Kay likes a cat. Her brother wants others, first this one, then that. It’s not easy to choose but they have to act soon. Their mother has told them to be home by noon. Indecision is stressful, the children soon find, but before the book ends, they make up their mind.
Is it the cat, dog, rabbit, fish, thing on a stxring or yent under a tent that will go home with the two kids? In real life, I’m partial to cats, but if I lived in Dr. Seuss’s world, I think I might choose the yent. Size is not the obstacle there that it is here.
The “Notes from the Publisher” at the end of the book chat about Dr. Seuss’s own beloved pets and about the rediscovery and completion of “What Pet Should I Get?” For fans of Dr. Seuss, the best news is that the “bone pile” should yield at least two more books before the lode is tapped out.
Adult Options
Local author Thorn L. Kegley gives a fictionalized account of a true story from 1807 North Carolina in “When the Whip-poor-will Cried: the Murder of Naomi Wise.” Naomi, a penniless orphan, expects marriage from her handsome suitor, but she is betrayed.
“Brush Back,” Sara Paretsky’s seventeenth V.I. Warshawski novel, finds the private investigator tangled in Chicago politics while trying to help an old boyfriend prove his mother innocent of murder. Fern Michaels’s “Wishes for Christmas” offers us a brief chance to escape the heat by immersing ourselves in the holidays.