The Boy on Fairfield Street
by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher
Random House, 2004
Every year we celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday during March (is Reading Month). I do a week of activities with my students and read them all the Dr. Seuss books they've never heard of. This is my favorite book to read to the older kids, fourth or fifth grades, who think they know everything about Dr. Seuss.
Krull presents a chronological story of the early life of Theodore Seuss Geisel, focusing on his experiences as a boy in Springfield, Massachusetts. It includes the happy details, such as Ted's mother reciting lists of nonsense words to help him go to sleep (names of pies!), and not so happy details, such as Ted being bullied by anti-German neighbors. At the end there are four pages of further information about Geisel's later years, a comprehensive list of books written by Seuss and some suggestions for further reading.
This biography appeals to children of all ages, but I especially like to share it with older children who have had the experience of being punished for dreaming too much. Ted is presented as a creative but unfocused genius, full of ideas but not a lot of drive. I think many creative children (myself included) can relate to this state of being.
It is beautifully illustrated with a painting on each two-page spread. At the bottom of each spread is a character from one of Seuss' books. I took these icons and made a trivia/word puzzle out of them, appropriate for 3rd grade and up. (Post a comment with your email address if you'd like a copy.)
- Awesomeness: 7 - full of great information about Seuss, and gorgeous to boot.
- Wordsmithing: 6 - well written, and only a bit too long for reading aloud in one session.
- Mesmerizitude: 6 - I especially liked all the stuff at the end (back matter?).
- Illustrations: 7 - perfectly captured the capricious, creative nature of Geisel as a boy.
- Factfulness: 7 - very well done!
Labels: 2010, biography, nonfiction monday, review