The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

"For Maurice with many thanks for the Future!": Exceptional association copy of Dr. Seuss' The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins; inscribed by him to fellow children's book legend Maurice Sendak

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

SEUSS, Dr. [Theodor Seuss Geisel]; Maurice Sendak.


Item Number: 135672

New York: The Vanguard Press, 1938.

First edition, early printing of Seuss’s unique book of prose. Association copy, inscribed by the author on the pastedown, “For Maurice with many thanks for the Future! Dr. Seuss.” The recipient, Maurice Sendak, is best known for his immensely popular illustrated children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1964 and gained him international fame. Sendak acquired the present volume, which had been previously signed by Seuss on the verso of the front free endpaper “For Alice, Best Wishes – Dr. Seuss”, and brought it to the July 1, 1980 American Library Association Conference in New York where Seuss inscribed it personally to him, as is notated in Sendak’s small ownership inscription above Seuss’s. At that time, Sendak and Seuss would have been two of the most popular, and perhaps even controversial best-selling children’s author in attendance. Sendak’s career was launched in 1952 with the publication of Ruth Krauss’s A Hole Is to Dig. Their author-illustrator collaboration, facilitated by Harper & Row publisher and editor-in-chief of juvenile books Ursula Nordstrom, became something of a cultural phenomenon, spawning a host of imitators of their “unruly” and “rebellious” child protagonists. Now one of the scarcest and most desirable books in modern children’s literature, Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are faced many opponents and was banned in several libraries upon publication in 1963. Its challengers accused the work as being “too dark” and “traumatizing” to young children due to its often frightening imagery.” It would become one of many “good books for bad children” edited and published by Nordstrom who disliked the genteel, sentimental tone of earlier American children’s literature and sought to change its purpose to appeal to children’s imaginations and emotions, rather than serve as adult-approved morality tales. American children’s author and illustrator Theodore Seuss Geisel produced some of the most popular children’s books of all time under the pen name Dr. Seuss. Although most recognized for his vivid and original drawing style, Geisel’s works also carried a complexity that went beyond the function of entertaining children; many of his works had an autobiographical undertone and were written to be intentionally divergent from traditional children’s books. Rather than write stories to convey morals to children, many of Geisel’s stories expressed strong views on current social and political issues. Near fine in a very good dust jacket. An exceptional association.

Unlike the majority of Geisel's books, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins was written in prose rather than rhyming and metered verse. Geisel, who collected hats, got the idea for the story on a commuter train from New York to New England, while he was sitting behind a businessman wearing a hat; the passenger was so stiff and formal that Geisel idly wondered what would happen if he took the man's hat and threw it out the window. Geisel concluded that the man was so "stuffy" that he would just grow a new one. The book received positive reviews from critics. The New York Times reviewer called the book "a lovely bit of tomfoolery which keeps up the suspense and surprise until the end." Booklist, which had criticized Geisel's previous book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, for containing only enough material for one comic strip, praised The 500 Hats as "a brand-new idea, developed into a complete tale, not too long, not too short, just right. Somewhere between the Sunday supplements and the Brothers Grimm, Dr. Seuss has produced a picture book combining features of both."

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