Meet the ‘Kwuggerbug,’ from Dr. Seuss’ ‘Lost Stories’

September 8, 2014

Theodor Geisel — better known as Dr. Seuss — has been charming generations of children and adults since the 1950s. And though Seuss died in 1991, a new collection of his lesser-known work called Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories comes out Tuesday.

"The four stories in this book came from columns that appeared in Redbook magazine in the 1950s," explains Cathy Goldsmith, an associate publishing director at Random House. "Dr. Seuss actually wrote a piece once a month for Redbook."

As an art director in the 1970s, Goldsmith worked with Seuss and remembers when he'd come into the office to introduce a new book.

"He would gather everybody in a conference room, and first he would read the words to you aloud, and then he would show you the pictures," Goldsmith recalls. "… It was fabulous, because you would meet that book — not exactly the way a reader would meet it because it hadn't all been pulled together yet — but you had that sense of discovery."

The new collection features some beloved Seuss characters — like Horton and the Grinch — as well as old haunts, like Mulberry Street. There some new names as well, like Kwuggerbug, a mean-spirited little creature who bullies Horton into bringing him treats called beezlenuts.

"There is absolutely a kernel of the Dr. Seuss that everybody knows and loves in these stories," says Margaret Willison, a librarian in Boston who specializes in children's literature. But because these were written as magazine pieces, Willison says there are some differences between these stories and classics like Green Eggs and Ham or The Cat in the Hat.

One major difference is fewer of those energetic Seuss illustrations, but the lyrical language is pure Seuss. "Throughout you can see him play with tenses, Willison says. "That is really a trademark of his: He climbed and he climbed and he clum and he clum. … You see that wordplay all throughout these stories."

Seuss' stories continue to delight kids today. Eva Steinman, 5, is a regular at the Shaw public library in Washington, D.C.

Her favorite Seuss is Happy Birthday to You! "It's funny," she says.

Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories is now one more title for Steinman and a whole new generation of Seuss fans to discover.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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