Becoming Dr. Seuss: A Quick Update

c9d0210ddc5d4eef73ff8d6afeca69ed--photography-humor-dr-suessA number of you wonderful people who’ve placed advanced orders for Becoming Dr. Seuss through Amazon have contacted me recently to let me know you’ve received word that its publication date has been moved from February to May. And the question you’re generally asking me is: Whaaaat?

The quick answer: Yup, it’s true.  The publication date is now May 7, 2019. Concerned? Don’t be. Everything’s cool.

Meanwhile, if you wanna track my progress as I work to get this baby into your hands, give me a follow on Twitter at @brianjayjones, where I’ll give you some peeks behind the scenes, using the hashtag #MakingTheSeussage.

And then I’ll see you in May.  It’s a date! I promise.

Cover Reveal: Becoming Dr. Seuss

Wanna see the cover to my upcoming biography of Dr. Seuss?  It’s even got an official title now, too.

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Pretty nifty, eh?  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta finish writing the thing if we’re gonna get it into your hands by early 2019.

Remembering Dot Turk, My Charming Guide to Leland, Mississippi


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91gmc-pdU2LI was sad to learn of the passing of Dorothy Love Turk, who died earlier this month at the age of 88.  Dorothy — or “Dot” as she insisted I and everyone else call her — was one of the very first people I contacted when I began my research on Jim Henson back in 2010.  As a guide at the Jim Henson Boyhood Museum in Leland, she was great at helping me track down All Things Jim Henson in their little town–and as a lifelong resident of Leland, she was also the expert on the history of Leland. Heck, she even wrote a terrific history of the place, charmingly called Leland, Mississippi: From Hell Hole to Beauty Spot.  That was her kind of title.

IMG_6089.jpgHer book on the history of Leland, in fact, was also one of the first I bought when I started researching–I had to grab it from a used book store–and she was genuinely touched that I had purchased it, read it, and even brought it with me for her to sign. When I handed the book over for her sign, she turned to the blank front page, and wrote simply, “to Brian, Dorothy Love Turk.”  When I returned to Leland a year or so later for a Henson-related event, she ran up to me somewhat flustered and apologized for “signing [my] book so badly!”  She said she was so rattled by the idea that anyone would ask her to sign her book that she didn’t know what to write.  That sort of adorable humility was very much part of her charm.

Dot served as my eager tour guide during my time in Leland, introducing me around–having her vouch for me went a long way with the locals–helping me get in touch with some of Jim’s childhood friends, and regaling me with the gossip and town legends that made Leland such a magical place for Jim Henson to spend his early years. They take pretty good care of Jim Henson down there, and it’s thanks in no small part to people like Dot.  She took good care of me, too, and I’ll miss her.

More Foreign Editions? Czech.

It’s always fun to see how you look in foreign attire.  And George Lucas looks pretty good in Czech.

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Jim Henson Now on Sale for Kindle!

Still miss having Jim Henson on your Kindle? You’re in luck: it’s on sale at Amazon right now for $1.99.  This offer won’t last long, as the saying goes — in fact, it might only be for today only.  Grab it while you can! Or not. I’m not the boss of you.

Go Watch Muppet Guys Talking

Muppet-Guys-Talking-the-Muppet-GuysIf you’re a Muppet fan, chances are you’re already anxiously awaiting the release of Muppet Guys Talking, Frank Oz’s documentary of . . . well, Muppet guys talking about life, art, and working with Jim Henson.  And who are the Muppet Guys? They’re Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Fran Brill, Dave Goelz, and Bill Barretta. More information — including how you can watch the documentary when it’s released later this week — is available over on muppetguystalking.com.  Go.

While you wait, you might also wanna check out this really wonderful interview with Frank Oz, conducted by those savvy fellas over at Tough Pigs. And I’ve gotta admit: I’m thrilled to be on the receiving end of some first-rate Frank Oz ballbreaking:

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NOTE: I actually love Paul McCartney.

Always Watching

8688 K Pearlman Photography_previewThis is me lecturing on Jim Henson last week — I had to step in when a regularly-scheduled lecturer was taken ill.

One is truly never really out from under the gaze of Ernie and Bert.

At Work in the Geisel Library

I’m sitting in the San Diego Airport, waiting for my flight back to Baltimore, which has already been announced as an hour late.  Vacation? Nope. I’ve been in San Diego for the last ten days, doing research on Dr. Seuss, since his archives are held at the Geisel Library (see the connection?) at the University of California at San Diego.

It’s been a good trip. I couldn’t dig into all of the archival files I wanted; apart from sheer time limitations, some of the Seuss-related materials remain tantalizingly restricted, which — while it leaves those of us who love research going Oooooooo, I wonder what’s in there? — isn’t necessarily unusual (at Dartmouth, for example, materials relating to financial transactions or donations were also restricted). But I still got my hands on lots and lots and lots of great stuff, and I’m grateful for the assistance of the library archivists, who willingly lugged in box after box and always cheerfully promised to check on the status of just ONE more! box or folder for me.

I also had the opportunity to talk with one of Ted’s friends, in a home perched high atop Mount Soledad with a stunning view of the Pacific.  Not bad.  San Diego and La Jolla are a pretty nice place to be in January — especially as I’m flying head first into a swirling winter storm back east, which may be one reason why my flight is already delayed.

Here’s a look at the exterior of the Geisel Library.  While Ted didn’t have anything to do with the architectural design of the building, it certainly looks like a library where he’d want to store his papers, doesn’t it?

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Once inside, this is the entrance to the archives, with your way marked by a quote from The Lorax.

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This is the view from inside the fishbowl.  I was the only researcher in the room the entire week–and while photography of materials isn’t permitted, I don’t think they’ll mind a shot of the workspace.  If you look just to the left of the glass door, you’ll see the tops of two rolling carts, each containing archival boxes.  Those are the materials I was working from.

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As I mentioned, I wasn’t permitted to take photos of any of the materials in the collection (policies vary from place to place — I could photograph materials at Columbia and at Dartmouth, for instance).  But UCSD is still very generous about giving the public a look at some of what they’ve got on hand, and keeps a regular display of materials moving through cases just outside the archival doors.  At the moment, there’s an original typewritten manuscript of the text from Green Eggs and Ham on view . . .

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. . . as well as this really gorgeous original art from Horton Hatches The Egg! 

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Just as there was in Springfield, there’s a statue outside the library of Ted with the Cat in the Hat (and for some reason, it looked particularly great in the rain).

IMG_5302 2So long, Geisel Library, and so long San Diego and La Jolla.  You were lovely.

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George Lucas Goes Around the World

IMG_5287This is kinda fun: on a bookshelf in my office — it’s actually a wooden crate at the base of my desk — I like to keep every edition of the three books I’ve had published over the last decade. For Washington Irving, that meant I had it in hardcover and softcover.  For Jim Henson, apart from the U.S. hardcover and paperback, there was a UK edition, a Polish edition, and an audiobook — the first time I have ever had an audiobook of my work, and I gotta admit, I still get a bit weepy listening to Kirby Hayborne read the heck out of it.

George Lucas, however, has made it into a few more foreign markets.  Apart from the U.S., UK/Australian editions and the audiobook, it’s also available — so far — in Italian, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Finnish, and Polish. While there can sometimes be cover or artwork variations on the foreign versions, for the most part, the overall look and feel of the U.S. version of George Lucas remains intact — a testament to the beautiful design work by the folks at Little, Brown.

If you’re a foreign reader of George Lucas, let me sincerely say Grazie. Kiitos. Je nous remercieVielen Dank. Obrigado. Dziekuje Ci. Gracias.

Where I’ll Be

If you’re in or around the Washington, DC area on Wednesday night, you should come by the University Club of DC for its 28th annual Meet the Author Night & Book Fair. More than 65 authors will be there — including yours truly, where I’ll be sitting behind a pile of the newly-printed George Lucas paperbacks.

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The University Club of DC is located in a really impressive building at 1135 16th Street N.W., right off Sakharov Plaza.  For more information about the book fair, and the club itself, you can check things out at www.universityclubdc.com.