Dr. Seuss’s childhood played a big role in shaping his books, as evidenced by And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, which immortalised two of the streets in his hometown, Springfield, Massachusetts — Mulberry Street and Bliss Street. Interestingly, the sign post in the book contradicts the actual geography of the neighbourhood, since the two streets do not meet in real life. (Who knows, perhaps he was alluding to the fact that he enjoyed the sights and sounds on Mulberry Street when he was a child.)
The story itself is thought-provoking and delightful, celebrating a child’s imaginative streak while observing that something so precious can easily be killed by overly pedantic grown-ups. Seuss’s signature rhymes are already recognisable here, albeit with none of the wacky made-up words and creatures that populate his later works.
The illustrations, while still wonderfully expressive and joyous, are noticeably more restrained here, since this was the book that started it all, back in 1937 when it was published by Vanguard Press — after more than 27 rejections from other publication houses!
Today, 78 years later and after probably a billion copies of his more than 44 titles sold, Dr. Seuss is an inspiring example of why we ought not to give up on something that we truly believe in.