For the second time this month, readers are getting a new book from an author beloved whose work was supposedly finished. Children’s book fans perhaps thought they’d gotten the last of Dr. Seuss when Theodor Seuss Geisel died in 1991. But in 2013, his widow, Audrey, and longtime friend and secretary, Claudia Prescott, discovered a box of material that included, among other snippets of imagination, the draft for What Pet Should I Get? The book features the same brother and sister from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish shopping at a pet store for a new friend to take home.
What Pet, which goes on sale next week, has already generated serious interest—the initial printing is 1 million copies. Random House VP and associate publishing director for children’s books Cathy Goldsmith says, “My guess is that it won’t be very long before there is a second printing.”
Goldsmith, who worked with Seuss on his art in his later years, explained the decision to publish What Pet posthumously, noting that if Geisel were still alive “he’d be giving us new books. And I think we’re also respectful enough and grateful enough for what he did write to have not published this if we thought it wasn’t worthy.”
The legacy of Seuss was plenty shored up by Geisel’s 44 illustrated volumes (What Pet will make 45), which have sold 650 million copies worldwide. As Eloise illustrator Hilary Knight put it, “The lasting characters that are born in children’s books become part of our culture, and better still, part of our lives. Ted Geisel’s did all of that with his totally original style.”
And Hollywood actors are among his fans, too: they’ve lent their voices to Seuss characters on the big screen for decades, from Boris Karloff’s 1966 Grinch to Jim Carrey’s 2000 version, to Mike Myers’ Cat in the Hat (2003) to Danny DeVito’s Lorax (2012). Now Rainn Wilson joins their ranks, voicing the audiobook version of What Pet Should I Get? Listen to The Office star in this exclusive clip: