Re-Seussification Project: The Results
It was kind of a kooky idea, I admit it. I’ve seen plenty of sites where artists will reinterpret someone like Maurice Sendak in their own styles. What I wanted was something a little different. I wanted to see what would happen if great children’s book illustrators illustrated one another. If a Lobel illustrated a Bemelmans. If a Carle illustrated a Silverstein. Trouble is, famous folk have a way of not bothering to illustrate one another (to say nothing of the fact that a bunch of them are dead as doornails). The solution? To offer a silly fun challenge. And so the Re-Seussification Project was offered: To re-illustrate any Dr. Seuss book in the style of another illustrator.
Now there was some question at first about revealing the identities of the people making the mash-ups. Some folks thought this fun contest was unfortunate because I wasn’t celebrating the great talents of up-and-coming artists. So as a compromise, I’ll present the art first and then the names of the artists at the bottom of the page. Makes it a little more streamlined anyway.
And now . . . the moment you’ve all been waiting for . . . in the order of the faux artists, here’s the lot!
So, we’re all friends here, right? Right off the bat I’m going to make a confession. In offering this contest all I really wanted was for someone somewhere to do an Eric Carle. It was a lot to ask since we’re talking about an artist dealing in the medium of cut paper. It looked like it wasn’t going to happen. Then, last night, the final submission was sent in and it was . . .
1. GREEN EGGS AND HAM IN AN ERIC CARLE STYLE
Next up, I’ve fond memories of this book. As a child of Kalamazoo I was slightly obsessed with any and every mention of my hometown, no matter where it might be. Dr. Seuss was one of the few authors to understand the true glory of my hometown’s name and for that I shall forever be grateful. It lifts my heart a little then to see him memorialized in the form of . . .
2. HORTON HATCHES THE EGG IN A LAURENT DE BRUNHOFF STYLE
I particularly like how worried Babar appears. One thing’s for certain. That elephant bird is gonna be one snappy dresser.
This next image didn’t go the easy route, no sir. Some illustrators have styles that are easier to imitate than others. For this next one I was incredibly impressed by the sheer details at work. From the border to the font to the colors to the fact that this looks like an honest-to-gosh watercolor. Hold onto your hats folks, for you are now in the presence of . . .
3. GREEN EGGS AND HAM IN A TOMIE DEPAOLA STYLE
The best part is that his name is signed with dePaola’s customary little heart. THAT is the attention to detail I crave.
Part of this challenge was an exercise in preferences. Sometimes you get folks submitting art with a more contemporary flair. The recent success of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back has not gone unnoticed. In fact, one person in particular managed to channel him when creating the rather beautiful . . .
4. THE CAT IN THE HAT IN A JON KLASSEN STYLE
This next one is fascinating. Like dePaola, Arnold Lobel’s style is sometimes hard to define. It’s something about the colors, the graphite, and the expressions. Combine them and you get a pretty cool approximation. Observe.
5. YERTLE THE TURTLE IN AN ARNOLD LOBEL STYLE
This next one is a particularly smart mash-up when you realized the fact that the artist applied Parr’s usual “It’s Okay” phrasing to a Dr. Seuss line.
6. THE CAT IN THE HAT IN A TODD PARR STYLE
Something about the mouthless fish cracks me up.
I know I should have turned this next one counterclockwise in iPhoto or something, but I’ve grown fond of it in its vertical state. Forgive me. It just seems to work. With a nod to our most recent Caldecott winner . . .
7. HOP ON POP IN A CHRIS RASCHKA STYLE
Sometimes people go for the best known Seuss picture books. Other times they’re drawn to his easy book. And still others take the slightly less well-known Seuss works and make them their own. No, we didn’t get any submissions for I Had a Hard Time Getting to Solla Sollew (my husband’s favorite) but there were some other creative ones. This next one’s adorable.
8. IF I RAN THE CIRCUS IN AN H.A. REY STYLE
Boy, this next one got me to thinking. I don’t know enough about Seuss to know if he met any of the artists we’re replicating today. One meeting I’d kill to be a fly on a wall for would be between Seuss and the man behind The Giving Tree. Put the two together and you have . . .
9. THE LORAX IN A SHEL SILVERSTEIN STYLE
All of these were difficult (did you see the Eric Carle up there?) but this next one was tricky in a different way for me. To imitate an artist with a clean straight-lined style is one thing. So how do you replicate the work of someone with a purposefully shaky hand? If you’re this next image, you do it with sheer talent.
10. HORTON HATCHES THE EGG IN A WILLIAM STEIG STYLE
This next one conjures up one of the greats. I’m ashamed to say that when I was a kid I did not know Lyle the Crocodile. Expect the next generation to make up for my own mistakes. I end this mea culpa by posting a subdued and lovely….
11. THE CAT IN THE HAT IN A BERNARD WABER STYLE
But that’s not all! For a final wonderfully creepy ode to Scary Stories to tell in the Dark comes a last minute entry sure to put a shiver in your day . ..
12. ONE FISH TWO FISH RED FISH BLUE FISH IN A STEPHEN GAMMELL STYLE
Want to take this idea and use it yourself? The talented Bernadette Mount had an idea to adapt this project and use it with her students. As she told me:
“I did the ‘re-Seussify’ project in the library with the 6th graders. I gave them the option to re-illustrate Seuss in another illustrator’s style or put Seuss characters into another book setting and vice versa. Got some pretty good combinations and the kids were really creative.
– Cat in the Hat but Garfield is the cat”
I think my favorite of those was Fancy Sneetches, though Winnie the Pooh Will You Please Go Now has its charms.
I cannot express in words how honored I was to receive these submissions. Want to know who did what? Here are the artists with their corresponding numbers.
1. Aaron Zenz
2. Jim Larson
3. Mike Boldt
4. Dan Santat
5. Annie Beth Ericsson
6. Lisa Jenn Bigelow
7. Bernadette Mount
8. Casey Girard
9. Aaron Zenz
10. Helen Hill
11. Jarrett Krosoczka
Thank you, all of you, for your hard work! They’re a beautiful collection.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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