The Inside Story: This Is Ann

In this blog series, HPB Buy Guy Steve Leach takes a closer look at the unique curiosities that we see in our stores.


Most fans of The Cat in the Hat and other characters created by Dr. Seuss are not aware of his wartime stint producing pamphlets and animated training films for director Frank Capra’s Signal Corps, but we’re happy to introduce you to Seuss’s mosquito Ann, whom he put to work in service of her country.

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Long-Lost Wartime Illustrations by Dr. Seuss (Rarest of Rare Collectibles)

Like another long-lost literary classic published earlier this month (Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee), the new What Pet Should I Get? was written in the late ’50s by an author loved by millions of all ages –– Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known by his fans as Dr. Seuss. We will have copies of this Dr. Seuss discovery in HPB stores when it’s released to the public on July 28. But we wanted to take this opportunity to show-and-tell about a real Dr. Seuss World War II-era treasure, This Is Ann. This booklet was a wartime publication of the U.S. Government Printing Office and was illustrated by Dr. Seuss.

RAREST OF RARE COLLECTIBLES

This Is Ann: She’s Dying to Meet You, by Dr. Seuss
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943

This 38-page pamphlet was issued to U.S. soldiers during World War II to warn them of the threat of “Ann”—the anopheles mosquito that carried malaria. Many were distributed but few have survived. It’s especially rare to find a complete copy in Very Good condition like this one. The text was written by kids’ book author and illustrator Munro Leaf, who is best known for his children’s classic The Story of Ferdinand.

Our Flagship store in Dallas recently got hold of this rare gem, and they are asking $750 for it. If you’re interested in buying this rarest of rare collectible, visit HPB.com/buyguy and contact me, the HPB Buy Guy.

RARELY-KNOWN TRIVIA

Here are a few little-known facts about Dr. Seuss:

No credit for This is Ann — Dr. Seuss was Captain Theodore Geisel at the time he co-created This Is Ann, so neither he nor author Leaf, who was also serving in the military, received credit in the pamphlet.

Bestseller lists across decades — Only a few authors have ever topped the both New York Times Fiction and Nonfiction Bestseller Lists. The last Dr. Seuss book published during his lifetime, Oh! The Places You’ll Go!, topped the Fiction list in 1990.

Not a fan of Dick & Jane — Dr Seuss said that The Cat in the Hat was “the book I’m proudest of because it had something to do with the death of the Dick and Jane primers.”

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Steve is Staffing & Development Manager (aka the “Buy Guy“) at Half Price Books Corporate.

Staff Picks: Top Five Banned Children’s Storytime Books

Kids have no business reading this….at least that’s what some people think. To kick off our Banned Books Awareness Week, the team at our Mansfield, TX store hosted a story time made up entirely of books that have been banned or challenged in libraries across our great land. Wouldn’t you know it…parents actually brought their kids to listen in! According to our Mansfield bibliomaniacs, here were the top five favorite banned or challenged children’s story time books:

#5 Curious George, H.A. Rey

Challenged for several reasons, from George not being drawn anatomically correct, (note: he has no prehensile tail) to the story having racial undertones. Our Half Pint crew just finds him funny– nay, hilarious– and the little readers we know really seem to identify with him constantly getting into mischief!

  

#4 Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold

Cassie Lightfoot is a young girl who dreams of being free to go wherever she wants, and she is magically whisked away on a journey through history. Illustrated by intricate painted story quilt designs, this picture book has been challenged for containing stereotypical representations of the African American culture.

 #3 The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

This book is the ultimate lesson in give and take. Which is better? Who are givers and who are takers? Sometimes challenged for being “sexist,” the only challenge our little readers see is that it challenges us all to be better people.  

#2 The Lorax, Dr. Seuss

Challenged in California for “criminalizing the forestry industry,” this tongue-twisting tale of a feisty little figure who “speaks for the trees” has been a favorite of our story-timers for years. Nothing gets kids talking like a Q&A after reading The Lorax. Somehow kids get Dr. Suess’ message: Take your part, don’t be greedy, “…which everyone, everyone EVERYONE needs!”

And number one is . . . . .

Drum Roll . . . . . .

YOUR PICK!

Because we are not in the business of thought-control (at least not this week) we’d like YOU to nominate a favorite kids book off the banned/challenged list. Let us know in the comments below. Take a moment this week to have your own Banned Books Week story time– you never know what kind of controversy you’ll stir up!

Let me know your favorite . . .

–Becky  

 “Libraries are places of inclusion rather than exclusion.”
American Library Association