Inside Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum with Its New Illustrator: 'There's Something Timeless'
Found as an unfinished manuscript and collection of sketches in 2015, Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum is also one of the only books by the beloved children's writer to not rhyme
In Dr. Seuss’ book Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!, the beloved children’s writer lists the endless possibilities for inspiration: “You can think about red. / You can think about pink. / You can think up a horse. / Oh, the THINKS you can think!”
Now, a never-before-published Seuss book, Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum, shows that the late author took some of his own advice. Audrey Geisel — the late wife of Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss — discovered the unfinished manuscript and collection of sketches for the book in 2013. It was in the same box as What Pet Should I Get?, published in 2015, but Horse Museum needed more work to come to life.
For one, it was missing about a quarter of the text, which editors added. But it also only had rough sketches, so the team behind the book recruited Andrew Joyner, Australian illustrator of children’s books like The Pink Hat, which he wrote about the 2017 Women’s March, and The Hair Book, part of the Seuss-inspired “Bright & Early Books” series.
“Naturally, I said yes,” Joyner, 50, tells PEOPLE. “What really astonishes me is that it’s something I’ve always loved as a child, and all throughout my life, and then I get to contribute to that as well.”
The book follows a horse taking children through a museum, showing them the different ways artists have depicted horses throughout history and the world. It’s one of the only Seuss books not to rhyme, including with The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins and Bartholomew and the Oobleck. It’s also based in nonfiction — and aside from referencing various artistic styles, it even incorporates Seuss’ own work at the end, including pages from The Shape of Me and Other Stuff.
Along with those differences, Joyner didn’t try to exactly replicate Seuss’ style, but he thinks that’s actually truer to the icon.
“What’s great about Dr. Seuss’s art, the minute you look at it, you can sense his real sense of freedom in all his illustrations,” Joyner says. “It gave me much more freedom if I just approached it with my own style, but also tried to incorporate elements of his style.”
Yet like many illustrators working today, Joyner — who read Dr. Seuss books to his two teenage children when they were younger — can trace his work back to Seuss.
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“It’s only when I worked on this book that I really noticed how big an influence he’s had on my work,” he says. “I don’t think I draw like him, but I think there’s just some elements of his work in my drawings, which I would’ve just absorbed from looking at them when I was a kid.”
Thanks to Joyner, children will be exposed to even more of Seuss’ work, and he says he hopes the new book teaches them to appreciate art. He knows, however, that the book won’t only impact children.
“There’s something timeless about his books. They don’t seem to age,” Joyner says. “Green Eggs and Ham reads as well now as when it came out, I think, same with The Cat in the Hat. I’m sure in 50 years, we’ll be happily reading Dr. Seuss.”
Dr. Seuss’s Horse Museum is out Tuesday, Sept. 3.
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