Dr Seuss sales skyrocket after cancel controversy

The banned Dr. Seuss books have rocketed up the Amazon best seller charts in Australia in the wake of six of his books being "cancelled".

The list, based on sales in Australia, has three Jordan Peterson books as the top sellers, followed by The Barefoot Investor - then coming in at number 5 is a classic Dr Seuss box set.

One of the books withdrawn by the Dr Seuss publisher - And to Think That I saw It On Mulberry Street - over "hurtful" and alleged racist imagery, comes in at number 7.

The Cat in The Hat's Learning Library is now at number 9 and is priced at $94.

Even more Dr Seuss books are charting at number 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19.

Out of the top 50 books being sold in Australia today, 11 are Dr Seuss titles.

Six of the much loved classic Dr Seuss books were withdrawn by the US publishers and have been ­attacked for "racist" depictions of Arabic, Chinese and African characters.

But the black listed books are still freely available in NSW libraries and two are currently listed in the 2021 NSW Premier's Reading Challenge, with no plans by the NSW Education Department to withdraw them.

Parents and cultural experts have condemned the bans, saying it is just "one step away from book burning".

Rebecca Jackes and her daughter Chloe Jackes, 3, with friends Eloise Pillemernt and her daughter Azalea, 3, reading a Dr. Seuss book at Centennial Park. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Rebecca Jackes and her daughter Chloe Jackes, 3, with friends Eloise Pillemernt and her daughter Azalea, 3, reading a Dr. Seuss book at Centennial Park. Picture: Jonathan Ng

US publisher Dr Seuss ­Enterprises said it made the decision after a review of its collection from experts, ­including teachers.

"These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong," the company said yesterday.

Depictions of Chinese characters wearing conical hats and holding chopsticks, and barefoot African men wearing grass skirts, have been attacked as racist.

But two of the banned titles - If I Ran The Zoo and On Beyond Zebra - which are criticised for their portrayal of Arabic men, are promoted by the NSW Premier's Reading Challenge for their "wacky style stories" and "fun use of language".

Now they are set to become collector's items, with prices skyrocketing on eBay to more than $800 for a set of three of the banned books within hours of Wednesday's announcement.

 

Book cover of Dr Seuss'
Book cover of Dr Seuss' "On Beyond Zebra".

 

Book cover of Dr. Seuss’ “Scrambled Eggs Super”
Book cover of Dr. Seuss’ “Scrambled Eggs Super”

Institute of Public Affairs director of the foundations of Western civilisation program Dr Bella d'Abrera said parents should be able to choose what they read to children and cancel culture appears to have "no discernible end".

"This is one step away from book burning," she said.

"This is a classic case of applying the modern invention of Critical Race Theory to something that was written over 50 years ago.

"It basically says that everything is potentially racist, which means that everything can potentially be cancelled. This is totally absurd. While there is no ­question that there are some outdated stereotypes in the books, the cartoons ­themselves do not turn children into racists."

Bondi mum Eloise Pillemernt said Dr Seuss had lasted so long because his books were loved by so many. "It's a shame to see some of his titles will no longer be around," she said. "My daughter Azalea just loves the fantasy and the characters of the books.

American author Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), 73, in Adelaide to meet his young readers during a 1976 Australian tour.
American author Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel), 73, in Adelaide to meet his young readers during a 1976 Australian tour.

 

Dr Bella d'Abrera.
Dr Bella d'Abrera.

"I think people can read into things whatever they want to and these books were written back in a time where things were different."

The books have sold more than 650 million copies and have been translated into dozens of languages.

The other titles consigned to history include And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, McElligot's Pool, The Cat's Quizzer and Scrambled Eggs Super!.

The stepdaughter of author Theodor Seuss Geisel, who died in 1991, said he was not racist but "a product of his time". Dr Seuss Enterprises made the announcement to ban the books on the birthday of Geisel, who was born in 1904. His most famous works include The Cat In The Hat, Green Eggs And Ham and How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Some of his works have been re-evaluated in the past few years for their portrayal of Black and Asian characters.

A 2019 report concluded that 43 of the 45 characters of colour had "characteristics aligning with the definition of Orientalism". Two Black "African'' characters in the banned books were found to "align with the theme of anti-Blackness," the study said.

Cover of the book
Cover of the book "If I Ran The Zoo" by Dr Seuss.

 

THE WOKE WITH NO JOKE

By James Morrow

 

Once on the fearful island of Woke
There lived scary creatures who hated a joke
Their mission: to cancel!
To take great offence!
Against all their slurs there was no recompense!

 

So one day it came that they came out for Seuss
They wanted his head in a virtual noose
It didn't matter he died,
For his books still survived!
They would not rest 'til his reputation was fried!

 

'We're sorry', they said, 'your words aren't correct'
'Your old racist views leave your image quite wrecked'
They said that they're hurtful,
They said that they're wrong,
'And we hear you once wrote an old minstrel song!'

 

Just then there arised a great cry from the people
'You can't attack Seuss, you crazy woke sheeple!'
Leave books alone!
Kids read them all by the ton!
Even dog people say Cat in the Hat is quite fun!

 

And just then the Woke creatures learned a great learning
That it's not nice to mess with another man's earning
Because shutting down speech is worse than a joke
And if you go woke, you must surely go broke.

 

 

Originally published as Dr Seuss sales skyrocket after cancel controversy