Netflix secures rights to turn five Dr. Seuss books including The Sneetches and Wacky Wednesday into animated shows looking at ‘themes of diversity’ as it beefs up its pre-school content to compete with Disney+

  • Shows will include: ‘Horton Hears a Who!,’ ‘The Sneetches,’ ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,’ ‘Wacky Wednesday’ and ‘Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose’ 
  • Netflix said the ‘new slate of programming will explore themes of diversity’
  • Netflix and Dr. Seuss’s estate collaborated in 2019 with ‘Green Eggs and Ham’
  • His works have been at the centre of a cultural battleground, with the publishing of six of the artist’s books being discontinued for including racist caricatures

Netflix has secured the rights to turn five Dr. Seuss books into animated shows that will look at ‘themes of diversity’, the company has said.

The shows will include ‘Horton Hears a Who!,’ ‘The Sneetches,’ ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,’ ‘Wacky Wednesday’ and ‘Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose,’ the company said in a joint announcement with Dr. Seuss Enterprises.

The streaming giant is looking to broaden its pre-school offering, and it will be hoping the rights acquisition will give it more content to compete with rival Disney+.

‘The new Dr. Seuss line-up will serve as a true anchor for Netflix’s expanded focus on pre-school,’ the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

‘Introducing concepts of foundational learning, this new slate of programming will explore themes of diversity and respect for others all told through fun and engaging stories that incorporate the whimsical humor, distinctive visuals and rhythmic style of Dr. Seuss,’ it added.


Netflix has secured the rights to turn five Dr. Seuss books into animated shows that will look at ‘themes of diversity’, the company has said. Adaptations of ‘The Sneetches’ (left) and ‘Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose’ (right) will both be 45-minute special episodes



Series of ‘One Fish, Two Fish,’ ‘Wacky Wednesday’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who!’ will all vary in length, Netflix said.

Series of ‘One Fish, Two Fish,’ ‘Wacky Wednesday’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who!’ will all vary in length, Netflix said.

The ‘One Fish, Two Fish’ series will comprise of seven minute episodes and two minute music videos, while episodes of both ‘Wacky Wednesday’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who!’ will run for 11 minutes.

Meanwhile, ‘The Sneetches’ and ‘Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose’ will both be 45-minute special episodes.

Netflix and Dr. Seuss Enterprises – the company responsible for the author’s legacy – collaborated first in 2019, creating an animated series of ‘Green Eggs and Ham.’ A second season of the show is expected to be released in April.

While Netflix dominates the streaming landscape, Disney+ gives its subscribers access to all of Disney’s back catalogue and family friend intellectual property, giving it the edge in terms of content for younger viewers.

Netflix will be eager to compete more in this category, with Digital TV Research last year predicting Disney+ could overtake Netflix’s overall subscribers by 2026.

‘These beloved stories have been a core part of families’ libraries for many years and it gives me great pride that we are bringing them to our catalog of Netflix shows, in a fresh and modern way that resonates with audiences today,’ Heather Tilert, Netflix’s Director of Preschool Content, said in the company’s statement.

Susan Brandt, President and chief executive of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, added: ‘We are always looking for new and engaging ways to share our stories, characters and messages with the next generation of fans, and Netflix has a unique ability to create original, delightful adaptations of our timeless classics with an emphasis on imagination, fun, and education.’

In recent years, the works of Dr. Seuss have been at the centre of a cultural battleground, with the publishing of a number of the artist’s books being discontinued for including racist caricatures. 

Unpublished Dr. Seuss works will be edited by an ‘inclusive’ panel of writers and artists from ‘diverse racial backgrounds,’ the company announced Wednesday

Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced last year it would no longer print the following six books: ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street’, ‘If I Ran the Zoo’, ‘McElligot’s Pool’, ‘On Beyond Zebra!’, ‘Scrambled Eggs Super!’, and ‘The Cat’s Quizzer’.

And earlier this month, the company announced that a series of characters from unpublished Dr. Seuss works will be featured in an upcoming line of books written and illustrated by an ‘inclusive’ panel of writers and artists from ‘diverse racial backgrounds.’ 

The new authors and illustrators will ‘represent a diverse cross-section of racial backgrounds to represent as many families as possible,’ said Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which was founded by the family of Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, and manages his archives at the University of California San Diego.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises has not released the names of any of the authors or artists working on the project and it is not clear how they were selected. Requests for comment from DailyMail.com were not immediately answered. 

The new authors and illustrators will ‘represent a diverse cross-section of racial backgrounds to represent as many families as possible,’ said Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Above is one of the sketches, showing a four-legged animal with humongous ears

Dr. Seuss Enterprises has not released the names of any of the authors or artists working on the project and it is not clear how they were selected. Above is another sketch, showing three multi-colored hummingbirds

The first two titles in the new line of books, dubbed Seuss Studios, will be released in 2023 and published by Random House Children’s Books. Like Dr. Seuss’s other works, they will be geared towards readers aged 4 to 8.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises said in a statement that it would announce additional details about the project later this year.

‘We look forward to putting the spotlight on a new generation of talent who we know will bring their unique voices and style to the page, while also drawing inspiration from the creativity and imagination of Dr. Seuss,’ Susan Brandt, the president and CEO of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, said in a statement.

Among the characters included is a small four-legged animal with humongous ears and a group of three multi-colored hummingbirds. 

‘The original Dr. Seuss sketch that serves as the inspiration for each of the new Seuss Studios books will be included in the book, along with a note from the creators explaining how they were inspired, and their process,’ the San Diego-based company said. 

The move to give unpublished Dr. Seuss sketches a woke rework came just one day after President Biden omitted Dr. Seuss from Read Across America Day, which is held annually on the children’s author’s birthday on March 2.



 



It comes a year after Dr. Seuss Enterprises said it was ceasing publication of six titles for including racist images 

This image appears in the 1937 book ‘And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street’, which shows an illustration of a ‘Chinaman who eats with sticks’ – a caricatured picture of an Asian man carrying a bowl of rice 

‘If I Ran the Zoo’, which was published in 1950, includes a drawing of two bare-footed African men wearing what appear to be grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads 

Biden broke presidential tradition when he left out any mention of Dr. Seuss during his proclamation on Monday. Both former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have recognized Dr. Seuss’ contributions several times in their proclamations each year.

This year, however, the White House included the legendary author again, announcing that the ‘path to literacy’ for young readers ‘begins with timeless traditions: being read to at bedtime, gathering in classrooms for story time, and attending events at local libraries with family and friends.’

‘Children’s classics such as Dr. Seuss’ ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’ Have inspired a passion for reading and endless creativity that spans generations,’ the White House’s proclamation said Tuesday.

Explaining last year’s decision to stop the publication of the six books, Dr. Seuss Enterprises said: ‘These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.’

In ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,’ an Asian person is portrayed wearing a conical hat, holding chopsticks, and eating from a bowl. ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ includes a drawing of two bare-footed African men wearing what appear to be grass skirts with their hair tied above their heads.

‘We look forward to putting the spotlight on a new generation of talent who we know will bring their unique voices and style to the page,’ Susan Brandt, the president and CEO of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, said in a statement

The White House included Dr. Seuss in this year’s ‘Read Across America’ celebration after President Joe Biden omitted him last year 

There has been increasing criticism in recent years over the way blacks, Asians and others are drawn in some of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s most beloved children’s books, as well as in his earlier advertising and propaganda illustrations 

‘Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,’ the company said.

The decision to cease publication and sales of the books was made two years ago after months of discussion, the company said.

‘Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process. We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles.’

Random House Children Books, Dr. Seuss’ publisher, issued a brief statement on the matter last year: ‘We respect the decision of Dr. Seuss Enterprises and the work of the panel that reviewed this content last year, and their recommendation.’

Dr. Suess, who was born in 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts, began his career in 1927 as an illustrator for magazines like Vanity Fair and Life and a political cartoonist for New York publication PM.

He wrote his first children’s book, ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street’ – which was one of his canceled publications, in 1937.

During World War II, he took a brief hiatus from children’s literature to create political cartoons condemning Nazi Germany and worked in the animation and film department of the United States Army.

Dr. Seuss founded the Beginner Books imprint at Random House in 1957, publishing ‘The Cat in the Hat’ and ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ that same year.

Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump have all mentioned Dr. Seuss in conjunction with Read Across America Day, which is designed to encourage school children to read more. The Obamas are pictured in April 2010

In 2017, a school librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, criticized a gift of 10 Seuss books from first lady Melania Trump, saying many of his works were ‘steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.’

Dr. Seuss earned about $35 million in 2021 and was named the fifth-highest paid dead celebrity of the year by Forbes, with Roald Dahl as number one, followed by Prince, Michael Jackson and Charles Schulz. He was number two on the list in 2020, earning $33 million that year, preceded by Michael Jackson.

His books have been translated into dozens of languages, as well as in Braille, and are sold in more than 100 countries.

The National Education Association, which launched Read Across America Day in 1998 and made Dr. Seuss the face of the celebration, has for several years steered away from the author and encouraged a more diverse reading list for children.

School districts across the country have also moved away from Dr. Seuss, prompting Loudoun County, Virginia, schools just outside Washington, D.C., to douse rumors last month that they were banning the books entirely.

‘Research in recent years has revealed strong racial undertones in many books written/illustrated by Dr. Seuss,’ the school district said in a statement.

In 2017, a school librarian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, criticized a gift of 10 Seuss books from first lady Melania Trump, saying many of his works were ‘steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.’

In 2018, a Dr. Seuss museum in his hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts, removed a mural that included an Asian stereotype. 

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