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You thought P. D. Eastman and Dr. Seuss were the same person? Think again, o gentle noder.

P(hillip) D(ey) Eastman (1909 - 1986), born in Amherst, Massachusetts, was a writer and artist of children's books. In my home we have a lot of his books, some of them in collaboration with Theodore Geisel. It has been believed that they are one and the same, that Eastman is the good Doctor's Richard Bachman. This is not true.

After Eastman graduated from Amherst College in 1933, he took a job in the production design and story department of Walt Disney Studios. It was here where he became smitten with and eventually married a girl in the ink and paint department, Mary Louise Whitman.

He joined the Army and by 1942 he worked in the Signal Corps unit, planning animation sequences for training films. He also worked as a writer and storyboard artist on the "Private Snafu" series for Army-Navy Screen Magazine. The head of his unit was one Theodore Geisel.

Three years later he took his writing and storyboard talents to United Productions of America. Besides helping create Mr. Magoo, the time at UPA marked the beginning of his collaboration with Dr. Seuss. He worked as the co-writer of a screenplay for "Gerald McBoing-Boing", a record written by Dr. Seuss.

The Eastman family moved to Westport, Conneticut in 1954. Random House was publishing Dr. Seuss's Beginner Books series, and Geisel asked Eastman to write for it. Random House must have liked his work because by 1958 published his first book, Sam and the Firefly.

He wrote and illustrated the following books:

  • Are You my Mother?, 1960
  • Go, Dog. Go!, 1961
  • The Beginner Book Dictionary, 1964
  • Everything Happens To Aaron!, 1967 (no longer in print)
  • The Best Nest, 1968
  • Flap Your Wings, 1969
  • Big Dog…Little Dog, 1973
  • The Alphabet Book, 1974
  • What Time Is It?, 1978

Snow, published in 1962, he wrote only.

Eastman illustrated Fish Out Of Water (1961), Robert The Rose Horse (1962) and I’ll Teach My Dog 100 Words (1973).

This may be where the Eastman/Seuss confusion factor comes in. The cover of The Cat In The Hat Beginner Book Dictionary reads "by the Cat himself and P.D. Eastman". Dr. Seuss, using the "Cat" pseudonym, co-wrote the book with Eastman, who did all the illustrations.

If you have little children at home and do not have a P.D. Eastman book, shame on you. Probably his two most popular books are Are You My Mother? and Robert the Rose Horse. Both are wonderful read-aloud books, allowing the reader many opportunities for sound effects and interesting voices.

Information from Tony Eastman, one of his sons, posted on http://teachers.net/mentors/raa/topic219/

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