A series of unseen sketches drawn by Dr. Seuss will be edited by an “inclusive” group of writers and artists from “diverse racial backgrounds” before they are published for the first time.
The news — which has already spawned accusations of “woke-washing” on social media — was announced Wednesday by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, a company founded by the family of the famous children’s book author — whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel — after his death in 1991.
The sketches will serve as the basis for a new line of books that will be written and illustrated by the group — and follows his recent “cancellation” after six of his children’s books were yanked from publication because of alleged racist imagery.
Now, a new set up-and-coming authors and illustrators are set to create “inclusive” storylines inspired by the the drawings with the aim to “represent a diverse cross-section of racial backgrounds to represent as many families as possible,” according to reps for Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
Meanwhile, the books will be published in a new “Seuss Studios” series, to be aimed at readers aged 8 to 4. The first two titles are set to hit shelves next 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.
“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,” she added.
Brandt did not reveal the identities of the authors and illustrators who form the new group. The company says more details will be announced in the coming months.
The news has attracted backlash on Twitter, with one person writing: “Can’t they just make up their own woke stories without ruining the work of a beloved author? Was bad enough when they canceled his books.”
One the original Seuss sketches shows a small four-legged animal with humongous ears, while another is of a group of three multi-colored hummingbirds.
The announcement comes on what would have been Dr. Seuss’ 118th birthday, and exactly a year after it was announced six of his books would no longer be published.
Last year, Dr. Seuss Enterprises used the author’s birthday —March 2 — to announce it would cease publication of the half-dozen books, because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”
“We believed that it was time to take action,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Post in a statement at the time. “We listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field, too, as part of the review process.”
The titles were: “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.’’
On the same day, President Joe Biden removed mention of Seuss from the “Read Across America Day.”
While Dr. Seuss remains one of the world’s most popular children’s authors three decades after his death, his books have come under fire in recent years for how they portray several minority groups.
“If I Ran the Zoo,” for instance, has been panned for depicting Africans as “potbellied” and “thick-lipped,” as one biography of Seuss put it.
It also described Asian characters as “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant” from “countries no one can spell,” notes a 2019 paper on Geisel’s work published in the journal Research on Diversity in Youth Literature.
And “Mulberry Street,” the first children’s book Geisel published under his pen name, contained a controversial illustration of an Asian man holding chopsticks and a bowl of rice whom the text called “A Chinese man Who eats with sticks.”
However, news of the six titles’ being “censored” sparked a firestorm, with critics accusing politically correct parents , politicians and companies of “cancelling” the famous author.
In the wake of the news, Seuss books, including famed titles such as “The Cat in the Hat,” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Fox in Socks,” shot to the top of Amazon’s best-seller charts.
— Associated Press contributed to this report