The first time I remember really loving books was in my next-door-neighbor Hannah Gubbler’s fallout shelter. The Cold War was going on strong, we were both five and Fox in Sox had just been published. I didn’t generally hang out with girls, but Hannah was pretty good at wiffle ball and could catch a frog so we got to be good friends. One day when I went over to Hannah’s to play all she wanted to do was show me the new Dr. Suess book. That’s when I learned about the Gubbler’s fallout shelter. Hannah explained to me that because her family was Mormon they believed in keeping survival provisions in case of a catastrophe.
My eyes opened wide as we entered this special place. The shelves were lined with everything anyone could ever need: cans of Delmonte and Jolly Green Giant vegetables, bottled water, a generator…
Then Hannah pointed to a row of neatly arranged picture books on a lower shelf. I couldn’t believe my eyes. These were not just any picture books. This was what I assumed must have been the finest collection of Dr. Seuss books ever assembled! There was Cat in The Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Hop on Pop and everything. Needless to say we didn’t wait for Armageddon to devour all those Dr. Seuss books. It felt like an entire new world had opened up to us. We stayed down there reading until Mrs. Gubbler chased us out.
In school the next day we had one of those nuclear attack drills where all the kids were instructed to hide under our desks. Even at five I knew hiding under a desk wasn’t going to save me in the event of a nuclear war. But as I curled up under my desk I was comforted to know that, even if I were slowly perishing from the effects of radiation poisoning, there was a place I could go that had snacks — and most importantly — plenty of Dr. Seuss.
About Lee Harper
Lee Harper is an award winning picture book author/illustrator best known for his books Woolbur, Turkey Claus, and The Emperor’s Cool Clothes. In addition to creating picture books for children, Mr. Harper loves to visit schools. To learn more about Mr. Harper’s books and school visits, please visit LeeHarperart.com.