The mayor of Springfield invited the Trump family to visit his city after a Cambridge librarian refused to accept Dr. Seuss books sent to her school by first lady Melania Trump for National Read a Book Day this month.
Liz Phipps Soeiro, a library media specialist at the Cambridgeport School, made national headlines this week when she published a blog post explaining why she was sending a set of 10 books by the celebrated author back to the White House.
In her post, which was addressed to the first lady, Phipps Soeiro said other schools could benefit from the children’s books. She also called Dr. Seuss — his real name is Theodor Geisel — a “tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature” and said the illustrations featured in his pages are “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”
But Mayor Domenic J. Sarno rebuked Phipps Soeiro’s comments Thursday and stood up for Dr. Seuss, who was born and lived in Springfield during his early years.
“One fish — two fish — red fish — blue fish’ — I think her comments ‘stink’ and are ridiculous towards our beloved Dr. Seuss,” Sarno said in a statement on the city’s Facebook page.
Sarno said that Phipps Soeiro’s claims that Dr. Seuss’ books are riddled with racist propaganda is “political correctness at its worst.”
He said the books, which the city could gladly take off of Cambridge’s hands, continue to be a “strong tool in our city’s marked improvements in our reading retention programs.”
Sarno gave “kudos” to Trump for her donation and invited the Trumps to stop by and check out the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss, the first museum dedicated to the author and illustrator.
“We’re extremely proud to be home to the one and only Dr. Seuss Museum in the world,” he said. “[We] would be honored to have the First Lady and President Donald J. Trump to visit.”
The first lady sent Dr. Seuss books to schools across the country this month for National Read a Book Day, which was Sept. 6.
“Remember, the key to achieving your dreams begins with learning to read,” she wrote in a letter to students who received the books. “Find what you enjoy, anything that interests you, and read about it. Every page will take you on an exciting journey.”
A few weeks later, Phipps Soeiro penned her letter to Trump, which was featured on the Horn Book website. The post immediately drew both ire and praise as it went viral, and led to the Cambridge Public Schools system distancing itself from the author’s opinions.
Officials said phone lines were flooded with calls Thursday from “people who feel strongly, in one way or another, offended” by the letter.
Phipps Soeiro’s post also received a response from her intended audience — the White House.
“Turning the gesture of sending young school children books into something divisive is unfortunate,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told the Washington Post. “But the First Lady remains committed to her efforts on behalf of children everywhere.”Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear. Dialynn Dwyer, of the Boston.com staff, contributed to this report.