Allison's Book Bag

A Protege of Dr. Seuss

Posted on: September 8, 2014

PDEastmanThe author of one of my favorite picture books growing up, PD Eastman spent the bulk of his career writing stories for television. In addition to his studio experience, Eastman authored and illustrated children’s books.


PD Eastman was born in Massachusetts in 1909. After graduating from the National Academy of Design in New York City, Eastman moved to Los Angeles where he began work in the story department of Walt Disney Productions, doing production design and animation. Later, he also worked for other major entertainment studios such as Warner Brother’s Cartoons and United Productions of America. Some of his high-profile animation projects included the famous Mr. Magoo series and the animated comedy Gerald McBoing-Boing, which won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Subject. Eastman also belonged to Local Number Eight Hundred And Thirty-Nine of Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists, the trade union to which cartoonists in the United States belonged.

In 1941, Eastman married Mary Louise Whitman of California. The couple had two sons, Alan Eastman and Peter Anthony (Tony) Eastman. The letter went on to become a children’s author and animator himself. He directed video adaptations of Richard Scary’s children’s books, as well contributed new illustrations to several reissues of his father’s books.

When Eastman enlisted in the army in 1942, he was assigned to the Signal Corps Film Unit, headed by Theodor Geisel who would later become the famous Dr. Seuss. For the army, Eastman planned animation for orientation and training films. He also wrote scripts and drew storyboards for the Private Snafu series for Army-Navy Screen Magazine.


In 1954, Eastman and his family moved from Los Angeles to Westport, Connecticut. While doing freelance comic book and television advertising work, he was approached by Theodor Geisel to write for a new series of children’s books which were being started at Random House called Beginner Books. Eastman wrote many books for children, in his own distinct style, many of which were in this series.

Eastman joined several eminent organizations throughout his career, including the Westport Artists, the Screen Cartoonist’s Guild, the Audubon Society, and the American Civil Liberties Union. By the time of his death in 1986, Eastman had written and/or illustrated eighteen children’s books, including Are You My Mother?, which I’ll review here tomorrow. Save the date: September 9! To date, Random House has sold more than 31 million copies of his books.


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