The Cat in the Hat
The Cat. . .in. . .the. . .Hat. The Cat in the Hat is probably the best known of any of Dr. Seuss’s books, with the possible exception of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but really most people are more familiar with the Grinches’s Christmas special or movie then they are with the book. The Cat in the Hat is iconic. Probably the most recognizable face out there, maybe with the exception of Charlie Sheen.
We are told that Theodor Geisel, Dr. Seuss, wrote the Cat in the Hat in response to an article published in Life magazine in May of 1954. The article written by John Hersey was critical of school primers, in the article which was ten pages long Hersey wrote “In the classroom boys and girls are confronted with six books that have insipid illustrations depicting the slicked-up lives of other children. [Existing primers] feature abnormally courteous, unnaturally clean boys and girls. . . .” Of course those were the Dick and Jane books.
A friend of Seuss’, publisher William Ellsworth Spaulding, challenged Suess to “Write me a story that first-graders can't put down!” He gave Seuss a list of 348 words that every six year old should know and insisted the book should use no more than 225 of those word.
The Cat in the Hat uses 223 of the words that appeared on the list and 13 words that didn’t. Seuss wanted the title to rhyme and Cat and Hat were the first two words on the list that rhymed and worked as a title.
The story is 1629 words long and uses 236 different words. For those who are interested there is only one three syllable word, – “another” –14 words which have two syllables and the 221 remaining words are monosyllabic. The longest words in the book are “something” and “playthings”.
You know the story, the narrator, who is unnamed, and his sister Sally have been left home on a cold and rainy day, which begs the question: What kind of mother would leave her two little kids with only a fish to watch them? Tell you what that lady would be charged today with being an unfit parent and her kids would be taken away. But it was a different time, many of us can probably remember being left home alone with a list of rules and no fish.
And into their lives arrives The Cat in the Hat and his two friends Thing one and Thing Two. Against the strenuous objection of the Fish, the Cat in the Hat and his cohorts turn the house into absolute chaos. Ending with things broken and bent. (Read from book) The mess is cleaned up only when Sally and her brother realize that their mother’s return in imminent and then they are left with the dilemma of what to tell their mother about the events that had gone on. (read last page)
So what do we learn from the book? Well, my first idea was to draw a comparison between the story of the Cat and the Hat and the story from the Book of Genesis about the temptation of Adam and Eve. Then I realized that using the Cat in the Hat as an analogy for Satan probably wasn’t the best way to win friends and influence people and would end up doing irreparable damage to any children listening, so we aren’t going there.