Hello, two-legged readers. Your literate cat, Lucinda, is here to give you another of my cat book reviews.
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. You two-leggeds do come up with some good ideas! I really like this holiday, as I also get to enjoy special treats. It is kind of you to share your food with your pets. We like to have a reason to celebrate, too, and some tasty morsels of turkey seem to me like a sufficient reason for a party.
This Week’s Book: The Cat in the Hat
In this post I will review Dr. Seuss’s book, The Cat in the Hat. When I first read the book, I was surprised that it was so easy to read. Then the Cantankerous Cat Lady (a.k.a. CCL) explained that it was written in very simple language so young children just learning to read could understand it.
Frankly, I wish more of your two-legged books were written this way, as they are much easier for me to read as well.
What Kind of Drawings Are These?
The drawings in the book bothered me at first. Then the CCL told me to look up “cartoon characters.” The drawings in The Cat in the Hat definitely appear to be the kind of made-up images you would find in a cartoon.
That information comforted me, as the cat looks like no cat I have ever seen. First of all, though we can occasionally stand on our hind legs, we walk on all fours. What kind of cat is this creature who walks on two legs? And the hat — no cat I know would willingly wear that hat.
Even worse is the necktie. Oh, I guess if you were used to wearing a collar it wouldn’t be so bad, but I don’t want to ever have to wear a collar. That bow tie is too much of a reminder for me.
Why So Many Rules?
One thing I do approve of in this story: The cat seems to be fond of breaking rules. He is a free spirit. He will not be hampered by any restrictions that others try to place on him. That behavior, at least, is cat-like.
Even the fish in the story thinks the rules must be obeyed. He is a fuddy-duddy fish. He likes his life to be calm and contained, and wants the world to be no bigger than his fishbowl. How does he stand it?
On the other hand, though I don’t like restrictions and I do like to do a bit of free roaming outside now and then, I love my routine. My CCL and I agree on a daily schedule, and I expect her to honor that schedule. For example, if it is time for a meal, she feeds me. If it is playtime, she plays with me. She is quite good at sticking to the schedule we have set up.
At least the cat must have been on his best behavior, because he didn’t eat the fish.
The Cat in the Hat Arrives at the House
In the story, Dick and Sally are bored. Their mother is out, and they are cooped up inside because it is raining.
The cat comes to visit and does his best to entertain the two little ones. They, however, have been so hampered by rules and regulations that they cannot just enjoy the mayhem. Instead, they are horrified. So is the fish, who tells the cat he needs to leave.
I must admit that, if I had been in the house with those children when the cat came to the door, I would have run and hid. No way would I want anything to do with such an unlikely cat. I’d have run to the mother’s bedroom and crawled under the bed. I would have hid in the farthest, darkest corner. Only a snake could have reached me.
Thankfully, the cat did not bring a snake with him. However, if he had sent a snake in after me, I would have done my best to kill it. Cats can kill snakes, you know.
Alarming Things Done By the Cat
Such interesting things that cat does — He balances on a big ball and grasps as many objects as he can. That, too, makes me wonder if he is really a cat. His front legs have extra-long toes, giving him the ability to pick up many objects. I do admire two-legged hands, as they can be used for so many things. If he really is a cat, how does he do so many uncatlike things?
So he’s balancing on the ball, holding many objects. Then he falls on his head. If I had been hiding under the bed, when he crashed to the floor, the loud noise would make me flinch, and then burrow deeper into my hidden corner.
Next, the cat balances the fish on the tip of an umbrella, and the fish keep scolding him. The cat ignores the fish, who probably didn’t realize how lucky he was that the cat didn’t just eat him.
New Characters Are Introduced
The cat brings in a big red box from outside. He opens it and releases two creatures. They have blue hair and red suits. Such an imagination! Have you ever seen such beings? They are introduced as Thing 1 and Thing 2.
My curiosity might have gotten the best of me, and I might have stolen out from under the bed to take a look at Thing 1 and Thing 2. Not really a good idea. I am small, so I have to survive by wits and caution. That’s why you two-leggeds say that curiosity killed the cat. I must keep my curiosity under control.
Again, the children watch in horror as the Things break many rules. They fly a kite in the house. They knock pictures off the wall. They even handle the mother’s new gown.
Then the fish sees the mother coming home. Dick catches Thing 1 and Thing 2 with a net and the cat puts them back in their box and takes them outside.
As Dick and Sally are trying to figure out how to explain the mess to their mother, the cat comes back in with a strange machine. In a flash, he cleans everything up with the machine and leaves before the mother comes in.
When she does, she asks the two children what they did while she was gone. The children are silent.
If you were in this situation, how would you answer your mother?
Of course, this is a completely made-up story. Not only did the characters look strange, but they also talk, even the cat and the fish.
Evaluation of the Story Characters
Of course, I can’t sniff this cat’s nose to learn what kind of animal he is. However, I can tell a lot by his actions. He is a rebel; a troublemaker who tries to convince others that he can be trusted. He is a trickster, working to corrupt the innocent. But at least he has spirit, and does whatever he feels is appropriate.
And, finally, he does what is right, cleaning up his mess so the children won’t get into lots of trouble.
The fish, now, lives in a world confined to the limits of his fishbowl. He just wants all to be the same, always. He believes that rules are meant to be followed to the letter. To me, he is a dull and uninspiring character. I would have eaten him when I had the chance.
Research from the CCL
My CCL has done a bit of research on the author of the book and wants to add a comment, so I gave her permission to do so.
Theodor Geisel took the pen name of Dr. Seuss, and wrote the Cat in the Hat books. The first book, written in 1957, was created in response to a debate going on in the United States at the time. The debate was about ineffective traditional primers used to teach children to read. Geisel was to write a more entertaining one.
He was given a word list, and all the book’s words had to be on that list. He was so frustrated by the list that he scanned it to find words that rhymed. He decided he would create a story from the first two rhyming words he found on the list. These were cat and hat.
Geisel said that of all the books he had written, he was proudest of the Cat in the Hat, because it helped do away with the old Dick and Jane primers.
I hope you enjoyed this review. I’ll be writing another in a week or so. If you have a favorite children’s book you would like me to review, please mention it in the comment section at the end of the post.
If you have young two-leggeds just learning to read, you would do well to obtain a copy of this book. Here is a hard-cover edition of the book from Barnes and Noble, if you would like to purchase it.