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The Cat in the Hat

From Academic Kids

The Cat in the Hat is a fictional cat created by Dr. Seuss. He appears in two of Seuss's rhymed children's books.

Contents

The Cat in the Hat

In the first of the series (1957), the Cat brings a cheerful and exuberant form of chaos to the household of two young children one day while their mother is out. Bringing with him Thing One and Thing Two, the Cat does every trick a naughty child might wish, vainly opposed by the family pet, who is a sentient and articulate goldfish. The children (Sally and her older brother, who is the narrator) ultimately prove exemplary latchkey children, capturing the Things and bringing the Cat under control. He cleans up the house on his way out, disappearing seconds before the mother arrives.

The book has been very popular since its publication, and a logo featuring the Cat adorns all Dr. Seuss publications and animated films produced after Cat in the Hat.

Seuss wrote the book because he felt that there should be more entertaining and fun material for beginning readers; the text includes only 220 common words. From a literary point of view, the book is a feat of skill, since it simultaneously maintains a strict triple meter, keeps to a tiny vocabulary, and tells a very entertaining tale. Literary critics occasionally write recreational essays about the work, having fun with issues such as the (slightly disturbing) absence of the mother and the psychological or symbolic characterizations of Cat, Things, and Fish.

History

Dr. Seuss books were created to supplement the 'look say' reading programs taught in schools. Dr. Seuss' publisher supplied him with a sight vocabulary of 223 words which he was to use to write his books, a sight vocabulary that was in harmony with the sight words the child would be learning in school.

Dr. Seuss in an interview he gave in Arizona magazine in June 1981 claimed the book took nine months to complete due to the difficulty in writing a book from the 223 selected words. He continued to explain that the title for the book came from his desire to have the title rhyme and the first two words that he could find from the list, were 'cat' and 'hat'. Dr. Seuss also regrets the association of his book and the 'look say' reading method adopted during the Dewey revolt in the 1920's by expressing the opinion "I think killing phonics was one of the greatest causes of illiteracy in the country."

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

The Cat in the Hat made a return appearance in this 1958 sequel. On this occasion, he leaves Thing One and Thing Two at home, but does bring along Little Cat A, nested inside his hat. Little Cat A doffs his hat to reveal Little Cat B, who in turn reveals C, and so on down to the microscopic Little Cat Z, who turns out to be the key to the plot. The crisis involves a pink bathtub ring.

The book ends in a burst of flamboyant versification, with the full list of little cats arranged into a metrically-perfect rhymed quatrain.

Adaptations

Missing image
The_Cat_in_the_Hat_(Animated).jpg
"You will note, I am neat - wiped my feet on the mat."

Television

A 30-minute animated musical adaptation of The Cat in the Hat was produced for television in 1971. One of the producers was Chuck Jones, who also produced the animated adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. Allan Sherman provided the voice of the Cat.

The special loosely follows the shell of the book's plot, but throws in some new material to fill out the show's 26-minute time slot. After the Cat makes his entrance and fools around a bit, the kids request that he leave. He does so, but then comes back in, claiming that his "moss-covered three-handled family gredunza" has been stolen, and he accuses the Fish, who is given the name Karlos K. Krinklebine in the special. The Cat sings a ballad about the loss of his treasured keepsake and then tries to describe it to the kids, even though they don't understand what he's talking about. The Cat then leads the kids on a search through the house, using his method of "Calculatus Eliminatus" (better known as the process of elimination), which involves writing marks on every place they've already checked. This makes a mess of everything, and Mr. Krinklebine demands that the Cat leave, but it only prompts the Cat to sing another song, this one about feeling negative. Then he proceeds to put the cynical fish to sleep by singing a lullaby. Once that's done, he brings out Thing One and Thing Two, singing to the kids that "they can find anything under the sun", all the while the Things play sports using Mr. Krinklebine's fishbowl as the ball/puck. (According to them, every house they visit has a pessimist fish.) Mr. Krinklebine then accuses the Cat of not being a real Cat ("Whoever heard of a six-foot cat?!"), and his hat of not being a real hat. This cues the wackiest song in the special, where the Cat sings out his name in practically every other language. The song becomes so catchy that everyone, even Krinklebine, joins in. Just as they finish up the song, though, they hear the mother coming home. The Cat then proceeds to clean up the house, just like in the book. Just as he leaves, the mother returns, telling the kids that she just saw a Cat in a Hat "going down the street with a moss-covered three-handled family gredunza."

The special is currently available on DVD (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00009ZVNN/qid=1102174393/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/104-1603317-4556718?v=glance&s=dvd).

Although the original book's sequel did not receive an animated adaptation, the Cat went on to appear in several more Dr. Seuss specials. In 1973, there came Dr. Seuss on the Loose, where Allan Sherman reprised his role as the Cat. Here, the Cat appeared in bridging sequences where he introduced animated adaptations of three other Seuss stories - The Sneetches, The Zax, and Green Eggs and Ham. Then, in 1982, there came The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, where the Cat, now voiced by Mason Adams, meets the title character of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and sets out to reform his new green adversary. Later, in 1995, the Cat appeared again, this time with the voice of Henry Gibson, to narrate Daisy-Head Mayzie, a special based on one of Dr. Seuss' lost works. (It was later adaptated into a book.) Most recently, in 1996, he starred on the Muppet-like kids' show The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, where he was voiced and puppeteered by Bruce Lanoil.

Film

Long after Dr. Seuss's death, his widow Audrey Geisel authorized a very different filmed version, released in late 2003. This was a live-action movie, featuring Mike Myers in the title role. The film filled out its 82 minutes by adding new plot and characters quite different from those of the original story, and the script strongly emphasized sexual and scatological humor.

This filmed Cat in the Hat was flayed by critics, receiving an average grade of D+ from critics in the interpretation of Yahoo's film website (see link below). A characteristic evaluation was that of Ty Burr, writing in the Boston Globe: "The big-screen Cat represents everything corrupt, bloated, and wrong with mainstream Hollywood movies." A number of critics also said that the MPAA should have given the film a stricter rating than "PG".

The film was also generally hated by ordinary viewers, with many reporting feelings of anger and indignation. Web data suggest that the most harshly negative opinions were held by individuals who knew Seuss's book and felt that the film was a desecration. However, the film did receive some A+ ratings, notably from fans of scatological humor and of Mike Myers's previous work. Fans say it should be watched with a lighthearted attitude and without expecting it to be the same as the books.

Box office receipts for the film topped all competition for the first two weekends, then plummeted. U.S. box office receipts ultimately failed to match production costs, although it appears likely that the film will turn a profit once foreign receipts and home video sales are factored in.

External links

ISBNs

Both books were published by Random House.

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