The Cat in the Hat: Book fun facts
I won't waste your time summarizing and reviewing a book you're already familiar with.
Instead, let's focus on some things you might not know.
The "word cloud" at right represents all 236 words that appear in Seuss's The Cat in the Hat book, minus common words like "I," "the," and "and".
The bigger the word appears, the more times it appears in the book.
Why did I create a word cloud?...
Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) wrote The Cat in the Hat book largely in response to a 1954 Life Magazine article decrying the state of beginning reading texts in the schools. (Think Dick, Jane and Spot.)
The article said, essentially, that these easy reading texts were boring kids out of their minds and turning them off of reading!
Seuss's publisher challenged him to write a book with a very limited vocabulary and short words. Well, as we know in retrospect, Seuss worked magic. With a tiny pile of little words, he wove a story that we all remember.
The word cloud shows you what he was working with!
The Cat in the Hat book has 1626 words. Divide that by a vocabulary of 236 to determine that each word was used, on average, almost 7 times.
Only one word has 3 syllables. (Can you find it? Hint: it's at the bottom of the word cloud and you'll have to squint.) 14 have 2, and the rest have only one.
Two compound words are the longest words in the book: "playthings" and "something."
The Cat in the Hat book has 61 pages. Compare that to today's picture books, which tend only to have 28.
According to Publishers Weekly, as of 2007 the book had been printed in 20 languages and sold over 250 million copies worldwide.
Seuss said that the challenge of writing the book with so few words caused it to take 9 months to write. Adding to the challenge...
The number three. You may think of the book as being written in simple rhymes, but you'd be wrong! The meter of those rhymes is something called anapestic tetrameter.
"Have no fear!" said the cat.
I've bolded the words that have an accent, a strong beat. Seuss's infectious rhythms are a product of this pattern of two weak beats followed by a strong (often rhyming) beat. Beware bad imitators!
Lots of good fun that is funny
Some high school teachers and college professors have used The Cat in the Hat book to help explain Freudian theory. The fish is the superego, and Thing One and Thing Two represent the id!
Note that in both this book and its sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, the kids are home alone. Today we might call them "latchkey kids."
Mom's return is suspended in time! The fish spots the children's mother coming up the walk on page 47, yet she doesn't walk in the door until page 61. During that time...
Slow walker! Must be those high heels.
The Cat in the Hat book on Amazon.
More classic picture books.
Read more of Steve's children's book reviews.
Word cloud courtesy of Wordle.