The Cat in the Hat by American author Theodor Geisel (using the pen name Dr Seuss) is a timeless classic of sing-song rhyme and zesty characters. The 1957 book tells the age-old tale of bored children being tempted into trouble in search for some fun. No wonder it has been loved by generations!
‘The Cat in the Hat’: Synopsis
Sally and her brother are alone at home with only their pet fish for company. With the rain pouring down, they are confined to the house…and boredom.
Out of the blue, a cat in a striped hat appears in their doorway. The cat and his troublemaking friends, Thing 1 and Thing 2, promise the children some fun and games. As he sets about trying to amuse the two children, he turns the house upside down and incurs the wrath of the fish.
With their mother on her way home, will Sally, her brother and the fish get the house in order? Or will the cat — and his unusual friends — continue to wreak havoc?
Is ‘The Cat in the Hat’ for the child in your life?
The Cat in the Hat originated from a challenge to use just 250 words from the Spaulding Spelling List to write a children’s story. As such, it’s great for early readers who will benefit from Dr Seuss’s clever and delightful rhyme.
For the same reason, The Cat in the Hat is also perfect for reading out loud. The sketch illustrations by Dr Seuss himself aptly convey the flurry of movement the cat brings into the house.
Children will also love the animal characters. The cat steals the show, of course, but his interactions with the stern fish add a lot of zing to the plot.
Because of its popularity, children can easily discuss it at school with their friends, since their friends have likely also read the book.
Important lessons for children
Since The Cat in the Hat already hit the shelves in 1957, adults today probably also read the book as children. Adult readers, who nurture a tender spot for the fun-loving cat and the catchy rhyme, can address some issues — from cleaning up your mess to strangers — with their children.
The premise, an uninvited stranger entering a house with only children at home, is not something many parents would condone.
Furthermore, neither of the children is shown to actually enjoy the cat’s antics. This can be a prompt to discuss peer pressure and situations in which adults make children feel uncomfortable.
And the ending — “What would you do? If your mother asked you?” — could be further used to discuss the secrecy that often accompanies abuse.
More about the author Dr Seuss
Theodore Geisel was an American author who was born in 1904 and passed away in 1991. He wrote The Cat in the Hat in 1957. Using fewer than 250 words wasn’t easy, though.
According to an excerpt from Brian Jay Jones’s Becoming Dr Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination, the author actually struggled to find two rhyming words on the Spaulding Spelling List to base the story on. Luckily, he stumbled upon “cat” and “hat” and the famous tale was born!
Dr Seuss also published How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1957. Another of his well-known books is Green Eggs and Ham which he wrote in 1960. Geisel won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for his work in children’s literature.
The Cat in the Hat is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. It costs R149 at Exclusive Books.