The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss

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The Cat in the Hat: Green Back Book (Dr Seuss 60th Anniversary Edition) by Dr Seuss

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: A classic picture book, with trademark Seussian quirky illustrations and playful, rhythmic, repetitive text written using just 236 words, this slightly anarchic classic will delight children while motivating emerging readers to practice their skills.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: March 2007
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007247912

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Dr Seuss started writing his books with the idea of providing texts that would make learning to read and practicing reading fun and as easy as possible. Only careful examination of the illustrations, especially those including people and not bizarre fantastic creatures, reveals that many of his books are half a century old.

His heady mix of illustrations for which the word quirky must have been invented and the text, which provides the verbal equivalent of those illustrations, is even now inimitable.

There is an anarchic element in all Dr Seuss books, both in the storylines (in those that actually have a discernible one) and particularly in the linguistic aspects of the text. They are bit like if a principle of free association was applied to pure language, as when small children playing with language in a way that can leave more traditionally-minded parents flabbergasted at the complete nonsense that gets uttered. The genius of Dr Seuss lies in the fact that his books stay just about this side of sane while retaining the free, rather manic, a bit hyper quality of a child running high on their own creativity and laughter.

The Cat in a Hat is amongst the relatively more conventional of Dr Seuss stories, in the sense that it actually has a clear storyline, the story involves two normal human children, in a normal house, and only when their mother goes out on a wet, boring day, the Seussian magic starts with the appearance of a Cat. The cat plays tricks, shows off, involves children in them, and finally lets out of a box two Things which bring the mayhem a few levels up. I love the fact that they are just called Things (Thing one and Thing two, to be precise): it shouldn't work but it does.

As the return of the mother gets near, children are left with a problem of getting rid of the Cat-created mess, and with an even bigger dilemma: should they tell their mother about the Cat's visit? Well... /What would YOU do/ If your mother asked YOU?

It's hard to believe that The Cat in a Hat uses just 236 words, none of them above two syllables (given to Seuss by educationalists when he started to write). The text flows perfectly, and although obviously simple, it never appears stilted. The rhyme, the rhythm and repetition make it easier to read (both for an emergent reader child and for a parent reading aloud to a pre-reader). In fact, some Dr Seuss books can be a struggle to read aloud for a non-native like me, because of their tongue-twisting character ( Fox In Socks is a prime example), but The Cat in a Hat poses no such problems.

I can't really think of a criticism to make of The Cat in a Hat. It's fun, it can be used educationally, it is adventurous and anarchic like only the best excesses of juvenile imaginations can be, but it actually ends up with a big tidy up. If you have children aged 3 to 6 who have not experienced this vintage Dr Seuss, go and get it now. And no, the movies don't count.

Big thanks to the publishers for reminding TheBookBag of this fantastic text!

Other unmissable picture books classics with a slightly unruly spirit include Judith Kerr's The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. For the ultimate Dr Seuss collection try A Classic Case of Dr Seuss by Dr Seuss,

Booklists.jpg The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss is in the Top Ten Timeless Picture Books To Treasure Forever.

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Buy The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss at


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Sue said:

Strangely enough my daughter never really liked Cat in the Hat - she didn't like the fact that it didn't make sense!

Jill said:

It's just pure genius.

Kerry said:

My personal favourite has always been Green Eggs and Ham. The magic Dr Seuss - I still pick up these books when I have an idle five minutes and have a chuckle to myself.

Jes said:

I was brought up on Dr Seuss ~ I remember "Green Eggs and Ham" and one morning making scrambled eggs with green food colouring. . .

Of course, my parents didn't appreciate it . . .

Jill Mutch said:

Enjoyed by young and old! Classics