Monday 7 March 2011

Cat In The Hat Book

Buy the CAT IN THE HAT book here. This is a book written for primary school children in the age range of six to seven that was created in response to a May 25, 1954 Life magazine article that was critical of school books for primary school children on reading in the United States.

William Ellsworth Spaulding (director of Houthton Mifflin's education division) invited Theodor Geisel, whose pseudonym was Dr. Seuss, to write a more effective and interesting book. The result was the Cat in the Hat book.

The commission to write the book came with what might be considered strict conditions, namely that it should be written using 225 words that children of this age range should know. Dr. Seuss actually wrote the book using 223 words that where on the list of 348 words that could be used. Dr. Seuss added 13 words that were not on the list of 348! He stuck pretty closely to the specification therefore. The limitations on vocabulary made it more difficult to write. It took nine months.

The first Cat in the Hat book appeared in 1957. The now famous cat was tall with you guessed it, a hat:

See base of post for copyright issues

I have not read the book but the story line or plot is said to be "Kafkaesque" meaning involved, complicated. Wikipedia describe it as chaotic and exuberant. The lives of a brother and sister left alone in their home on a rainy day (is that correct in a modern world?!) are brightened up by an anthropomorphic cat who turns the house into a "chaotic playground". The childrens' play is unrestricted. The story is interesting and above all it teaches reading.

The Cat in the Hat book was intially published by Random House but due to its success an independent publishing company was formed. It was called Beginner Books and Theodor Geisel was made the  president and editor.

A series of six books followed.


The picture of the cover of the book is reproduced under fair use adopting the arguments expounded by the Wikipedia authors in their article on the same subject.

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