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The Cat in the Hat    by Dr. Seuss order for
Cat in the Hat
by Dr. Seuss
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 1957 (1957)
Hardcover, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kids love chaos; it's their natural element. But normally its creation is discouraged by parents, teachers and other caregivers. Dr. Seuss allows kids to revel in chaos without guilt in The Cat in the Hat (after all, the children in the story are only innocent onlookers) and brings back memories to parents of their own days of havoc.

It all begins with two kids alone at home on a wet, boring day ... 'all we could do was to / Sit! / Sit! / Sit! / Sit! / And we did not like it. / Not one little bit.' Help arrives (with a BUMP) in the form of a lopsidedly top-hatted cat. The goldfish tries to hold back the tide as a Jiminy Cricket type conscience, but gets spun like a top for his trouble; 'No, I do not like it, / Not one little bit!'

As if the cat's chaos quotient were not high enough on his own, he brings in a large red box, from which erupt Thing One and Thing Two. These Things do everything two bored kids know are not permitted to them: they fly kites inside the house and run about 'With big bumps, jumps and kicks / And with hops and big thumps / And all kinds of bad tricks.'

Then Mom is spotted outside and it's time to end the fun. The Things are caught in a net and the chastened Cat pulls a final trick out of his headpiece and is gone 'With a tip of his hat.' It's the perfect ending. There is a small lesson ('I always pick up all my playthings'); there are no consequences; the kids keep their secret; and parents can discuss 'What would you do / If your mother asked you?' with their own little ones.

Given its enormous worldwide popularity The Cat in the Hat is available in a wide variety of formats, starting with a sequel, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. There is a beginner book, a minibook with finger puppet, a songbook, a flap book, a growth guide, dictionaries in several languages, a classroom guide and an educational series, The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library.

And versions are available in multiple languages including Spanish, French and Latin: El gato en el sombrero, Le Chat Au Chapeau and Cattus Petasatus; just to show that kids all around the world love chaos.

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