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Literature: The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat is a children's storybook written by Dr. Seuss in 1957, that started off his series of books for beginning readers. The story opens on two children who are stuck inside their house due to rain while their mother is out, when they suddenly get a visit from the eponymous character, a six-foot-tall cat who wears a tall striped hat. The Cat offers to entertain them by performing various tricks, with help from his funny-looking assistants, Thing One and Thing Two, despite the objections from the kids' pet fish. Eventually, after the Cat and the Things end up making a mess of the house, the kids take control of the situation, and the Cat makes up for it by cleaning the place on his way out right before the mother returns.

The Cat became one of Dr. Seuss' most enduring characters, returning the following year in a sequel titled The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, in which he leaves a "cat ring" in the bathtub and spends the rest of the book spreading the spot around in an attempt to get rid of it. In addition, he hosted three other books by Seuss and also served as the narrator for the otherwise unrelated Daisy-Head Mayzie (published after Seuss' death).

It got adapted in 1971 by DePatie-Freleng Studios which expands upon the storyline. It was followed up with Dr. Seuss On the Loose (in which the Cat introduced animated adaptations of The Sneetches, The Zax, and Green Eggs and Ham) and The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat (in which the Cat matches wits with the title character of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!). The Cat later starred in puppet form in The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss. The original book also got a Living Books title.

It was adapted to film in 2003, but got critically panned, especially by the Geisel estate that no longer gives support for live-action adaptations for Dr. Seuss films.There is apparently an animated reboot in production at Illumination Entertainment, effectively putting the live action film under Canon Discontinuity.

Is currently starring in the Edutainment Show The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! on PBS.

The books contain examples of:

  • Constrained Writing: It was written using a specific constrained vocabulary consisting only of words you'd expect a six-year-old to know.
  • Matryoshka Object: The Cat has Little Cat A under his hat, who has Little Cat B under its hat and so forth. Underneath Cat Z's hat is the "Voom", which unleashes some kind of divide by zero effect only for when the Godzilla Threshold has been reached (in the case, cleaning up the yard.)
  • No Name Given: The boy who narrates the story is never given one.
  • Only Sane Man: The Fish.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The Cat is a Trickster Archetype ‹bermensch who calls for tearing down the old social order. His foil is a fish who insists on maintaining respect for traditional authority figures.
  • Person with the Clothing
  • Rain, Rain, Go Away
  • Reset Button: Before he leaves, the Cat always manages to undo all the damage he's caused.
  • Screwy Squirrel: The Cat
  • Technology Marches On: The idea that children would be sitting around with nothing to do because it's raining outside is rather quaint today. Nowadays the Cat in the Hat would have to tear them away from their video games.

A Cat in ParisAnimal Title IndexThe Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!
The Catcher in the RyeLiterature of the 1950sThe Caves of Steel
The Butter Battle BookPicture BooksClifford the Big Red Dog
The Catastrophe of the Emerald QueenChildren's LiteratureCat Royal

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