01 March 2007

This Is Not a Good Game

Fuse #8's link to the "Dylan Hears a Who" website prompted me to listen to Dr. Seuss's text of The Cat in the Hat again, just in time for Random House's extensive marketing campaign for the book’s fiftieth anniversary.

What a subversive book that is! Politeness (e.g., shaking hands with strangers) gets kids in trouble. At the end the narrator asks readers whether they would keep a visit from the title character secret from their mothers.

Remember how ten years ago the giant Cat in the Hat balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade knocked a lamppost onto spectator Kathleen Caronna, injuring her badly? (Ms. Caronna seems to have recovered as well as can be expected, only to have a small plane crash into her empty bedroom last year. She may be one of those people, like Rulon Gardner, that things happen to.)

Now who could have seen that parade-balloon accident coming? Well, the fish, for one. And any six-year-old who'd read the book. The Cat in the Hat is not nice. He is not simply Supergrover with a taller hat. He's a figure of misrule and chaos. As well as, of course, a beloved symbol of literacy in America.


Chris Barton said...

It's difficult to imagine a new picture book about home invasion faring as well and becoming as beloved as The Cat in the Hat, but maybe I'm just not thinking subversively enough.

Indeterminacy said...

As I child I only had the Green Eggs and Ham, but somehow I never liked it much. So I never got into Dr. Seuss, except for the the Grinch and Horton TV classics, which were TV favorites of mine (growing up in the 60's).

But when my own son was in the Dr. Seuss age we enjoyed reading The Cat in the Hat books together (in English). We live in Germany, and just about the time the new Grinch movie came out they also came out with translations of Cat in the Hat, and other titles, which no one had attempted. Dr. Seuss doesn't translate well.

I had the idea to write a parody of Green Eggs and Ham once, and looked at the other parodies out there. There were many, and all of them that I saw were awful. They either broke the one-syllable word rule, or recycled the rhymes, with much weaker texts. The trick, in my parody, was to change Sam-I-am to Pam-I-am, but then inflect the references to Pam-she-is, which gave the chance of producing a true homage (I hope I came close).

Sorry for such long comments - but your posts are so intersting.