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Happy 50th to 'The Cat in the Hat'!


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  • Happy 50th to 'The Cat in the Hat'!

    After 50 years, a tip of the hat to one cool 'Cat'

    Posted 2/26/2007 9:47 PM ET

    He's still the fanciest feline in literature.

    The book will be read aloud Friday at libraries and schools across the USA. Local events can be found at

    -Visit the website and send an electronic birthday card to the cat. For every card sent, Random House Children's Books will donate one book to First Book!, a national literary project.

    By Carol Memmott, USA TODAY
    February 27, 2007

    It's a classic "home alone" story.

    A brazen cat strolls uninvited into the home of a boy and girl whose mother is out. To the children's horror, he proceeds to trash the house — he calls it "lots of good fun that is funny!" Miraculously (with the help of Thing One and Thing Two), he manages to tidy up before Mom comes home.

    He's the Cat in the Hat, and he turns 50 on Thursday.

    The Cat in the Hat was published jointly by Houghton Mifflin and Random House on March 1, 1957. It was the 13th children's book by Theodor Seuss Geisel, who came to be known as Dr. Seuss. It made him a household name and his trickster furball a pop-culture icon.

    Random House (now the sole U.S. publisher) estimates it has sold 10.5 million copies. Millions more — no one knows how many — have been sold by mail-order book clubs.

    The Cat in the Hat was a product of the postwar baby boom. In 1957, 29 million children were in kindergarten and elementary school. The "Dick and Jane" primers used to teach reading were considered dull and uninspiring.

    Challenged by a Houghton Mifflin executive to write a story that "first-graders wouldn't be able to put down," Geisel created The Cat in the Hat. The rest is publishing history.

    "Teaching children how to read with The Cat in the Hat was a real breath of fresh air," says Philip Nel, whose The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats (Random House, $30) was recently published. "The rhymes just propel the reader along."

    Geisel was asked to use only 223 words from a list of 348 words for beginning readers. He ended up using 236. Even though it has been around for half a century, Cat is still popular with kids (and parents) and sells hundreds of thousands of copies a year.

    It became a much-maligned movie starring Mike Myers as the cat in 2003.

    "Reading it is like listening to a great song," says Nancy Karpyk, who teaches kindergarten in Weirton, W.Va. "When I read it to my students, the rhythm of it makes them feel good. They love the rhymes, and they love the way the cat struts in the illustrations."

    But it's what the cat gets away with that may have clinched his legacy.

    "He's a rebel, and Americans identify with rebels," Nel says. "He's a con artist who creates a sense of possibility like the Wizard of Oz or Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man."

    Some Cat facts:

    •Geisel thought he could write the book in a week, but it took him a year and a half.
    •The cat's face is said to have been inspired by that of a Houghton Mifflin elevator operator who Geisel thought had "a secret smile" and who wore gloves.
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  • #2
    Re: Happy 50th to 'The Cat in the Hat'!

    It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how.
    St. Elizabeth, Patron Saint of Themed parks. Protect us from break downs, long lines, and used gum. Amen.

    "Dance like it hurts, love like you need money, and work when people are watching" - Dogbert


    • #3
      Re: Happy 50th to 'The Cat in the Hat'!

      Would you read this with a llama?
      Would you read to Jeffrey Dahmah?
      Last edited by Mac Daddy; 02-26-2007, 08:39 PM.


      • #4
        Re: Happy 50th to 'The Cat in the Hat'!

        Lookin' good for 50! Such a great book!


        • #5
          Re: Happy 50th to 'The Cat in the Hat'!

          Dr. Seuss' birthday is March 2 (1904)... Funny that the Cat's is the first!
          xo, Deanna


          • #6
            Re: Happy 50th to 'The Cat in the Hat'!

            Gotta get out the Seuss collection and start watching it and reading it...

            Top of the list would be:

            5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
            Private Snafu
            Gerald McBoing-Boing
            Dr. Seuss Goes to War

            (Yeah, I like going straight for the more obscure things that people don't associate him with.)


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