Amazingly Splendid Literary Cats will investigate incredible cats or cat inspired characters found in literature. Today we begin with the world famous Cat in the Hat.
How the Cat came about
Dr. Seuss (Theodre Geisel), Cat in the Hat, Thing One, Thing Two, Sally, the Fish – all iconic characters and responsible for the millions upon millions of copies of the book being sold. However, the reasoning behind the publication of the book is very interesting in itself. Learningfirst.org gives some insight as to how the book came about:
Back in 1954, Life magazine published an article entitled “Why Do Students Bog Down on First R? A Local Committee Sheds Light on a National Problem: Reading.” That article was quite critical of school primers, essentially claiming that the books schools used to teach children to read – and to love reading once they mastered the basic mechanics of it – were boring, and that the children featured in them were not relatable.
In response to that article, William Ellsworth Spaulding, then-director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin, challenged his friend Geisel to write a book that first-graders could read on their own – and not put down. The Cat in the Hat was finished nine months later.
An NPR article disputes certain claims while diving into more detail of the origin story:
Dr. Seuss had been a fairly successful children’s book author up until then, though he was not yet a household name. He thought it would be easy to write the book Spaulding wanted, and expected to dash it off in no time. It took him a year and a half. Seuss underestimated how hard it would be to write a book using just over 200 words (236), Nel says.
Who is the Cat in the Hat
Probably the most iconic cat found in literature of all time, his adventure with Sally and her brother have been told millions of times over the decades. Who
can ever forget the whirlwind of destruction Thing 1 and Thing 2 left in their path? The Dr. Seuss creation has stood the test of time and is one the most recognizable children characters of all time.
The story of the adventurous anthropomorphic cat gave children a different type of story to read where rules were broken, imaginations were stretched, and the adventurous spirit was rewarded. The book broke all the rules for children’s books at the time and has become iconic because of it.