Lots of Good Fun That Is Funny

Photo by Reba Spike on Unsplash

Amid my interesting reading lately, I enjoyed revisiting a classic yesterday. Twice.

The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold, wet day.

The opening pages of Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat are committed to memory, thanks to frequent bedtime rereadings about forty years ago. It’s also the first book I remember reading by myself.

So this gem has lots of sentimental value for me, but my enjoyment of reading it aloud goes beyond nostalgia. The book falls squarely in the category of “fun to read.”

All Dr. Seuss books, of course, are rhythmically fun. The anapestic beat of The Cat in the Hat chugs along–carrying you through the story with your pint-sized listener. An anapest, in case you’ve forgotten, consists of two short syllables followed by one accented one, as in the word interrupt. The children’s choleric fish is Master of the Anapest:

"Put me down!" said the fish.
"This is no fun at all!
Put me down!" said the fish.
I do not  wish to fall!"

{Try reading aloud but substituting two interrupts per line.)

The story itself is also lots of good fun, if you wish. Revisiting it now, I’m struck by just how weird it is, and I remember feeling similarly when I read it at the age of six. I didn’t love the cat, and I didn’t love the fish, but they fascinated me. Likewise my two-year-old granddaughter yesterday. When the fish shouts, “You should not be here when our mother is not!” she looked up at me and agreed that he shouldn’t. Who, after all, hops up and down on a ball while holding a cup and some milk and a cake and some books and a ship and a fish on a rake? I mean.

The story is subversive. My twin grandson often enjoys books at some remove while performing important construction work nearby with his excavator and dump truck, but he sidles up to view the mess created when the cat comes down with a bump and all the things fall. The cat is a home wrecker, and I imagine the book may be canceled at some point for depicting children’s letting a destructive stranger into their house.

Lastly, Dr. Seuss’s masterful drawings adhere perfectly to the words. When Thing 1 and Thing 2 run down the hall and bump their kites on the wall, there on the page are Thing 1 and Thing 2 and a hall and two kites and a wall. How could kids not learn to read from this book?

The Cat in the Hat consists of 236 different words–all one or two syllables long– demonstrating the magic of simple language, imaginative drawings, and a cockeyed, crazy story.

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8 Responses to Lots of Good Fun That Is Funny

  1. Kathy says:

    Paula–Yes! They’re easy to memorize!

  2. Kathy says:

    Sarah–We belonged to the Weekly Reader book club. I was thinking we picked up the books at school, but you helped me remember that they came in the mail (I think). Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians is one of my favorites.

  3. Sarah Becker says:

    We had a subscription for all the Dr. Seuss books when I was a kid. Wow, getting books in the mail! Maybe that’s why I became an acquisitions librarian!

  4. Paula Zinsmeister says:

    Love Dr. Seuss.. we still recite parts of his books.

  5. Kathy says:

    Jewel–I’ve told a number of people about your Thing 1 and Thing 2 grandchildren. :–)

  6. Kathy says:

    Barb–He’s so much fun to read. We’ve been doing “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb” a lot too. (Not Dr. Seuss, I know.) You really appreciate the well-written ones when you have to read them over and over.

  7. Barb Ewing Cockroft says:

    I love Dr. Seuss. Green Eggs and Ham is one of my grandson’s (Cam’s) favorites, as I substitute “Cam” for “Sam,” as in “I am Cam. Cam I am. I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them Cam I am.” Even though he is now 6, he still giggles with delight when we read this via Facetime (rarely in person F2F).

  8. Jewel Moulthrop says:

    Love “Cat in the Hat,” one of our favorites. If prompted with the first line, I can probably recite the whole book!

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