Published 1969 by Random House
“If Seuss’s morals frequently affirm the need to challenge injustice, his verse and art offers a liberation of the imagination.” – Philip Nel (author of Dr. Seuss: American Icon)
SUMMARY: The book is made up of three stories; I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today!, King Looie Katz, and The Glunk that got Thunk. I’ve split the summaries up below. On the inside cover The Cat in the Hat introduces us to his son, daughter and great great great great grandpa which the stories focus on.
I CAN LICK 30 TIGERS Today!:
The first story, and main title, stars The Cat in the Hat’s son. At first, he boasts that he can lick thirty tigers today! (“lick” meaning “beat up”…not lick, like an ice cream cone.) His cockiness quickly fades when he is faced with 30 actual tigers, but he is smart and calls one of the tigers out and asks him to step out of line, making his count 29. As you follow along with the story you can actually count the tigers on the page and they will match the number of tigers he claims to be able to lick.
But even 29 seems like a bit much. Saying that he doesn’t want to be too mean he decides to let off a group of tigers, bringing the count down to 22 tigers. He is still intimidated so he tells the front row of tigers to leave because they’re fingernails are dirty. Now he claims he can lick 13 tigers.
Quite a few of you seem underweight.
It’s not fair, after all,
To lick tigers so small.
I think that I’ll only lick eight.
I can lick
Eight big tigers today….”
Now the tigers are tightly circled around him. He claims that some of them look tired and dismisses them, saying he can lick three big tigers today. With a desperate look on his face he narrows the count down to one saying that two of them should go lay in the shade because it’s so hot out.
Finally, he is faced with only one big tiger that he claims he can lick, but he quickly runs away saying,
You know, I have sort of a hunch
That noontime is near.
You just wait for me here.
I’ll beat you up right after lunch.”
King Looie Katz:
The next story focuses on the Cat in the Hat’s great great great great grandpa, King Looie Katz. The story takes place in the year One Thiry-Nine in the kingdom of Katzen-stein. King Looie was very proud and had his tail dipped in a golden pale every morning. He also requested that his tail be carried everywhere so it never touched the ground. He made Fooie Katz follow him around and hold his tail up.
Fooie started to become proud and didn’t like seeing his own tail sagging in the dirt. So, Fooie made Kooie Katz follow him around keeping his tail of the ground. Of course, Kooie felt like he deserved to have someone else hold up his tail. This continued with the following cats holding up the previous cat’s tail:
King Looie Katz
…all the way through all the cats in Katzen-stein until one small cat at the very end of the line, named Zooie Katzen-bein. Zooie realized his tail would never be held, because he was the last and smallest cat in Katzen-stein.
“Poor Zooie got so awfully mad
So mad he could have spit.
But he did a far, far braver thing…
He simply yelled,
“I QUIT!” “
So, he threw down the tail of Prooie Katz! and Prooie threw down Blooie’s and it continued threw the line until even King Looie’s tail got thrown on the ground!
“And since that day in Katzen-stein,
All cats have been more grown-up.
They’re all more demo-catic
Because each cat holds his own up.”
The final story features The Cat in the Hat’s daughter. It is narrated by her brother so she is called sister throughout the story. Something Sister likes to do is sit in her room and use her Thinker-Upper. She turns it on and thinks up friendly little things with smiles and fuzzy fur. When she’s done she simply turns on her UN-Thinker and un-thinks the things away.
One evening she decides to think up bigger things hoping they would be more fun. She turns her Thinker-Upper to full speed and after a snorty snore it starts thunk-thunk-thunking and she cries, “Thunk-thunk some more!”
“Then, BLUNK! her Thinker-Upper thunks
A double klunker-klunk.
My sister’s eyes flew open
And she saw she’d thunked a Glunk!
He was greenish.
Not too cleanish.
And he sort of had bad breath.
“Good gracious!” gasped my sister.
“I have thunked up a quite a meth!”
(Meth is suppose to be “mess” manipulated to rhyme with “breath”…but the description actually sounds a bit like a meth head, ha!)
She tries to UN-think the Glunk, but it just won’t work. He tells her that he is there to stay and that he needs to call his mom who lives nine thousand miles away. Sister tries to stop the Glunk, yelling that long distance is expensive, but the Glunk won’t listen.
The Glunk proceeds to make the call and starts to tell his mother how to make Glunker Stew, which is a very long process. The Glunk just keeps on talking to his mother for hours! Sister is frightened, because she knows the phone call will cost over three hundred dollars and if the Glunk keeps going her father will be ruined! She just has to UN-think this Glunk! Finally, her brother, the narrator comes into the room and helps her Un-thunk the Glunk. After the Glunk disappears her brother gives her quite a talking to.
Thinks up fuzzy things
In the evening, after supper.
Many people have taken issue with the fact that, in the final story, The Cat in the Hat’s daughter, the only female character, is basically told to not think so much because it will get her in trouble. Maybe it’s just the feminist side of me, but I’m gonna have to agree with this criticism. I usually defend Seuss on pretty much any issue people have with him, but in this case I definitely feel like it’s a bit ridiculous that the message is, “you’re a girl and you need to think of nice fuzzy cute things, or else you’ll get in trouble and your brother will have to bail you out.”
To be fair, all three stories don’t put the main character in the best light. The first one has Cat in the Hat’s son biting off more than he can chew. He is super cocky and acts all tough, but ends up chickening out without any sort of humility or seeming like he’s learned his lesson. The second story shows how proud and demanding The Cat in the Hat’s great great great great grandpa is, but at least he learns his lesson and seems content and happy at the end. Either way readers can learn to brag and pick fights less from the first story and learn to be less proud and more democratic in the second story, but the last story has a horrible moral lesson: think less…especially if you’re a girl.
Seuss may have become less racist and learned to represent exotic locations without using racial stereotypes, but he still hasn’t provided us with strong female characters that provide good lessons without showing sexist stereotypes.
This is the first book Seuss wrote after his marriage to his second wife, Audrey and it is dedicated to her, simply saying, “For Audrey.” This is the second book he has dedicated to her, the other one being Fox in Socks which was written while he was still married to his first wife. He also dedicated Dr. Seuss’s Songbook to Audrey’s daughters while he was still married to his first wife.
In later editions the inside cover where The Cat in the Hat introduces his daughter, son and great great great great grandpa is taken out so it just jumps straight into the story. I’m not sure why it was taken out, it may not add to the stories themselves, but it’ is a nice connection and explains why the son looks like a miniature Cat in the Hat.
The first edition of the book has all the previous Seuss books (besides The Seven Lady Godivas, because it was considered an adult book due to the nudity) listed on the back. The Beginner Books are listed separately to show the different reading levels.
The only other cover I could find is the blue one shown below. Our narrator looks scared on this cover instead of boastful like he does on the original cover. Also, the coloration is a bit odd and the hill is striped like the tigers for some reason. I am assuming it would have originally come with a dust jacket.
The quote at the bottom of the back (in the yellow) is:
“I predict that Dr. Seuss will emerge as one of the great classics of this area. In 2059, children will still hoot with joy when they come across Seuss books. What exactly is it that makes this stuff immortal? I don’t know. There is something about it – a swing to the language, a deep understanding of the playful mind of a child, an undefinable something that makes Dr. Seuss a genius pure and simple.”
The quote is by Rudolf Flesch who was “an Austrian-born naturalised American author (noted for his book Why Johnny Can’t Read), and also a readability expert and writing consultant who was a vigorous proponent of plain English in the United States. He created the Flesch Reading Ease test and was co-creator of the Flesch-Kincaid readability test. Flesch advocated use of phonics rather than sight reading, to enable students to sound out unfamiliar words.” (information on Flesch from Wikipedia.com)
Felsch clearly knew what he was talking about when it comes to children’s literature. That quote was written 44 years ago. So far, Flesch’s prediction has held up against time. We have 46 years until 2059 to see if it continues to hold up.
My favorite quote is a long one. It is the Glunk’s phone call to his mother including the recipe for Glunk Stew.
“You take a cup of applesauce.
You add a pinch of straw.
you drop in a fourteen oysters,
Seven cooked and seven raw.
You beat it to a frazzle
With a special frazzle-spade.
Then you pour it in a rubber boot
Half filled with lemonade.
Then you toss it in the mixer,
Where you spuggle it and spin it…
Let me see. Where was I at?
Oh. You take if off the mixer
When the stew is nicely pink.
Then you add a hunk of something…
Hunk of chuck-a-luck, I think.
Then you chuck in chunks of chicklets.
Then you plunk in seven cherries.
And THEN you plunk in, Mother dear,
Three dozen kinds of berries….”
I can just imagine kids reading the book and wanting to go in the kitchen and try out the recipe with all sorts of messy stuff!
I absolutely love the look on this cats face. It jumped out at me as I was reading it. He’s so unhappy and grumpy. Plus the silly outfits they wear are so fun.
Thanks for reading,