The Sneetches and Other Stories

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Published in 1961 by Random House Inc.

“[Seuss’s] long maturation process helped him surmount the attitudes of his day to be come a pioneer in the fight for equality, so that children would grow up already knowing what it took him several decades to recognize.”

– Charles D. Cohen (author of The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but The Seuss)

SUMMARY:

The story opens with a Star-Belly Sneetch walking, with it’s nose in the air, past a crestfallen Sneetch that has no star on it’s belly. The narrator tells the reader about the lives of the Sneetches. The Star-Belly Sneetches act like they’re better than the Sneetches without stars. They play ball on the beach, have frankfurter roasts, picnics, and marshmallow toasts, but they never invite the starless Sneetches.

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But ONE day a stranger arrives in a very strange car full of mechanical pieces. He announces himself to be Sylvester McMonkey McBean. He shows the Plain-Belly Sneetches a machine that puts stars on their bellies, but it costs three dollars each!

The Plain-Belly Sneetches are so excited to be like the Star-Belly Sneetches that they give Sylvester McMonkey McBean lots of money. Then all the Sneetches look the same, but the original Star-Belly Sneetches still think they’re better than the others and want a way to tell the difference between the best Sneetches on the beaches.

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Sylvester McMonkey McBean then tells the original Star-Belly Sneetches that he’s created a machine that takes stars OFF of bellies. The haughty Star-Belly Sneetches immediately pay him ten dollars each to have their stars taken off.

This builds into a huge messy confusion of Sneetches jumping in and out of the Star-On and Star-Off machines until they can’t tell who originally had “stars upon thars.” Meanwhile, Sylvester McMonkey McBean rides away with loads of cash leaving the Sneetches with this comment,

“They never will learn.
No. You can’t teach a Sneetch!”

But McBean was mistaken. The Sneetches decided on that day that no Sneetch is better than any other kind of Sneetch and they forgot about who had stars and who didn’t.

The end.

ABOUT:

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This story was originally specifically in reference to antisemitism, but it has since been expanded to symbolize racism and discrimination in general.  The exclusion of the Plain-Belly Sneetches from activities reflects segregation, and the self-given superiority of the Star-Belly Sneetches reflects Nazi ideals of the master race. This story is obviously trying to show that all humans are created equal just as no Sneetch is better than any other Sneetch.

There is a second lesson in the book that often goes over looked. The Sneetches are scammed by the the con-man Sylvester McMonkey McBean. They let what is fashionable, whether it be stars or no stars, decide if they are part of the superior crowd. They throw out money left and right to be changed so they can fit in with the popular group. This can definitely be used as an example of fashion and advertising draining us of money and individuality.

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HISTORY:

This is the first of Dr. Seuss’s children’s books (that is not a Beginners Book) to not have a dedication.

The Sneetches was originally written as a poem in a 1953 Redbook magazine. Segregation in schools was voted unconstitutional a year later, so during it’s original publication this was a very hot topic.

Seuss almost abandoned finishing this book because someone he respected had said it was antisemitic. His friend and fellow children’s author, Bob Bernstein, got him back on track by pointing out that the criticism he was receiving was like the empty green pants in his other story What Was I Afraid Of?. He had to face his critics and realize they’re not that scary.

Bob Bernstein explained that Seuss, “despised even the slightest hint of any kind of racism, and had to be convinced that his book would not be misinterpreted.”

Obviously, Seuss’s earlier books include plenty of pretty racist images and several stereotypical “exotic” characters, but during World War II Seuss started drawing political cartoons that encourage equality for black workers. His depiction of Japanese and other Asian cultures continued to be very racist until he actually visited Japan. After the war, his books no longer relied on stereotypes to show different far-away cultures for children to get excited about. Instead, he used his imagination and created completely fictitious lands and used more animals and seussian beasts, rather than different races of humans.

This collection of stories, as well as Green Eggs and Ham, was turned into a cartoon called Seuss on the Loose. It was later changed to Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories due to the popularity of the Green Eggs and Ham book.

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The original cover shows the Star-Belly Sneetches, adult and child, being snotty and walking with their noses high in the air. I find it odd that the newer cover would put the Plain-Belly Sneetches acting superior on the cover. It could be interpreted as showing that both kinds of Sneetches went through stages of thinking they were better than the other kind, but consdering that most people thinks of “stars upon thars” when they think of Sneetches I would assume that’s what they would advertise on the cover.

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FAVORITE IMAGE:

My favorite image is the final image in The Sneetches. It is the reconciliation of the Star-Belly Sneetches with the Plain-Belly Sneetches when the Sneetches finally realize,

“That Sneetches are Sneetches
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.”

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

My favorite quote from this book is actually not from The Sneetches. It’s from one of the “Other Stories.” My favorite line is from What Was I Afraid Of?, which is the last story in the book. It reads:

“I said, ‘I do not fear those pants
With nobody inside them.’
I said, and said, and said those words.
I said them. But I lied them.”

Children, and many adults, go through the process of telling themselves over and over they’re  not scared of something, but usually they are lying to themselves, because if they really weren’t scared they wouldn’t have to tell themselves they’re not. I just think it is a beautifully worded quote.

OTHER STORIES:

**The Zax**

One day a South-Going Zax runs into a North-Going Zax. The North-Going Zax demands that the South-Going Zax gets out of his way because he can’t take a step in any other direction. The South-Going Zax demands the same of the North-Going Zax.

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They yell at each other and refuse to budge no matter how long they have to stand in one place. The world keeps on moving and eventually a highway is built over them, but they just keep standing there refusing to budge.

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This is a pretty short and sweet story about stubbornness. The message being, if you refuse to budge then you’ll never get anywhere.

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**Too Many Daves**

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Too Many Daves is about a woman named Mrs. McCave. She had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave. Which meant that every time she called out for “Dave” to come into the house, they all came running in at once. Then the story lists 23 other creative names that Mrs. McCave could have used which are as follows:

  1. Bodkin Van Horn
  2. Hoos-Foos
  3. Snimm
  4. Hot-Shot
  5. Sunny Jim
  6. Shadrack
  7. Blinkey
  8. Stuffy
  9. Stinkey
  10. Putt-Putt
  11. Moon Face
  12. Marvin O-Gravel Balloon Face
  13. Ziggy
  14. Soggy Muff
  15. Buffalo Bill
  16. Biffalo Buff
  17. Sneepy
  18. Weepy Weed
  19. Paris Garters
  20. Harris Tweed
  21. Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt
  22. Oliver Boliver Butt
  23. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate

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**What Was I Scared Of?**

This time the narrator is the hero of the story. It’s a young bear-like creature who used to never be afraid of anything until he was walking in the woods one night and ran into a pair of pale green pants with no one inside them!

This scared our hero and he ran away, but he ran into the empty green pants a week later. They were riding a bicycle and almost knocked him down. He was so scared he dropped his spinach from Grin-itch.

The very NEXT night, when our hero was fishing for Doubt-trout on Roover River, the empty green pants rowed toward him. Our Hero was so scared he screamed, rowed away and lost his line and bait.

He ran to a Brickle bush and hid. He stayed there for two nights. When  he finally came down he had to pick a peck of Snide in a gloomy Snide-field. As he picked them he told himself,

“I do not fear those pants
With nobody inside them.”

When he reached inside a Snide bush he touched the empty green pants on the other side. Finally he and the pants stood “face to face!” He screamed and cried, but then he noticed the pants began to cry as well. He then realized that the pants were just as scared of him as he was of them!

So, he comforted the empty green pants and now when they see each other they don’t get scared. Instead, they smile and say, “Hi!”

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Thanks for reading,

Jack St.Rebor

Green Eggs and Ham

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Published in 1960 by Random House

Reviews:

“[Seuss] can play so many tunes on his simplified keyboard, that, reading him, one is hardly aware that there are not more than fifty words.”
– The New Yorker
“[Seuss] took the common phrase, ham and eggs, and commanded attention by reversing it…He used Sam-I-am, not just Sam and Sam-I-am not only rhymes with green eggs and ham, but has the same metric emphasis.”
– Chuck Jones (director for Looney Tunes, as well as the 1970 Horton Hears a Who! cartoon)

SUMMARY:

The cover immediately shows us the character in the hat and the plate of green eggs and ham, but once you open the book the first character we meet is Sam-I-am. He is standing on a dog with a sign that says “I am Sam.” He rides past our cover character quietly sitting in a chair reading a newspaper. When Sam comes back into the room he is riding a large cat-like creature and his sign now says “Sam I am.”

Then the character in the hat speaks.

“That Sam-I-am!
That Sam-I-am!
I do not like
that Sam-I-am!”

He is immediately grumpy and says he does not like something. Sam-I-am quickly jumps at the chance to ask him,

“Do you like green eggs and ham?”

Without trying them or giving any explanation, the character in the hat announces that he does not like green eggs and ham.

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The story continues with Sam-I-am asking if the hat character would like green eggs and ham in different situations. Each time something new is introduced it builds on top of what has already been asked.

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The images quickly escalate into a goat, car, mouse, fox, and train all falling into some water on top of a boat. The hat character yells,

“I could not, would not, on a boat.
I will not, will not, with a goat.
I will not eat them in the rain.
I will not eat them on a train.
Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! You let me be!
I do not like them in a box.
I do not like them with a fox.
I will not eat them in a house.
I will not eat them with a mouse.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them ANYWHERE!”

To which Sam-I-am replies,

“You do not like them.
So you say.
Try them! Try them!
And you may.
Try them and you may, I say.”

Finally, the character in the hat gives in just so that Sam-I-am will leave him alone. There is one spread of pages with no words. All the characters anxiously lean in watching the character in the hat with a green egg on his fork waiting for him to finally try them.
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The next page is the first time we see the character in the hat smile as he announces that he DOES like green eggs and ham! And he would eat them in all the places and with all the creatures mentioned in the previous lines.

“Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!
I do so like
green eggs and ham!
Thank you!
Thank you,
Sam-I-am!”

The end.

ABOUT:

The message of the book is pretty simple and an important one for children that are picky eaters. It is summed up simply as, “How do you know you don’t like it if you don’t try it?” I was a picky eater myself, but my mom would make us green eggs and ham for St. Patrick’s day and, because of this book, I would eat them!

The layout of the images and flow of the text obviously has a lot to do with the success of the book. If Seuss had simply said, “Hey kids, you should eat green eggs and ham” and just had the character in the hat eat them and like them then the message wouldn’t stick. In fact, it would be a pretty boring book. Instead, Seuss immediately creates conflict. The images at the beginning of the book create a back and forth movement that matches the back and forth argument between Sam and the character in the hat.

Sam enters from the left and exits right, then swings instantly back around to come in from the right and exit left. The rest of the book continually presses forward to the right as the character in the hat tries to get away from Sam-I-am. This creates an amazing momentum to the images that goes well with the constant build up and flow of the words.

When we finally come to the moment that the character in the hat starts to give in, the next three spreads put the character in the hat on the left page and Sam-I-am on the right page. They stare at each other with the spine of the book splitting them down the middle. This clearly defines the two sides of the conflict.

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Once the character in the hat tries the green eggs and ham, and finds that he likes them, he joins Sam-I-Am on the same page with a smile on his face, showing that the conflict is resolved.

HISTORY:

Once again, following the pattern of all Beginner Books, there is no dedication.

Seuss used his usual colors; red, yellow and turquoise, but this time he also added green. Like in Bartholomew and the Oobleck, where green was only used for the Oobleck, green was only used for the green eggs and ham.

This amazing book came about when Seuss’ publisher, Bennett Cerf, bet Seuss fifty dollars that he could not write a book using only fifty words. Seuss obviously won the bet and created his top selling children’s book at the same time. The pattern of most words used is fairly interesting. The word “not” is used 82 times, “I” is used 81 times, and “Anywhere ” which is the only word that has more than one syllable is used only 8 times. I find this interesting, because children are very focused on themselves so using “I” so many times allows the children to see themselves as the main character. Also, children, especially picky eaters, often exclaim that they “will not” do something that their parents are asking them to do. This once again helps children relate to the situation and therefore WANT to read the book.

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Princeton University Class of 1985 recited the entire text of Green Eggs and Ham when Seuss came to the school to receive an honorary degree. Seuss was often overwhelmed by fans of his books. Many people called him a genius, to which he replied,

“If I am a genius, why do I have to work so hard. I know my stuff looks like it was all rattled off in 28 seconds, but every word is a struggle and every sentence is like the pangs of birth.”

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Green Eggs and Ham continues to pop up in social media ever since it’s creation in 1960.

It was put together with The Sneetches and Other Stories and released as Dr. Seuss on the Loose cartoon in 1973.  The voice of “The Guy in the big hat” (as IMDB puts it) was voiced by Paul Winchell who also did the voice of Tigger for many years. I have attached a link to the video on YouTube.com. It’s very short and sticks to the actual words from the book, it just adds a little sing-song element that makes it very 70’s.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULDtgnQ0fy4

In 1991 Reverand Jesse Jackson read part of Green Eggs and Ham on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update in honor of Dr. Seuss who died that year. It is a wonderful short clip and I have put the link to Hulu.com below.

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http://www.hulu.com/watch/279052

In 2003 a Game Boy Advanced Green Eggs and Ham video game was released.

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FAVORITE QUOTE:

“You do not like them.
So you say,
Try them! Try them!
And you may.
Try them and you may, I say.”

This simple and fun line basically sums up the entire book and I imagine the 70’s cartoon voice saying it and it just makes me smile.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

This is the inside cover image. I  think it is beautifully drawn and Sam-I-Am has always been one of my favorite Seuss characters. He’s so content in this illustration.

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Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

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Happy Birthday To You!

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Published 1959 by Random House

SUMMARY:

The story opens with the narrator explaining the birthday traditions in the land of Katroo. First, the Birthday Honk-Honker hikes up to Mt. Zorn and blows the big Birthday Horn which calls out:

“Wake Up! For today is your Day of all Days!”

Then the Great Birthday Bird arrives. The Birthday Bird has been specially trained by the Katroo Happy Birthday Asso-see-eye-ation.

“This bird has a brain. He’s most beautifully brained.
With the brainiest bird-brain that’s ever been trained.”

Like Santa Claus, the Birthday Bird knows where you live and on your birthday heads straight for your room. When you meet the bird you do the Secret Katroo Birthday Hi-Sign-and-Shake. To take us through the story there is a little blonde boy that represents the “You” part of the story. The bird and “you” get up really early so you don’t waste a minute then you have a snack on a Smorgasbord’s back. A Smorgasbord, in this case, is a Seussian beast that has trays and chairs on like a saddle. The trays are covered with all sorts of delicious food.

While the reader watches the Birthday Bird and “You” climb many stairs to the Katroo Sounding-Off Place the narrator explains:

“If we didn’t have birthdays, you wouldn’t be you.
If you’d never been born, well then what would you do?
If you’d never been born, well then what would you be?
You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!

Or worse than all that…Why, you might be a WASN’T!
A Wasn’t has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t.
A Wasn’t just isn’t. He just isn’t present.
But you…You ARE YOU! And, now isn’t that pleasant!”

When they reach the sounding off place they shout at the top of their lungs

“I AM I!
ME!
I am I!
And I may not know why
But I know that I like it.
Three cheers! I AM I!”

Then they head to the Birthday Flower Jungle where the best-sniffing flowers are grown to be sniffed by your own private nose. They smell like all sorts of things including licorice and cheese. The flowers are cut by the Who-Bubs so that they can be piled on fifty Hippo-Heimer’s backs and taken home for you to smell.

Then it’s time for Birthday Lunch which is hot dogs served on a spool. As a rule, you are suppose to stuff yourself, and naturally that would leave you covered in mustard, so you have to go to the Mustard-Off Pools. As you dry off from your swim you sing loud, “I am lucky!” and “I am I!”

Now it’s time for presents. The Birthday Bird decides to get the little blonde boy the tallest pet that the Official Katroo Birthday Pet Reservation has to offer. They line up all the pets in order of smallest to tallest (but some of them stand on their tiptoes and cheat.) He also gives the boy a Time-Telling fish (that has a clock for a face) that Diver Getz gets and Diver Gitz gits.

Now it’s time for the Birthday Party at the Birthday Pal-alace. The Pal-alace has nine thousand, four hundred and three rooms to play in! It also has sixty-five rooms just for the Sweeping-Up-Afterwards-Brooms that it will take to clean up the party. The party starts with a big parade with Drummers and Strummers and Zummers and Plumbers. Then Dr. Derring’s Singing Herrings spell out “Happy Birthday To You” in the water.

Then, finally, it is time for the cake! The cake is made by Snookers and Snookers, The Official Katroo Happy Birthday Cake Cookers. The cake is made of gauranteed, certified strictly Grade-A peppermint cucumber sausage-paste butter.

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Then to really get things rolling you shout loud:

“I am lucky to be what I am!
Thank goodness I’m not just a clam or a ham
Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!
I am what I am! That’s a great thing to be!
If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!”

Then all your friends come and the party goes on til it ends. Then the Birthday Bird flies you home on a very soft platter right back to your bed.

ABOUT:

This is definitely one of my top five favorite Dr. Seuss children’s books. It is just such a wonderful celebration of self. Many times throughout the book the characters shout “I AM I” or “I am lucky!” This is clearly not just a message for children, but one that everyone of any age needs to be reminded of. Most of us are indeed lucky to be who we are and we ALL deserve to love ourselves and be celebrated. What better day to celebrate who you are than on the anniversary of the day you were born!

HISTORY:

Dedication reads:

“For
my good friends,
The Children of San Diego County”

This is Dr. Seuss’s 2nd book to be printed in full color instead of the usual one or two colors. The first one was McElligot’s Pool which was more detailed and every other page was printed in black and white because of budget issues. Seuss simplified his use of all the colors in this book and Random House had enough of a budget at the time to print each page in color.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

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This image is the inside cover of the book. It also appears within the story with text inside the clouds. It is the Official Katroo Birthday Sounding-Off Place! Where you are suppose to shout

“I AM I!
ME!
I am I!
And I may not know why
But I know that I like it.
Three cheers! I AM I!”

I think, like the quote, the image makes a beautiful, grand, and yet very simple statement. It is a proclamation and celebration of the self, shouted out to the world.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

This has been one of my all time favorite quotes (not only just by Seuss, but famous quotes in general) and it only gets better when put it in the context of the entire story.

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Thanks for reading,
Jack St.Rebor

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

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Published 1958 by Random House

SUMMARY:

The brother and sister from The Cat in The Hat are shoveling snow from their sidewalk. Once again the little boy is narrating as he tells the audience that he and his sister, Sally, have to clear away all the snow like their mother told them to.

“This was no time for play.
This was no time for fun.
This was no time for games.
There was work to be done.”

They are working hard while their mother is out, when along comes the CAT IN THE HAT! The narrator warns Sally not to talk to the Cat in the Hat because he plays lots of bad tricks. He claims that he just wants to get out of the snow and he skies right into the house! The narrator runs after him because he knows the Cat in the Hat is up to no good.

Next thing we know the Cat in the Hat is in the bath tub eating cake! When the boy tells the cat that this is a bad thing to do the cat simply says,

“But I like to eat cake
In a tub, ‘laughed the cat.
“You should try it some time,’
Laughed the cat as he sat.”

The the boy gets mad. He yells at that cat that this is no time to play and that he has to get out of their house!

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When he lets the water out of the tub he notices a pink ring all along the inside of the tub!  For a second the Cat in the Hat seems rather sad, because he was just yelled at, but when there is a new problem to solve the cat perks up. He explains that he knows the best way to remove rings from a tub.

“Do you know how he did it?
WITH MOTHER’S WHITE DRESS!
Now the tub was all clean,
But her dress was a mess!”

Sally sees the dress and is worried the pink mess may never come off! But the Cat in the Hat simply laughs and wipes the pink spot off the dress and onto the wall. Now the dress is clean, but the wall is a mess! Next the cat uses their dad’s shoes to get the pink off the wall. Then he rubs the shoes against the carpet and the pink transfers to it. Then from the rug to the bed!

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But then the Cat in the Hat seems worried, because he notices it’s not the right kind of bed!

” ‘To take spots off THIS bed
Will be hard,’ said the cat.
“I can’t do it alone,’
Said the Cat in the Hat.”

So the Cat in the Hat takes off his hat and underneath is little Cat A, but Cat A says the spot is too much for him as well. So, he takes off his hat and under it is little Cat B. Cat B reveals Cat C and these three cats set to work. They use a broom, a TV, some milk, a pan and a fan to blow it all out of the house, but now it’s all over the snow!

 Now the job is too big for just Cats A, B and C. So they reveal even more cats under even more hats. They get all the way to Cat G. All these little cats try killing the pink snow spots with pop guns, but it just spreads it even more. So they get even more help. All the way to a little speck called Little Cat V.

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They start to make snow men and beat the snow with bats and rakes, but this just spreads the pink making the snow completely pink! Finally they reveal Little Cat Z! Instead of another cat, Little Cat Z has something called Voom under his hat.

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 The Cat in the Hat says that Voom cleans up anything and he tells Little Cat Z to take off his hat and release the Voom!

“Now, don’t ask me what Voom is.
I never will know.
But, boy! Let me tell you
It DOES clean up snow!”

The Voom doesn’t only clean up the snow, but it clears the snow out of the sidewalk and puts all the little cats back under The Cat in the Hat’s hat and Sally and her brother’s work is all done!

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The Cat in the Hat tells them that if they ever have to deal with spots again he’d be happy to come back

“…with Little Cats A, B, C, D..
E, F, G…
H, I, J, K…
L, M, N…
and O, P…
…and Q, R, S, T…
and Cat U and Cat V…
and Little Cats W
X
Y
and Z!”

ABOUT:

This story is a great example of the way “children view the gap between their experience, real or perceived and the stories they think their parents will believe.” In fact, Seuss received a letter from a mother with a three year old that had stained their rug and avoided punishment by saying the stain could be cleaned up with Voom. Seuss responded to the letter with his usual silliness by saying:

“the transportation of ‘Voom’…whether in liquid, solid or gaseous form, across state boarders is to be discontinued immediately as a result of a Supreme Court decision (Justice Douglas dissenting) in…the case of Grimalken vs. Drouberhannus…”

A class at Creative Ways Day School in Collinsville, Connecticut, sent a list of questions about the Cat, telling Seuss that after their classroom reading of The Cat in The Hat Comes Back, they found ‘mysterious pink spots all over our play yard.’ Seuss replied:

“The Cat in the Hat sometimes lives in Agawam, Massachusetts. But not very often. He eats Brie Cheese whenever he can get it. He buys his shoes at a Florist Shop in West Hartford, Ct. He does have a very fine brain. But he keeps it home in his next-to-top left Bureau Drawer. He did NOT leave the Pink Spots all over your playground. The Grinch did THAT.”

HISTORY:

There is no dedication for The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, but Seuss used his success from his two Cat in the Hat books to help boost his old friends from college. He published Mike McClintock’s book A Fly Went By as one of the first Beginner Books. McClintock was the reason Seuss didn’t go home and burn And To Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street after it was reject several times. McClintock recognized Seuss on the street and asked what he was up to. When Seuss told him about his rejected children’s book McClintock took him to Vangaurd Press which is how Seuss’ children’s book career got rolling.

Seuss also supported his friend Donald Bartlett (who was included in the Yertle the Turtle dedication) by writing him a recommendation to be a cultural attache with the United States Embassy in Tokyo.  Bartlett was a faculty member at Dartmouth at the time and Seuss sent him a message of encouragement:

“I stack you up on top of my list of the greatest successes I have ever known….You are tops among few dedicated people who are doing the most important  most under-paid goddamn necessary job [teaching] in the world. You are doing what I didn’t have guts enough to do, because I took the easier path. A much much easier path than you have taken.”

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The image of the stacked cats under the Cat in the Hat’s hat was developed over time. Seuss stacked three teddy bears (one holding a hat) in a college cartoon in 1924. He later hid a mini version of a humanoid under the hat of a bigger version of the same humanoid for a Ford commercial in 1949. This eventually led to the many cats under the many hats in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. Once again showing the evolution of Seuss’s drawings and ideas.

Political Interpretations:

There is a great section in Charles D. Cohen’s The Suess, The Whole Suess, and Nothing But the Seuss where he talks about analyses comparing the spreading of the pink ring to the rise and expansion of the Red Menace or communist-sympathizing “pinkos”.  These same analyses see Voom as a represention the atomic bomb which purges the stain and destroys the threat.

Cohen does not agree and explains:

“Such analyses focus on superficial detials and fail to examine Ted’s actual feelings on the subject. He worked in Hollywood and spent most of his time in the army surrouded by Hollywood ppersonnel. When these people were called before the House Un-American Activities Commitee, Ted’s sympathies lay with the accused. He addressed this subject directly in a 1947 cartoon which ‘Uncle Sam peers down in horror at a community reduced through its mutual suspirciousns to chaos’…This cartoon was not drawn by someone who felt threatened by the indomitable spread of communism, but rather by someone who urged tolerance.”

He also points out that, like most of Seuss’s children’s books, this was an ellaboration of an earlier story called “The Strange Shirt Spot.” In this story the spots were blue-green and spread the same way as the pink spots. Seuss thought blue-green was too close to Oobleck and settled on pink. Also in “The Strange Shirt Spot” a broom is used to clean up the mess so the idea of using “Voom” was probably just to make the story more exciting for young readers, but still keep the rhyme.

To support this explanation here is a quote from Seuss himself:

“They’ll take a book of mine that has one color in it and talk about my great sensitivity in handling that color, and why I chose that color, when the fact is that Bennett Cerf called me up one morning and said, ‘We’re having a bit of a financial problem, so cut down your colors.”

Many of Seuss’s books are very intentionally political. When he has a political or moral lesson he is obvious about it, because he wants his readers to get it. It isn’t something we have to search for like using pink spots to represent Communism. So, forcing a political agenda or moral lesson on his books that don’t already have them is an insult to the author. It takes away from the pure silliness that he sometimes used with the sole purpose of getting young children interested in reading. Especially for his Beginner Readers books which were created to delight young readers, not necessarily to teach them any particular lesson or make them aware of any political message.

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The first edition cover is more of a full illustration with a fading blue winter sky and a hill of snow. This was still before the Cat in the Hat was used as a Logo for Beginning Readers (the original logo can be seen above the cats right foot.) Later the background was changed to a solid blue, omitting the snowy hill, to make it match the first book The Cat in the Hat. Red was also added to his bow tie and the title was changed to white.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“Do you know where I found him?
You know where he was?
He was eating cake in the tub!
Yes he was!
The hot water was on
And the cold water, too.
And I said to the cat,
‘What a bad thing to do!’
‘But I like to eat cake
In a tub,’ Laughed the cat.
‘You should try it some time,’
Laughed the cat as he sat.”

I felt the need to put the whole page which I guess is technically two quotes, but together they set the whole scene. Such silliness which is what captures children’s attention when reading this book.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

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This is actually one of my favorite images in all of Dr. Seuss’s art. Like the quote that matches it, it is just full of wonderful silliness that just delights me. The umbrella over the cake to keep it dry is my favorite part.

Thanks for reading,
Jack St. Rebor