Another Seuss book I'd never read before! I wasn't completely sure, but once I started reading it I knew I'd never heard the story before. Didn't evenAnother Seuss book I'd never read before! I wasn't completely sure, but once I started reading it I knew I'd never heard the story before. Didn't even recognise the pictures (always my fall-back on the sketchy memory! My image recognition is probably the stronger part of my memory).
The story is simple enough: one day, mum leaves the her two kids ("Sally and I") at home while she goes out. It's a cold, wet day, and the boy and the girl start wondering what to do with their time other than sit at the window, watching the rain. Then into their house walked the Cat in the Hat!
The Cat in the Hat has lots of ideas for fun things to do inside. He knows tricks, like balancing the fishbowl on his umbrella (ignoring the fish's explicit instructions to be put down, and that he must leave). The Cat in the Hat proceeds to balance all sorts of multiple household objects until, of course, it all comes crashing down, leaving a big, big mess.
But the Cat in the Hat isn't done, no he has a new idea. He brings in a big red wooden box, inside of which are two Things: Thing One and Thing Two (they look like miniature, blue-hared people wearing red jumpsuits - though the colours could just be because the only colours in the illustrations are blue and red!). The Things start to fly kites in the house, causing even more mess, and the fish is by this point getting extremely irate and anxious - as are the two children.
And then they see their mother coming up the front path! The boy catches the Things with his fishing net, and they emphatically tell the Cat in the Hat to leave. The cat is saddened that they don't like his games, and does, finally, leave, only to return moments later with a strange machine with which he cleans up all the mess just in time for their mother to walk in. Phew! Close call.
The text follows the usual Seuss style (I think, in fact, that this was his first children's book, so maybe I should say that his other books follow this style!), with absurdities, fun rhymes and a lot of repetition. He's quite fond of "should" and "would" and "could" and "I do not", or so it seems when you read this one alongside Green Eggs and Ham. So far I've only read it once so I have no further impressions to impart, and I think my two-year-old might be a bit young for it yet....more
I had never read this before, I'm pretty sure - we certainly never had a copy in our house nor any pre-Christmas tradition of reading it, nothing likeI had never read this before, I'm pretty sure - we certainly never had a copy in our house nor any pre-Christmas tradition of reading it, nothing like that. Probably my primary school had an old copy but I don't think I was too interested. So this was a new reading experience for me, one I approached without any memories or sense of nostalgia to guide me. I got it because it's such a classic, and I believe it's the origin of Santa's sleigh and reindeer (which are named), though don't quote me on that.
I decided to get the original edition - I love the old style of illustrations and I didn't want anything changed or edited. It's a classic, after all! What I found was a really delightful poem that carries with it a great sense of expectation, anticipation and atmosphere, far more than I would expect, and the descriptions had that Narnia quality - it's the only word I can think to describe it, but basically I mean the way things looked in an age gone by, an older period that's nostalgic to us now.
It's not the children who discover St. Nicholas, but their father, who is woken by the "clatter" of a sleigh and eight small reindeer, who waits for him to exit the chimney. I love the descriptions of Saint Nick, some of which I've included here, followed by their accompanying illustrations:
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot' A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a pedler [sic] just opening his pack.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath; He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
I'm not sure how much of our current Santa mythology comes from this poem - I'll have to wait to find out when I read Gerry Bowler's Santa: A Biography later on - but whether it started anything or not, it's certainly played a big part in immortalising it all. Little has changed since this was published in 1912 - really the only thing different is that Santa was later dressed in Coca Cola colours for their own marketing, something we've been stuck with ever since. Another reason why I wanted the original, pre-Coca Cola illustrations.
This was a truly delightful read, in a purely nostalgic sense, and while I may not have grown up with it as a kid, it manages to bring back that sense of excitement and wonder and make you feel like a bit of a kid again, which is always a good feeling. ...more
I hadn't heard of this book before coming across it rather randomly at a little shop in a small Ontario town, but it was rather cute and the kids loveI hadn't heard of this book before coming across it rather randomly at a little shop in a small Ontario town, but it was rather cute and the kids love anything to do with trains and trucks etc.
The story purports to be about Engineer Small and his little engine, but it's really just about the little engine and it's journey from Tiny Town to the city.
The illustrations have that 1940s look to them, and rules of perspective are enthusiastically thrown out the window, but they're very engaging and there's some nice details in them for the kids to find. It also has some nice sound-effects, which are always fun to make when reading aloud....more