We’re Nick Jr. people over here, so we are very behind the times on what all goes on over on PBS, Disney and Sprout. Apparently they have children’s programming too? The other day, the dreaded (to me) “Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends” was on Nick Jr., so I switched over to PBS and much to our delight discovered that they have a “The Cat in the Hat” cartoon featuring the vocal talents of Martin Short. Who doesn’t love Martin Short? Or “The Cat in the Hat”? Surely a combination of the two could be nothing short of delightful!
While I’ll admit that “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That” is pretty adorable, I had an internal fit about how untrue the cartoon show is to the original books. Maybe I’m reading things wrong, but as I understood it the Cat in the Hat is a hooligan who causes terrible mischief when he visits children who are home alone. They don’t like him, and they are more like enemies than friends.
In the books, the Cat cons the kids into letting him into the house while their mother is not home, then trashes the place and won’t leave or stop his antics when they ask. He’s pretty much a home invader! A delightful home invader who ultimately cleans up after himself, but for most of the book the kids want that cat gone NOW.
I think the “lesson” to the books is either not to let a stranger into the house even if they are quite funny OR that there’s always something to do with your imagination even if it is raining and you are really bored. Or something like that.
In ”The Cat in the Hat” book, Cat convinces the kids to let him into the house by saying “Your mother will not mind at all if I do.” The book (and the fish in it) shows that their mother would very much mind if he did. The phrase is supposed to be ironic, but the cartoon show uses these words to get the kids to ask their mother’s permission to go on fantastic journeys with the cat, who is best friends with the fish who hates him in the book.
Instead of causing headache-inducing mischief and practically destroying the house as he does in the book, in the television show Cat takes the kids on a field trip to teach them about something. He’s zany, but mostly helpful and informative. Everyone including the kids’ mother loves him.
The show is truthfully adorable, but the book-lover in me just has trouble stomaching a relationship so contradictory to what’s in the books. Is Cat lovable in the books? Absolutely. But he’s certainly not the person you would trust to take your kids on field trips.
I understand why the changes were made for the show, but that doesn’t change how odd it is to read the books after watching an episode.