I just like to say the words in the title of the new PBS kids show, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!
A few of us bloggers were invited to a celebration of the series launch last night downtown at the Newseum. I don’t attend many of these launches, premieres, and sponsored events, as I don’t talk about products on this blog. But I *do* talk about educational experiences, and I’m becoming convinced that this show might just be one.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Remember The Cat in the Hat?
Of course you do! But do you know the NEW Cat in The Hat? The one who guides children through remarkable science adventures through the natural world in the new books in the Cat in the Hat Learning Library? We were delighted to discover these books when my oldest was a toddler, and we fell in love. As he grew, we added more books, and we eventually had a full shelf of these entertaining nonfiction books complementing the original Dr. Seuss books and their flights of fancy.
There’s a book about trees. There’s one about bees. There’s one about mammals and camels, and one about miles and miles of reptiles. We’ve been collecting these as our science museum souveniers, actually, since we love to browse in museum gift shops but don’t want to collect little stuffed animals with t-shirts or pencils and such. At the Baltimore Aquarium, we bought Wish for a Fish. We found Oh Say, Can You Say, What’s the Weather Today? at the Maryland Science Center. As we left SeaWorld after a big day with our cousins last year, we bought A Whale of a Tale. And at Goddard Space Flight Center, we found There’s No Place Like Space (and yes, they released a second edition when Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet).
So the books are awesome.
And now, there’s a tv show coming out that brings our beloved Dr. Seuss characters — The Cat, the Fish, Sally, and her new best friend Nick, who lives next door (and strongly resembles her brother Dick, with a darker complexion) — to life! Yes, yes, I had reservations too, but all of that dissapated the moment the room darkened and the Cat in the Hat spoke. And it was the Cat! A grown-up’s voice droned about how happy they were to get Martin Short to voice the role, but all I could hear was The Cat, brought to life just like he is in the books. The Cat, the Fish, Sally — they’re all there, and they all sound just right.
We were told three guiding principles that the team is following for this new series: 1. The animation must look exactly like the books. 2. The Cat must be a trusted guide, not just a creator of mayhem (like in the first books, as entertaining as they are!). Interestingly, the Cat isn’t an expert in the books and series. The Cat in the Hat is still learning — exploring along with the kids. It is an unapologetically educational show, with entertaining characters. (Point 3. Martin Short.) The speakers emphasized that the show is not just for science kids. It’s for ALL kids, and the creators wanted to show regular kids getting excited about science and looking to find the answers.
I twittered the event last night, as I believe I was the only blogger present, and it was great to receive so many responses to my livetweets, from other moms and dads who grew up with and love the Cat as well. I think it was a risk for Random House to lisence the characters for animation, but in the end, I’m glad that they did, and that they chose PBS kids as a partner.
I trust PBS kids. I trust Random House. And I trust the legacy of Dr. Seuss, managed so well for so many years by his wife Audery Geisel. We were told last night that she holds the legacy so dear that she would not allow anyone other than PBS to create animation, and she is quoted as saying, “It pleases me to no end to see our incomparable Cat lead this new millennium of children on a rollicking field trip to learn about the vast wonders of nature. All aboard the Thinga-ma-jigger!”
All aboard the Thinga-ma-jigger indeed!
Before I end, I have to tell you a story I learned last night. Here’s how I jotted it down, in tweets:
Before his death, Theodore Geisel wanted to use early childhood literature to turn kids on to science. He even went to NASA to suggest a partnership to bring The Cat’s investigative skills to the world of science — and he got approval! According to Random House Children’s Books Chip Gibson, there was actualy a plan for joint outreach, with an upcoming NASA probe to Mars to have The Cat in the Hat on the nosecone! All was in place until … (wait for it) … Dr. Seuss lost his battle with cancer. All the NASA workers in the project were fired. The End.
After his death, Audrey Geisel agreed to have the characters continue in the Learning Library series, and I am so glad she did.
I have a several copies of a new paperback book released with the tv show to giveaway today to my readers. If you’d like a copy of the book about nocturnal animals, called I Love the Nightlife, or one of the recent hardcover books about reptiles or the weather, leave me a comment and I’ll pick a couple of you at random. Well, not exactly at random. If random.org picks your number and I don’t know you from previous comments or events, I’ll pick again. Disclaimer: Random House and PBS kids hosted my husband and me at a reception, gave us fruity drinks called Thing One and Thing Two, and sent us each home with a totebag with two new books. Books make me happy.