Monday 23 January 2012

Le Chat au Chapeau

"Cat, hat.  In French:  chat, chapeau.  In Spanish:  el gato in a sombrero...In German I'm a Katze in a Hut, and don't you know, I'm a guanka in a bunkaquank in Eskimo." *

Only Dr. Seuss could hold a language class right in the middle of an animated television show.  Based on the Cat in the Hat book, the TV special "The Cat in the Hat" is full of songs like:

Nothing to be Done
The Gradunza
Calculatus Eliminatus
I'm a Punk
Beautiful Kittenfish
Anything Undwer the Sun
Cat, Hat
Sweep up the Memories

"Cat, Hat" is sprinkled with just enough foreign words to make it interesting without confusing the listener.  Dr. Seuss repeats the words enough that by the end of the song, they're stuck in every child's head.  Thing 1 and Thing 2 dress up in appropriate costumes such as sombreros when they sing in Spanish and berets when they sing in French. 

Dr. Seuss' rhythm is so natural and his words are "a propos".  If he can't think of the right word to fit, he makes one up, which makes the story all the more interesting.  Although he has early readers like Dr. Seuss's ABC, one of the first books that my son Thomas mastered reading, he has also written books for more advanced readers like The Lorax, my husband's favourite book to borrow from the school library.  My favourite to read as a child was Green Eggs and Ham.  If readers are looking for tongue twisters, they should read Fox in Sox.  One of Jacqueline's favourites to borrow from the library was Daisy-Head Mayzie about a little girl who has a daisy growing out of her head.  As a Political Scientist, Rob would enjoy The Butter Battle Book about the war between the Zooks, who eat their bread butter side down, and the Yooks, who eat their bread butter side up.  One that I appreciate as a parent is Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?.  And no Christmas is complete without The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

The next time you go to the library, pick up a Dr. Seuss book.  Or watch the old TV specials on video or DVD.  You'll be entertained and before you know it, you'll be multilingual!

*(Lyrics from the song "Cat, Hat", "The Cat in the Hat" TV Special, 1971)

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