IMAGINE THAT!: HOW DR. SEUSS WROTE THE CAT IN THE HAT, by Judy Sierra and Kevin Hawkes, Random House Books for Young Readers, Sept. 12, 2017, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 3-7)
Millions of children have grown up with Dr. Seuss. I don’t know anyone who’s never read The Cat in the Hat. The book is timeless, and there’s a reason for that.
Imagine That: How Dr. Seuss Wrote the Cat in the Hat, by Judy Sierra and Kevin Hawkes, explores the creation of Dr. Seuss’ most beloved character.
In 1954, a writer named John Hersey wrote a column for Life Magazine about the need for a beginning reader that was interesting for children. Dr. Seuss (or Ted as his friends called him) thought he could do it. But there was a challenge — Ted couldn’t use made-up words. Instead, he had to pull from the official list.
After many false starts, Ted realized that “cat” and “hat” rhyme and started with that. From there, he juggled the words into a bouncing, rhyming story that took more than a year of revisions to complete. Once finished, The Cat in the Hat became an immediate success.
Imagine That is a fun look at how a book is created. Sierra’s prose is easily accessible and pulls from Dr. Seuss’ rhymes for even greater impact. And Hawkes’ pairing of whimsical illustrations and Seussian art really makes the book pop. A fun section featuring writing and illustrating tips from Dr. Seuss offers a great jumping off point for imaginative young readers.
My 3 ½-year-old saw the cover of Imagine That, and immediately wanted to read it. I always read through books before handing them to her, though, and I’m glad I waited. The suggested age range for Imagine That is 3-7. And though Dr. Seuss is the subject, it’s too old for 3-year-olds. There’s just too much text that won’t make sense to that age range. Some older, more mature 4-year-olds and most 5-year-olds who have been to school and are starting to explore words will get more out of this book.