The (Updated, Safer!) Cat in the Hat

Hi Readers — A recent note from the frontlines of overprotection:

Dear Free-Range Kids: I spent a few years as an assistant teacher working with kindergarteners and the amount of mollycoddling the school did was ridiculous. We couldn’t read “The Cat and the Hat” without interrupting the story to mention how no real mother would leave their kids alone at home. I thought it was really bizarre. Isn’t the six foot tall bi-pedal talking cat enough of a clue that it’s a made up story?

One of my favorite moments was when one of the teachers was reading a picture book biography of Dr. Martin Luthur King Jr. and skipped the page where it mentioned that he was killed. I was dying to say something and was so pleased that the one bi-racial little boy in the class yelled out “He got shot!” and the teacher had to address it.

The Free-Range Cat in the Hat

Hey — quick, cool point, brought up by reader Rich Wilson: In The Cat in The Hat, which is hardly what you’d call subversive literature (oh, I’m sure some of you will, but let’s continue this point), the two tots are HOME ALONE! Mom has clearly gone out to shop, solo. And yet the book does not start with a disclaimer: “The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play/But never leave kids by themselves for the day!”

In the 2003 movie version, meanwhile, the kids were home with a (sleeping) babysitter. And the movie bombed.

That’s what happens when you tinker with a Free-Range classic.