Children's Literature Sass's the Cat Thesis

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Children's Literature

Sass's the Cat in the Hat and The BBC's Baby Penguins

Personification and Moral as Indicators of Different Intentions in Children's Literature Over Time

In children's literature, personification is often used in order to make characters more interesting to children, as well as to teach a lesson. Often, inanimate objects, such as The Little Engine That Could, are personified. Authors give these objects child-like traits in order to engage the children, and the fact that the story's main character is not another child, but an object brought to life intrigues their imagination, encouraging their creativity. One might also argue that this personification of objects teaches a child to care for the world around him or her. While objects are often personified, however, nothing is more personified in children's literature than animals. Animals given the traits of children, parents, adults, and other actors in human society make up a bulk of children's literature. This may be because children are naturally drawn to animals, and perhaps the fact that children are learning morals or academic subjects through animals makes those topics seem less like lessons and more like fun.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Thesis on Children's Literature Sass's the Cat in the Assignment

This essay will compare two books that are both on the subject of animals. The first, published in 1957, is the famous The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. The second, printed in January 2009, is a part of the moving television serious Planet Earth, and is entitled Baby Penguins. Readers of these books can notice a few immediate differences. The Cat in the Hat seems to be written for an older audience. In fact, Dr. Seuss wrote the book because he was asked to compose a story using 225 "new-reader" words ("All About Dr. Suess" para. 9). The Cat in the Hat was designed to teach children a vocabulary lesson. Baby Penguins, however, is a shorter book and is written on heavier card stock, meaning it is aimed for an audience of children who are just beginning to have an interest in books. Still, The Cat in the Hat has become a classic that is, today, printed in various forms for children under the school age. While parents may not read Baby Penguins to a school age child, they would read The Cat in the Hat to a pre-school aged child, just as they would read Baby Penguins to a pre-school aged child. In addition, at first glance, Baby Penguins has the aura of non-fiction, while The Cat in the Hat is clearly the most fictionalized book on the topic of animals that one could find! Many of the words in it are made-up sounds that Seuss places for rhyming effect, and, similarly, the book clearly contains a great deal of scenes that could not happen in real life. In fact, nearly anything that involves a large, human-like cat visiting two children on a rainy day and engaging them in new games is something that could not happen in reality! Still, both books involve a degree of personification, and so are ripe for discussion. In fact, through an examination of the personification of animals and the lesson or moral intended for the children in both The Cat in the Hat and Baby Penguins readers can determine that children's literature has changed from the 1950s to the modern era by encouraging children to not only be master's of academic success, but also responsible inhabitants of their world.

In the loveable, The Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss personifies a cat, giving him humanlike characteristics that are so exaggerated that, if he were human, the cat in the hat would be a rather odd sort of human, a person that one might attempt to park far away from in the local supermarket! When he first makes his appearance, Dr. Seuss illustrates the cat in the hat to be walking into the children's home, without knocking, but rather with a "bump," carrying an umbrella and fitted with a bowtie, in addition to his signature hat (Seuss 5-7). Although the illustrations on the children's faces suggest surprise, they say, "And we saw him! The Cat in the Hat" (Suess 6)! This expression on the cat's entrance, in addition to the fact that they call the animal, "him" suggests that the children are not necessarily surprised that a large, human-like cat has walked into their home, but are perhaps more concerned with the fact that the cat has not knocked. Speaking in rhymes, the cat proceeds to tell the children, in what can be called perfect English although it is perfectly strange English, what they can do to have fun on a rainy day. In his first game, "Up-Up-Up with a fish" Seuss goes on to personify the children's goldfish (Seuss 12). The fish, taking the tone of a parent or older sibling, tells the children, "Make that cat go away! Tell that Cat in the Hat You do NOT want to play. He should not be here. He should not be about. He should not be here When your mother is out" (Seuss 11). In this instance, Sass's personification of the fish gives him traits that are exactly like a human's. In fact, Seuss even illustrates the fish standing on his tail and pointing a fin like a parent when saying these words! Throughout the remainder of the story the cat in the hat and the fish continue to be at very human-like odds. The fish is the stereotypical responsible, parent-like figure, while the cat is the child-like, amusing, and mildly crazy troublemaker. The cat and the fish are even given human-like emotions, as the cat "went away With a sad kind of look" (Seuss 54). The fish is also able to show his worry, both through Seuss' illustrations and his repeated concern with the fact that the children's mother is coming home; and worry is perhaps the most human of all emotions.

Thus, in Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat one can argue that there is little that is cat-like about the at all. He has whiskers, fur, and a tail, but he even dresses upright and looks like a human. He speaks like a human, feels human emotions, and interacts with other humans (the children) on an equal level. He is looking to have fun and play with them instead of being admired, adored, or cared for by them like a traditional cat might do. Similarly, the fish is about as fishlike as the cat is catlike. Despite the fact that he is always in water, or very distressed about the cat causing him to become a fish out of water, he is capable of showing emotion through his body language, in addition to acting, speaking, and warning like a human. In The Cat in the Hat, then, a full personification is used. Animals, in fact, are portrayed as even more human-like than humans. While the humans' illustrations are either in black and white or are incomplete, such as the mother's, the cat and the fish are illustrated in whole, and with elements of color.

In Baby Penguins, on the other hand, a different kind of personification is used. While the book has a distinctly non-fiction flavor, the book cannot be described as purely factual. Personification in the form of giving human traits to non-humans still occurs, but on a much smaller scale than it does in The Cat in the Hat. Illustrated with photography, the first picture in Baby Penguins shows two young penguins at their mothers' feet. The author describes the penguins as "already becoming friends" (BBC 1). While the penguins may be forming a herd or other animal community, "friends" is a term that applies to humans with human connotations. Thus, by using the term "friends," the BBC personifies the penguins while still emphasizing their natural element. While in The Cat in the Hat, the animals were meant to be seen as human-like in order to engage children's interest and amuse them, the animals in Baby Penguins are meant to be seen as animals, to be appreciated in their natural state. By using the term "friends," then, the BBC allows this appreciation to occur while still encouraging the child's imagination and interest in the penguins. The term "friends" is used again to refer to the penguins after the author depicts the mother penguin leaving the baby to go get food. The author writes, "Who will stay with the chick? His friends! They huddle together to keep warm" (BBC 5). Thus, the repeated use of the word "friends" in this situation reinforces the human concept of friendship, that of those who are there to protect a child when the parent is not present.

This sort of light personification occurs throughout the book. Baby penguins are described as liking to "play," a word that human children would associate with themselves and their own play (BBC 7). Instead of using scientific terms to refer to a female maternal penguin and its offspring, humanlike terms "mother" "baby," and "grown-up penguin" are… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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