Let’s Talk the Cat’s Quizzler from Dr Seuss

The second of the six pulled Dr Seuss books to be discussed on this site. Originally released in 1976 this book features the Cat in the Hat taking the readers through a series of questions, puzzles, and riddles. The point is to score higher than Ziggy and Zizzy Zozzfozzel who got a perfect score. All wrong.

Honestly, it’s not that great a book. Some questions are beginner riddles to stretch young minds. Then there are ones which play off of word play, homophones, or flat out typos that the brain auto corrects. There’s no plot. Just page after page of 1 to 3 questions. All of the answers are in the back of the book.

Now, these are kids books and I have to keep that in mind. Because I found much of this book to be annoying. Two Seuss creatures playing Tic Tac Toe and who will win – the X’s or O’s. Well, that depends on who’s turn is next. The next move will win but is the next move from the player who is X or the player who is O? I can’t answer a question with such variables!

The best is which turtle will get through the maze first? The answer appears to be neither until the answers in the back point out that if one of the turtles goes outside of the walls of the maze he can reach the finish. There are rules, Seuss!

So why is the book getting pulled? There are two questions about “the Japanese”. The first, “do the Japanese eat with pogo sticks or joss sticks?” The answer of course is neither, they’re called chopsticks. The question is even odder when placed right next to “what do Italians call macaroni?” (They call it macaroni.)

But that’s not the only one in the book. “How old do you have to be to be a Japanese?” Nothing in this book is going for a Seuss rhyme. Nor a certain amount of syllables. This could have said “be Japanese” and the earlier one “Japanese people”. Actually the earlier one could probably go. Purposely using the wrong names for something is a way to take any power away from them. Just witness a man hitting on a woman for example. “What’s your boyfriend’s name? Timmy?” Tommy. “Whatever. Like it matters.” Completely disrespects Timmy. Or Tommy. See, it works! Also, that’s a whole lot of yellow in that picture. Coincidence? Sure. Could be. But these books go through many people before reaching the public. Some of whom are employed to edit for content.

I think there’s a way to rewrite the chopsticks joke in a more appropriate way. The age joke could be done with a tiny rewrite and a little art change. I have many comics in digital, graphic novel, and single issue forms that have been altered along the way. Coloring errors, inking, things in the background that are unimportant to the story and don’t look that great. None of it is censoring the entire work or “cancelling”. Most of the time they make it better. For anyone that’s really concerned about “The Cat’s Quizzler” a couple edits that don’t change the book at all would solve the issues in this particular book.

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