Soon after we got the news that our first granddaughter was on the way, I geared up. I bought horse toys, stuffed horses, horse books and horse clothes. I got anything and everything I could get my hands on, except, of course, an actual horse. But Aubrey was going to be introduced to the world of equines at the earliest possible moment. I would see to that.
So far, this has worked out backward for me. Instead of introducing the baby to the world of horses, I got introduced to world of babies. Bottles and babysitting. Diapers and all that go with them. Strollers, swings, naptime. Teething, fussiness, irresistible cuteness and amazing endurance (not mine).
I have been reintroduced to kids' videos and television. Sure, at eight months Aubrey views insurance commercials (LET'S GET READY TO BUNDLLLLLLLLLLLLE…..) and the Bubble Guppies as equally entertaining. However, we still get treated to a healthy dose of actual made for children programing. I'm not afraid to tell you that Dora the Explorer freaks me out with the way she looks directly into my eyes through the TV monitor, pleading for assistance with her current navigation problem. She wants my help? She already has a talking monkey as an aide for Pete's sake. A bi-lingual monkey. I don't need to be bothered like this.
I also note that The Cat in the Hat has made a come back. This is good to see, although he's not quite the character we knew in the 60's. I'm thinking Early Learning Experts and parents in general finally figured out that as much as we loved that mischievous cat, it was never really a good idea to teach children that it's acceptable to allow a strange adult anything into the house while the parents are not at home.
The 21st Century Cat in the Hat displays great respect for parental guidance and authority. "Your mother wouldn't mind if you do" - a standard line for the TV cat - has become a cue for the child to actually consult with the mother to see if she indeed does not mind. I like this because it teaches kids to investigate and check sources. Take note mainstream corporate media.
So, when I saw If I Ran the Horse Show: All About Horses, by Bonnie Worth being offered by Random House Children's Books, I figured it was an educational sort of thing. But, the title was intriguing and I couldn't help but think of all the fun and chaos Sally and I experienced with the classic Cat in the Hat. I thought maybe this topic would bring a little of the old Cat back into the house - or in this case, into the show ring. Think of the possibilities!
I was hoping for something like this:
The sun is so sunny,
And you like fun that is funny,
So come to the horse show,
And I will take all your money!
And here we have,
Horse One and Horse Two,
Neither one knows what to do!
We let them run up,
We let them run down,
We take them in circles,
And bring them around.
They walk, canter, and trot,
But now, so it seems,
All they learned, they forgot.
So we see them run and have fun,
With big bumps, jumps, kicks and a hop,
No one knows when they will stop!
So what does this new Cat give us? The cover depicts helmeted participants riding double on a horse in a show ring being led by the Cat. A promising start.
The inside cover quotes the Cat:
I'm the Cat in the Hat!
And today we will go
to my Super-Tremendous
Stupendous Horse Show!
More Martin Short-like than Seussian, but okay.
The title page depicts a young lad on a Paint being led by Thing 1. That's good.
Turn the page and it looks like they are holding the Cat's Super-Tremendous Stupendous Horse Show in an indoor arena. Acceptable.
That's it. There's no show. The rest of the book provides all kinds of good, solid horse information for kids. There are basic definitions: mare, stallion, filly, colt, and a delicate treatment of "gelding." There's horse anatomy, a discussion of gaits, hooves and shoes, tack and saddles, and a display of various equestrian disciplines. There are several pages devoted to the different kinds of breeds. Lots of good stuff, to be sure. But you won't find a horse show - of any kind - in this book.
As a learning source for kids, the book is great. And the illustrations of the Cat by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu are faithful to Theodor Geisel's original. But…
If the Cat in the Hat ran a show,
We would have the funniest fun,
As we all well know.
But why bother to get up and go,
To an unfun thing like a no-show horse show?