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Familiar Wit and Whimsy in PBS Kids’ Science Show ‘The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That’

catinthehatknowsalotaboutthat_300x289.jpgWith the familiar whimsy that Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” employed to instill in children a love of reading, PBS Kids’ “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That” is poised to inspire the innate scientist in them.

In the original “The Cat in the Hat” book, the Cat offered Sally and Nick a diversion from a dreary rainy day. In the TV show, he offers them adventures to learn why, for instance, Nick can’t make honey for his ice cream by glopping an assortment of syrups on it.

“Show Me the Honey” was one of the episodes in the debut show Sept. 6. Characters and the environment they inhabit are rendered in the distinctive Dr. Seuss style, and the Cat even talks (taking on the voice, now, of award-winning actor Martin Short) in the same wise and silly manner as he tells Nick and Sally — what else? — “Your mother will not mind at all if you do.” (But they do always check with her before hopping in the thinga-ma-jigger to seek out the answer to their latest “Why?”)

In “Show Me the Honey,” the starting point is one that children (and, let’s be honest, adults, too) can readily identify with: Nick’s rational child-logic of “If bees can do it, so can I; I just need to find the secret ingredient.” When the Cat takes him and Sally to a beehive, they learn not only how it’s really done (science) but that bees are the only ones that can make it (nature). These aren’t one-track-mind kids, though; there’s plenty of play, too, such as when they follow the bees to flowers and bounce around on the petals.

Shorter sketches break up the longer ones, with quizzes such as “What makes it a bird?” Pointing out that whales sing, too, and that not all birds fly, our hero sums up the solution in a Dr. Seuss-style chant: “The mystery’s solved by The Cat in the Hat. All birds have feathers, and that’s simply that.”

Parents, you’re missing out if you don’t watch this show with your kids. Besides enjoying an entertaining review of scientific facts and relationships you might have forgotten about, you can catch a few sly ones that seemingly are written to go a little higher than three to four feet: the “Show Me the Honey” title, for one, and this response from one of a flock identified as Canadian gees — “How should I know? I’m a goose, eh?”

Produced by Portfolio Entertainment Inc. and Collingwood O’Hare Productions in association with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Random House Children’s Entertainment, Treehouse and PBS Kids, “The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That” was created in response to recent findings that children graduating from kindergarten are less prepared to learn about science than about other subjects. The series supports young children’s science learning by introducing scientific inquiry skills, teaching core science concepts and vocabulary, and preparing preschoolers for kindergarten and first-grade science curriculum — all in whimsical style. “Dr. Seuss was so passionate about science, nature and the survival of the planet, he surely would have loved that the science-based book series he conceived is being brought to television in such a grand fashion,” says Kate Klimo, Dr. Seuss’ Random House publisher and executive director of development for Random House Children’s Entertainment.

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