Who is this guy anyway, some sort of dog hat expert??
June 15, 2016 9:32 PM   Subscribe

 
This was one of my younger brother's favorite books when we were little. We read it like a billion times.

It was not my first choice of book (though I loved the tree party at the end) and reading this article made that 6 year old inside me particularly pleased.
posted by aniola at 9:40 PM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


And this is why I learned to sometimes favorite my own comments.
posted by aniola at 9:42 PM on June 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


You know you're a parent when you have really strong feelings about shit like this. Me, if I lived in the world of Go Dog Go, I'd just hang out with the three dogs at a party on a boat at night. Or maybe with the dog sipping what appears to be lemonade under the house. The dog party at the end is not my scene at all.

While we're at it, where the hell is the extra fox going with that ax in Dr Seuss's ABC??
posted by town of cats at 9:49 PM on June 15, 2016 [20 favorites]


5,000 readings and i never got the sexual undertones. Huh.
posted by GuyZero at 9:53 PM on June 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


You know you're a parent when you have really strong feelings about shit like this.

i spent like ten minutes this afternoon ranting to my wife about how the dinosaurs on dinosaur train have a time traveling train that can operate underwater despite not having mastered elementary tool use
posted by murphy slaw at 9:54 PM on June 15, 2016 [51 favorites]


I liked her hats.
posted by mazola at 9:55 PM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I was shocked when the link did not lead to a piece by Mallory Ortberg.
posted by blahblahblah at 9:56 PM on June 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


My reactions while reading were, in order:
1. "This is pretty amusing, much needed in a crappy week."
2. "And at the same time, it's a weirdly heteronormative and gender-binary-stereotype normative reading of the text that sort of buys into the book's own 60s assumptions even as it mocks them -- which makes it all the more interesting, really."
3. "Oh Jesus lighten the fuck up, Fellini."
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:07 PM on June 15, 2016 [21 favorites]


spent like ten minutes this afternoon ranting to my wife about how the dinosaurs on dinosaur train have a time traveling train that can operate underwater despite not having mastered elementary tool use

Pretty sure the Geeat Old Ones built it, along with the time gates.
posted by Artw at 10:12 PM on June 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I also used to have a whole garbage pop psych theory that involved determining your personality type and emotional wounds based on which Cat in the Hat character(s) you relate to most. The story's like a big battle of psychotherapy archetypes .
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:13 PM on June 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


I thought the big party on the tree was cool.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:23 PM on June 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


oh man i am such a fish

i am totally bringing this up at my next therapy session
posted by murphy slaw at 10:24 PM on June 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


And after thinking about the whole premise of the open letter I'm unpacking a lot of weird shit that I'd never realized until now.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:29 PM on June 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have never read this book, so maybe this is addressed on one of the pages that wasn't shown, but -- how do we know this is a female dog?
posted by retrograde at 10:38 PM on June 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


retrograde, in children's books it is basically impossible to be a male poodle
posted by town of cats at 10:44 PM on June 15, 2016 [27 favorites]


It's implied by the cultural context of the time it was written in.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:47 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


It is a super fun challenge to switch genders in picture books when kids can't read yet. Suddenly they become 90% female by default. Another one is to switch genders by hair length or color or animal species or - whatever you can roughly divide the cast by. You get lots of daddy animals taking their daughters out and groups of girl birds flying to the moon and so on.

Go Dog Go is the book that cracked reading for my two boys, one of whom had big reading challenges of dyslexia and ESL, and the worn hardback of it is one of the most precious things I have, with memories of him on my lap sounding out the words and rising in excitement to the satisfying end of "a dog party!" This was pre-pinterest or we'd have had those themed party hats and cakes for sure.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:03 PM on June 15, 2016 [16 favorites]


Oh man. My daughter loves loves loves this book and whenever we get to this part my husband and I play the "roles" of the dog with the hat and the dog who doesn't like her hats.

And I put soooooooo much disdain into that good-by to express that dude, I could give a shit if you don't like my hat, I was just asking to be polite, jeez.

And yes to gender swapping early childhood books. We do this with the Very Hungry Caterpillar because somewhere along the way I started pantomiming as the caterpillar and my daughter loves it. I dressed her as a superhero called the Beautiful Butterfly for Halloween last year, in fact. And I do sometimes worry about that poor caterpillar's diet.
posted by offalark at 11:12 PM on June 15, 2016 [18 favorites]


One thing I have learned from many hours of reading to the boy: a surprising number of characters in children's books are assholes.
posted by bigbigdog at 11:58 PM on June 15, 2016 [23 favorites]


I LOVED this book when I was little, I was confused by some of the items dogs were holding during the tree party (loved the idea of a tree you could hang out in like that) the odd cattail thing I just now realized is a rattle.
Another fave with more confusing things is "The Silly Book" I thought the man on the moon looked like a mango pit and I did not understand the "Giraffe neck sweater" on the turtle, (I was from Hawaii).
posted by boilermonster at 12:21 AM on June 16, 2016


bigbigdog: "One thing I have learned from many hours of reading to the boy: a surprising number of characters in children's books are assholes."

"Bugbread Junior, which fairy tale do you want me to read? I'll read you any story in the book, except Jack and the Bean Stalk, because Jack is a jerk."
posted by Bugbread at 12:43 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I adored this book. I loved the book so much, it's honestly alarming. I would study the party tree scene for what felt like hours, just looking at the scene, drinking it in. Honestly, if I was a parent with a child that obsessed with a single scene from a picture book, I would be worried that they might have some serious developmental issues, I liked it that much. Even now, I can look at that scene and lose a good five to ten minutes.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:45 AM on June 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


It is a super fun challenge to switch genders in picture books when kids can't read yet.

I do this with Goodnight Construction Site. Why are all the construction vehicles dudes?! why can't the bulldozer be a lady? I switch pronouns all the time (not like it matters to my son, who uses all gendered pronouns interchangeably still).
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:48 AM on June 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


To be fair to the jerk-face dog, it is possible that the problem with the ski hat is a legitimate fear of impending ski-related injury rather than idle hat-related malice.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:52 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I, too, have read this book approximately 5,000 times. About 2,5000 times when I was a kid and the other half to my own kids. (and if I'm lucky I'll read it another couple thousand times to my own kids.)

I always thought the hat thing was totally healthy. Do you like my hat? No. OK, see ya! I never thought the 'girl' dog was asking for approval or anything, just if the other dog liked her hat. And at the end I didn't think she was like, now we're together forever. I just thought they were like going on to the next adventure. Because these dogs are really really busy. I can see how 'she' could be taken as seeking 'his' approval but she seems so independent it doesn't seem like she'll be crushed if he doesn't like her hat. She'll go somewhere else. (Dammit) Of course, maybe it would be a nice twist if half the time, 'he' asked 'her' and she said, like, 'No. I do not like your hat.' In fact, that would make it all maybe a much better book... And now, somewhat insanely, I'm going to do some master-class level procrastinating and go upstairs, find the book and see if/how that would work. Because I think I'm onto something here. Because I'm the best procrastinator.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:08 AM on June 16, 2016 [12 favorites]


“I’m just a boy, standing in front of a girl, telling her I don’t like her hat.”

FTW
posted by chavenet at 2:20 AM on June 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


I was just asking to be polite, jeez.

By fishing for compliments?
posted by IndigoJones at 3:02 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


By fishing for compliments?

It's obvious she's using her collection of dazzling hats as an icebreaker. The Green would advise her the same.
posted by monster truck weekend at 3:24 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I loved this book when I was little, and my kid loves it now. When I was little, the "do you like my hat?" exchanges were my favorite, but now they make me want to take the hat poodle on a girls' night out and tell her she's already beautiful and well-accessorized. That other dog is negging you! He's never gonna like your hats! Stop trying to impress him! Oh my god don't get into the car with him!

I also bristle at some of the Dr. Seuss books I read to the kid. At the end of The Cat in the Hat ("what would YOU do if your mother asked YOU?") I let him know to please, please tell me if anyone breaks into our house and starts bothering you or fucking with our shit, especially if it's a giant cat. Green Eggs and Ham has me torn, because it's good to be open to new experiences, but Sam-I-Am obviously doesn't respect boundaries and should have just gone away at the first no. Fox in Socks is my favorite of the books, because although it too has an annoying intrusive character who doesn't know when to stop, Knox eventually stands up to him. Fuck you, fox!
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:32 AM on June 16, 2016 [34 favorites]




At least he doesn't try to dogsplain why he doesn't like it.

"Rell, ractually..."
posted by condour75 at 4:01 AM on June 16, 2016 [31 favorites]


Saw this this morning and came straight here to post it - of course someone got there first. This was my favorite book growing up. And the hat vignettes were my favorite part. I always felt - from the look on her face - that she 100% didn't care that he didn't like them - that she saw it as a reflection of his poor taste.

I never put it together before, but this book may actually be the impetus for my lifelong obsession with accessories. Yay hats!
posted by Mchelly at 4:25 AM on June 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


I was unprepared for the amount of nostalgia triggered by those images.

I *HEART!!!!!!!!!* Go Dog, Go.
posted by JohnFromGR at 4:54 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


This was the book that taught me to read! Go Dog, Go!

I remember being super excited to get to the big party at the end, but that three dog party on a boat at night sounds pretty good right now.
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:25 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


A "three dog party" sounds like a "three pipe problem" from the Sherlock Holmes stories. Like, "Whew, that was a tough week. This calls for a three dog party!"
posted by gilrain at 6:12 AM on June 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


MomFreedom and I will still, apropos of nothing, ask each other if the other likes our party hat. We don't even have to be wearing hats at the time.

It really hit home how many times I read this as a kid when, as an adult, I bought the Spanish version and remembered, beat for beat, all the pictures from the English one. Like the one dog that was awake in the bed.
posted by chainsofreedom at 6:14 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like to think the band Three Dog Night got their name from that party, even though they didn't. I always loved that page and that lollipop looks really tasty.

There's one little detail that I missed as a kid and marvel at now: the tiny city on the horizon in the blimp illustration ("Go down, dogs. Do not play up there"). It's just a few tiny pencilly rectangles, but it's still somehow just perfect.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:27 AM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


My partner is very upset by the use of ladders in Eric Carle's 'Daddy Can You Get the Moon For Me?' He refuses to read it because of the ladder physics. This is a true story.
posted by palindromic at 6:36 AM on June 16, 2016 [14 favorites]


The Little Golden Book classic "A Name For Kitty" is responsible for 38% of suicides in North America.
posted by dr_dank at 6:53 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


A "three dog party" sounds like a "three pipe problem" from the Sherlock Holmes stories. Like, "Whew, that was a tough week. This calls for a three dog party!"


oh god i just realized

that party is at night

it's a three dog night
posted by murphy slaw at 6:53 AM on June 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


The Little Golden Book classic "A Name For Kitty" is responsible for 38% of suicides in North America.

one of these days i am going to hurl our copy of "the pokey little puppy" off of the nearest cliff, pell mell, tumble-bumble
posted by murphy slaw at 6:56 AM on June 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


retrograde: I have never read this book, so maybe this is addressed on one of the pages that wasn't shown, but -- how do we know this is a female dog?
I had remembered that the hat wearing dog was, in context, obviously the one and only female in the Go-Dog-Goiverse, Smurfette style. But I got our copy of the book off the shelf and in fact there are other poodles, there are other feathered hats, there are other pink dogs, there's a variety of attire. The dogs are not as obviously gendered as I had remembered. And I read this book fairly often.

Overall I would guess the author probably did conceive of the hat-wearing dog as female, but it's not the airtight-in-context case I thought it was.

Regardless, playing games with gender may not change things much. Even a very innocent, sexless reading of the hat sub-plot comes out as: "I see you have gone to great effort to make an impossible-to-ignore spectacle of yourself by wearing something so ridiculously impractical that it merely wearing it becomes the only activity you can engage in! No more skiing or scooter-riding for you! Now we can be friends! You may now adorn my car by occupying the passenger seat." The creepy approval-seeking power game is there regardless of the ultimate motivations or the genders involved.

This aspect of the book has bothered me since I was re-introduced to it as an adult a couple of years ago and I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who's noticed.
posted by Western Infidels at 7:13 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yes! This dynamic between pink-dog and "I do not like your hat" dog bothers me every single time. I eventually decided that I was just going to pretend that the pink dog actually hired the other dog as a hat consultant, which is why she does not take the rejections personally. But then it's a little dubious that they ride off into the sunset together. I mean, really hat-consultants shouldn't date their clients, should they? Maybe their consulting agreement is done now that the Big Dog Party is over.

Also, is no one else bothered by the contradiction between the "Night is not a time to play. Night is a time to sleep" page and the "three dogs, at a party, on a boat, at night" page? What message are kids supposed to learn, here? I feel like such a hypocrite when I read those with no comment on the contradictions...
posted by OnceUponATime at 7:27 AM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


Is there where I can complain about the guy in The Giving Tree? If I had had children, I would have refused to read that book to them, because oh.my.god. oh.my.god. stop.being.such.an.asshole.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:29 AM on June 16, 2016 [13 favorites]


The Universal Studios Dr Seuss park needs a merchandise upgrade. When we were there last year we came up with shirts that said "no I do not like your hat." Much cooler than the Thing One and Thing Two they've got going on now.
posted by Biblio at 7:38 AM on June 16, 2016


At the end of The Cat in the Hat ("what would YOU do if your mother asked YOU?") I let him know to please, please tell me if anyone breaks into our house and starts bothering you or fucking with our shit, especially if it's a giant cat.
When my siblings and I were kids, The Cat in the Hat was the one Dr. Seuss book that was not in the house because our parents really didn't like the weird 'Unpredictable stranger shows up when kids are home alone and causes chaos, but everything's back to normal by the time the parents get home, so.... that's ok I guess?" message.
posted by usonian at 7:40 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Giving Tree is both a horror story and a cruel joke on parents.
posted by Artw at 7:42 AM on June 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


In fairness to The Cat in the Hat, at least he tidies up after himself.
posted by Artw at 7:44 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is this the thread where I can say that Curious George is a terrible book filled with terrible people and fuck everything about it?

Except George himself. George is ok.
posted by bondcliff at 7:52 AM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm so glad other people also feel this way about this book and specifically this one piece of it. It's so memorable because of that ambiguity or discomfort -- what tone of voice are these dogs using, why is he being a jerk about the hat, does it bother her or is she like "your loss"? What happens when an adult is flagrantly rude -- is nobody going to tell that dog that he was being rude and to go apologize? In my memory the poodle is to be performed in the icy tones of a bad Austen dramatization, "good DAY sir."
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:52 AM on June 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the Giving Tree, that's messed up. Okay, if we're talking about other books too... In The Rainbow Fish, isn't it a little convenient that things work out so that Rainbow has exactly enough super shiny scales so that each of his friends gets one, and he still has one left for himself?

What if he has exactly as many friends as scales? Should he give away all of them and keep none for himself? What if he has more friends than scales, how does he choose who to give them to, or how many (if any) to keep for himself?

What if there are 25 scales and 12 fish (including The Rainbow Fish)? Does the Rainbow fish have to give everyone else 2 scales and just keep one for himself? What if there are 27 scales and 12 fish? Is it okay if everyone else gets two but Rainbow keeps three? Will the other fish still shun him for being more beautiful than them, if he does?

What if he gives his scales away to the friends that are already in his community, and then five new fish move in. What does he owe the newbies? What do the other fish who got his scales owe them?

What if another (bigger) Rainbow Fish moves in so that together they have more than enough shiny scales for everyone to get one, but neither has enough individually? How do they figure out who gives up how many scales? If the new fish starts out with twice as many scales as "our" fish, should she get to keep twice as many scales? If she also gives away twice as many?

What has the Octopus ever done for anyone, to be so self righteous? Living in isolation like that, disappearing in a cloud of ink when someone has questions? How does that help the community?

And is what the little blue fish does really okay? I mean just demanding that someone give you their stuff, and offering nothing in return, and straight up shunning them out of envy if they won't? Sure it's "just one little scale" so at first it seems like a reasonable demand, but it's totally unfair if Little Blue gets one and no one else does. Does Little Blue even care about that? If not, isn't he just as selfish as Rainbow? And of course, in the end it doesn't cost Rainbow just "one little scale" -- it costs him nearly everything he had. So the demand doesn't seem so reasonable anymore.

I can't read this book without feeling uncomfortably sympathetic with Mallory Ortberg's version of Ayn Rand so I have stopped reading it.
He realized then there was no end to their greed,
that they would not be satisfied until he had given away all his scales,
that they would stop at nothing to make him like themselves,
dull and stripped bare and part of the faceless, nameless “We.”
On the other hand, I love that the Cat in the Hat is both the hero and the villain in his story. And I love that it leaves that last question unresolved "What would you do if you mother asked you?" I hope my kids would tell me, and yet I understand that in some sense I would be better off not knowing, because it would only freak me out.

The moral ambiguity of Dr. Seuss, in comparison to the horribly oversimplified morality of most children's stories (where there are Good Guys and Bad Guys and there's always a Right Thing To Do) is a big part of the appeal. I want my kids to grow up understanding that "Everyone is the Hero Their Own Story" and "Be Kind. Everyone You Meet is Fighting A Terrible Battle You Know Nothing About" and there aren't enough children's books where those are The Moral of The Story, but Cat in the Hat comes close. Certainly the kids fight a terrible battle the mom knows nothing about, and the Cat is the hero in his own eyes.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:01 AM on June 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


Great piece, and also great book - one that I wasn't passionate about as a kid but loved as a parent. There are a few classics picture book that reach the level of great literature, and to me this is one of them. I agree that there is ambiguity and the narrative leaves a lot up to interpretation, yet somehow also evokes emotion. I think part of why this article works is you can totally read Go Dog Go in a way that can be critiqued this way, but likewise you can read it in other ways too.

Regarding changing pronouns in picture books: I always always do this when reading to a pre-reader. It invariably makes the book better and hopefully does some tiny part to mitigate the ambient sexism that toddlers and preschoolers are absorbing every day.
posted by latkes at 8:10 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


(27 scales and 12 fish means Rainbow gets to keep FIVE and everyone else gets two. I just feel the need to correct that. Carry on)
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:15 AM on June 16, 2016


Is this the thread where I can say that Curious George is a terrible book filled with terrible people and fuck everything about it?

Oh, man, I just started reading these to my nephew. They are so long. Sooo long. Like, in Curious George Gets a Job he gets like, 4 different jobs and has several different non-job-related adventures! Tighten that shit up!

My favorite terrible person is the lady who sees George after he has fallen out a window and broken his leg and is all 'Good I hope you learned your lesson'.
posted by graventy at 8:17 AM on June 16, 2016 [12 favorites]


Maybe the dog is not a girl, and the controversy is not really about the hat.
posted by amtho at 8:17 AM on June 16, 2016


May it's actually different dogs each time.
posted by Artw at 8:21 AM on June 16, 2016


Maybe these brief dialogs are intended as an opportunity for parents to introduce the idea of critique into children's literary pursuits.
posted by amtho at 8:22 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, I just started reading these to my nephew.

We only had the first one. I don't remember it too well I just remember thinking it was terrible. George smokes, the Man in the Yellow Hat is basically a poacher, the police throw George in jail for, I don't even remember. I think he was loitering or or just driving on the wrong side of the road or something. George is just being a monkey through the whole book and the world hates him for it.
posted by bondcliff at 8:23 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Is this the thread where I can say that Curious George is a terrible book filled with terrible people and fuck everything about it?

Except George himself. George is ok.


We do not read the classic George books, but my 2-year-old LOVES the contemporary Curious George show. I will now share my thoughts on contemporary Curious George.*

The Man in the Yellow Hat once had a promising future in academia until he was sidelined by his many and sundry neuroses, only one example of which is his obsession with dressing in yellow. Fortunately for him, he had a large trust fund to draw on - see his amazing apartment overlooking his city's version of Central Park, his country house, his classic yellow roadster - which allowed him to remain tangentially involved in the academic world he so loved. This is how he ended up with George, a sort of Nim Chimpsky-type research subject, who somehow has the cognitive capacity and emotional development of a 4 or 5-year-old human child.

George is a force of destruction (alignment: chaotic good), who successfully deceives the humans around him about the extent and nature of the destruction he has wrought, yet he is still allowed to return to the museum, the neighbor's working farm, the bustling Italian restaurant. How? Because those folks are all in on the project. Each trip outside of the home is a learning experience/experiment staffed by confederates of the researchers. Visits with Dr. Wiseman and his physician are obviously data collection exercises. Can George problem solve? What is his theory of other minds? How do sentient beings learn empathy, deception, make friends, learn basic physics? What if one person (Bill - the know-nothing know-it-all) never acknowledges that George is a monkey*?

For the Man in the Yellow Hat, George is the animating force of his life, providing him with meaningful (if mostly uncompensated) work, companionship, and encouragement to overcome some of his own psychological issues. For his part, George remains blissfully unaware of his status as a research animal and of the the artificiality of his interactions with startlingly obtuse adult humans, although it is unsurprising to me that most of his strongest connections are with other non-human animals, who have no means for such benign deceptions at their disposal.




*I have watched so, so many hours of Curious George.

**He is canonically a tailless monkey, not an ape. Even though by most taxonomic indicators, he would be an ape.

posted by palindromic at 8:26 AM on June 16, 2016 [23 favorites]


I always liked The Cat in the Hat Comes Back better, because the kids are clearly all, "Cripes, it's THIS fucker again."
posted by Chrysostom at 8:26 AM on June 16, 2016 [12 favorites]


(Reading the comments on that Mallory Ortberg piece now and feel the need to share Mallory's own comment: "80% of the time Rand is out of her gourd and 20% of the time she is more right than any other human being on earth. LIVE FOR YOURSELF. PROTECT YOUR SCALES.")
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:27 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


how do we know this is a female dog?

Because it is a pink poodle with a silly haircut. Sigh. As a long-time owner of (black, non-silly haircut, male) poodles I despair that cartoon poodles are always portrayed this way. How do they ever breed when there are no male poodles? And on walks with my dog, people always ask about "her." They probably also think poodles pick their own style of haircut.
posted by binturong at 8:27 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


The comments are great!
'I think she’s messing with him.'

'she: a promising young protégé who he knows will respond to this tough love approach'

'The concept, “I am amazing in my own right, so who cares what others think?” ironically does not often occur to those with that kind of confidence.'
posted by amtho at 8:27 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


do they still sell the curious george book where he goes on an ether binge
posted by murphy slaw at 8:27 AM on June 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


Yep! Curious George Takes A Job.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:39 AM on June 16, 2016 [6 favorites]


The dog party at the end is not my scene at all.
posted by town of cats

Well, I would think not!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:41 AM on June 16, 2016 [17 favorites]


In other news of kids' books with messages of dubious worth, we got a copy of The Pout-Pout Fish that I try to pretend doesn't exist, because the entire book is about the fish's friends telling him to smile. Eat a deflated balloon, ocean jerks; he doesn't have to smile!

Although (do board books need spoiler alerts?) he does get happy when a pretty shiny fish kisses him, which is not in itself a great message, but it could potentially be spun into "instead of telling someone to smile, maybe try actually doing something to cheer them up."
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:47 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I, too, have read "Go, Dog, Go" about 5000 times to my two kids, and it's still a running gag in winter when I put on a hat to go outside - "Do you like my hat?" "No, Dad, I do NOT." "Good bye!" I have to say, I've never thought of it in the context of this article before ... Jeez.

OTOH, after reading "Green Eggs and Ham" for the requisite 5000 times, I came across an article (probably here, where else?) that claimed that of course eating green eggs and ham was a metaphor for sex, and since then, I haven't been able to read "Would you eat it on a boat? Would you eat it with a goat?" without an eye roll.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:49 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


Artw: The Giving Tree is both a horror story and a cruel joke on parents.

Yeah, why on earth is that supposed to be a good kids' book? No way.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:54 AM on June 16, 2016


My daughter's favorite Seuss book is "Hop on Pop" but she never has taken to heart the message of 'STOP You must not hop on Pop.'
posted by palindromic at 9:00 AM on June 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


OTOH, after reading "Green Eggs and Ham" for the requisite 5000 times, I came across an article (probably here, where else?) that claimed that of course eating green eggs and ham was a metaphor for sex, and since then, I haven't been able to read "Would you eat it on a boat? Would you eat it with a goat?" without an eye roll.

I, umm, wrote such a thing for the April Fools' issue of an erotic webzine back in 1999. I'd supply a link, but I don't have it bookmarked, and I ran into a corporate firewall attempting to find it again just now. Whee.
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:00 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


You are not my mother, you are a SNORT.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:07 AM on June 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


As horrible as all these books are they have nothing on The Hole Book, written in 1908. which begins with a boy accidentally firing a gun and continues with page after page of racial stereotype. You can read it here.

My wife has a copy of it for some reason. It's terrible and amazing.
posted by bondcliff at 9:14 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh, man, I just started reading these to my nephew. They are so long. Sooo long. Like, in Curious George Gets a Job he gets like, 4 different jobs and has several different non-job-related adventures! Tighten that shit up!

I cannot stop laughing at this, not sure why. Seriously, this entire thread is totally making my day.

Such ripe fodder for a dedicated blog, does one exist?
posted by bologna on wry at 9:17 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


tag yourself

i'm tree party ice cream thief dog
posted by poffin boffin at 9:27 AM on June 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


I love this thread so much
posted by town of cats at 9:28 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


As horrible as all these books are they have nothing on The Hole Book, written in 1908... You can read it here.

Wow.
Tim Nickleby had hooked a fish,
And as about to land it,
When--snap! his fish-pole broke in two--
He couldn't understand it.

Of course the bullet did the trick;--
It would have been more thrilling
If it had punctured Timothy,
Who was in need of drilling.

Yeah, what a shame Timothy wasn't shot, that little asshole.
posted by bologna on wry at 9:29 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


tag yourself

I'm definitely the orange (red?) dipshit top left hurtling myself in the general direction of the cake slice as if I haven't eaten in decades
posted by bologna on wry at 9:35 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


im extremely the grumpy looking one trying to take a nap in the middle of a party
posted by burgerrr at 9:38 AM on June 16, 2016 [8 favorites]


Such ripe fodder for a dedicated blog, does one exist?

Drew Magary has an occasional column called Why Your Children's Television Program Sucks. He has covered such shows as "Super Why?", "PAW Patrol," and "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood."
posted by palindromic at 9:41 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Three Dog Party" sounds to me like a famous math problem. "For n=1, the solution is trivial, as are cases when n is a power of 2. Primes 5 or greater are simple enough, but the Three Dog Party provides surprising complexity, and has not been satisfactorily solved...."

There's probably a story about Fermat leaving a snide comment in the margine of a kid's book....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:46 AM on June 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm the dog holding a lollipop in the boat. Or is that a red checker on a stick? Anyway, I'm seconds away from tipping the idiot with the banjo overboard so we can all enjoy some fucking silence for five minutes is that too much to ask these days?
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:53 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm the idiot dog with the banjo.
posted by bondcliff at 9:54 AM on June 16, 2016 [9 favorites]


i am serious dog leading the dog convoy in my dapper little cap and scarf
posted by murphy slaw at 9:59 AM on June 16, 2016


I have an elegant proof of this theorem, but first I must pat this bunny.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:05 AM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


To be fair to the jerk-face dog, it is possible that the problem with the ski hat is
No, no, no. By ski hat time, the time to be fair to the jerk-face dog is long past.

Don't get me wrong - in the first interaction and a half, I'm totally on jerk-face dog's side! "Do you like my hat?" is an English sentence which means "Tell me your opinion about my hat," and not "I don't care about your opinion, you have to say my hat is nice, because you're my dancing monkey". I'm pretty sure that if we swapped the assumed genders, even Metafilter would recognize that a male walking up to a female and asking her about his appearance doesn't have a right to dictate the response; it would be outrageous to interpret this as a demand for an expression of approval or to shame her for not submitting.

I admit, jerk-face dog has a jerk face right from the start, but again, if we swapped genders and someone tried to criticize "resting-bitch-face dog" for how her appearance affected our interpretations of her speech, we'd quickly recognize the problem there.

But jerk-face loses all sympathy as soon as he swipes that feather off her second hat. What the hell! It's hard to soft-pedal an honest criticism using a few-hundred-word vocabulary, so I can forgive bluntness, but there are no sartorial failings which justify kleptomania.

And it's not entirely impossible that hat dog recognizes this too. What's the big distinction between the first two hats and the last two? The last two are clearly booby traps. Hat dog doesn't actually call jerk-face dog out on his crime, but her very next hat is draped down to her skis and will probably get him killed if he tries to grab it before heading down the mountain again. He doesn't take the bait that time, but that's probably because her third hat was an integrated whole and didn't have any accessories that could be plucked off unnoticed... so her final hat is *all* accessories that could be plucked off unnoticed.

So what happens when jerk-face dog gives in to temptation again? Are the spiders live and venomous? Is the rat carrying plague or hantavirus? Are the candy canes and lollipops poisoned? There's no way to be certain, because it's a children's book and some things you can't spell out... but to me that mop doesn't necessarily say "lost a bet", it may say "will need to clean up after disposing of a body in the near future".

"Good-by!" says excited jerk-face dog. Poor bastard has no idea that he's being tested or that he's about to fail.

"Good-by." says grim hat dog. The punctuation difference isn't an accident, and neither will the epilogue be, regardless of what she manages to get on the police report.
posted by roystgnr at 10:06 AM on June 16, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm the dozing red and black dog in the lower right, passed out after having a few too many Snausages.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:14 AM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I forwarded this FPP to mrs. per flower, who only knows metafilter secondhand through me, and she just wrote me back to say: “Huh, I’ve always such a different reading of this. She’s Ask Culture!”
posted by miles per flower at 10:22 AM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


bondcliff: "the police throw George in jail for, I don't even remember. I think he was loitering or or just driving on the wrong side of the road or something."

He called in a false fire report.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:23 AM on June 16, 2016


Is this the thread where I can say that Curious George is a terrible book filled with terrible people and fuck everything about it?

Then you might love Children’s Stories Made Horrific: Curious George
George wanted to get out. George always wants to get out.
Will George be happy when he gets out, do you think, or will he be happy when he stops wanting to?
...
George walked away.
He was outside, but he was still Caught.
You can be inside and Caught, or you can be outside and Caught,
but if someone has Caught you, you are Caught until they are dead.
Was the man in the yellow hat dead?
posted by straight at 11:38 AM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I want to tag myself as the lone awake dog in the bed, but the reality is I'm Crazy Hat Poodle and always will be.

And on walks with my dog, people always ask about "her." They probably also think poodles pick their own style of haircut.

"I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult." -- Rita Rudner
posted by Mchelly at 12:01 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: It's hard to soft-pedal an honest criticism using a few-hundred-word vocabulary, but there are no sartorial failings which justify kleptomania.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:36 PM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


When my kids were young we had a multi-year running gag of them telling me, "I do not like that hat" every time I wore a hat.
posted by COD at 12:42 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, Crazy Hat Poodle is the name of my new band.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:00 PM on June 16, 2016


As horrible as all these books are they have nothing on The Hole Book, written in 1908. which begins with a boy accidentally firing a gun and continues with page after page of racial stereotype. You can read it here.

That's one weird book.
posted by GuyZero at 1:12 PM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am the red dog reading the book at the party.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:12 PM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think truly the best part about hat dog is that s/he doesn't even deign to give jerk dog a response. Most people would say, "How could you say that?!" or "Geez, rude." but hat dog is just like, "Goodbye then!" Like, I didn't get the answer I wanted, so peace out.

I have always wished for hat dog's confidence.
posted by chainsofreedom at 1:51 PM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


In fifth grade, my class performed a play of The Giving Tree, and I was forced to play the kid. I'm still traumatized.
posted by skycrashesdown at 1:51 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm the blue dog on the right who is all proud for bringing flowers (for no one), is facing the wrong direction, and whom everyone else is ignoring.
posted by rmless at 2:01 PM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


There are FLYING DOGS in that party, people! THIS RAISES QUESTIONS.
posted by GuyZero at 2:35 PM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


...So dogs driving vehicles and talking and reading and playing banjo, you're totally down with that?
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:50 PM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Those are all answers to previous questions.
posted by Bugbread at 2:53 PM on June 16, 2016


...So dogs driving vehicles and talking and reading and playing banjo, you're totally down with that?

I'm sticking to physics here. Those are all physically possible. Perhaps biologically difficult to reconcile with our current understanding of dogs, but I can deal with transhumanist dogs (transcanines?).

Flying however is right out.
posted by GuyZero at 3:07 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Perhaps they're leaping from just-off-frame airplanes?

I haven't seen the book in a while (my son's in his 20's), but I seem to recall at least one airplane involved. Memory's hazy though, so I could be wrong.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:35 PM on June 16, 2016


I'm willing to buy this golden-age Superdog theory but not completely convinced.
posted by GuyZero at 3:47 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


It is a super fun challenge to switch genders in picture books when kids can't read yet.

My wife does this a lot; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

I think it's much funnier to read non-stereotypical voices, like a gruff, low-voiced mom or cute little girl. Try it. It's hard to keep from laughing.

I think truly the best part about hat dog is that s/he doesn't even deign to give jerk dog a response. Most people would say, "How could you say that?!" or "Geez, rude." but hat dog is just like, "Goodbye then!" Like, I didn't get the answer I wanted, so peace out.

I have always wished for hat dog's confidence.


I've read the book many times myself, and have found myself thinking of that poodle, and her bid for acceptance. I think I agree with your interpretation. It's the most generous and hopeful.

s/he doesn't even deign to give jerk dog a response.

I think about "jerk dog" a lot too. I don't think he/she is a jerk. I think he/she is just blunt. She asked him/her questions and got honest responses, without much attitude (IMO). Aside from a semi-serious smirk while wearing the bowler, he/she is all smiles.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:21 PM on June 16, 2016


oh man i am such a fish
i am totally bringing this up at my next therapy session


Happy to help, murphy slaw. (And I also am the fish. It's a blessing AND a curse.)
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:51 PM on June 16, 2016


Flying however is right out.

But there is a cannon and a trampoline right there in the picture for them to become airborne with!
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 6:09 PM on June 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


I mean, really, you can't have a decent dog party without a cannon and a trampoline.
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 6:11 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


mrgrimm: "I think about "jerk dog" a lot too. I don't think he/she is a jerk. I think he/she is just blunt."

I remember as a teen being at a get-together with my parents' friends (grown-ass adults). I had recently started cooking, and one of the people there was a chef from somewhere in northern Europe. I was talking about some sauce I had difficulty preparing, and I said something along the lines of "X sauce is hard to make", to which he replied:

"No, it's not."

I was floored. What a dick! But he kept talking as if nothing unusual had taken place, and once my blood pressure went down I started thinking about cultural differences and how in my culture, even if you think the other person is completely wrong, if you are chatting, as opposed to debating or engaging in serious discussion, you can disagree but you have to surround it with padding. "Some people find it difficult but I've never had a problem" or "It can be difficult at first, but once you learn to do it it becomes very easy" or "It depends how you do it. There are some easy techniques that make it really simple" or the like.

"Do you like my hat?"
"It's interesting. I like the shape. I'm not sure the color suits you, though."

Of course, the argument that the dog isn't a jerk goes out the window when he steals the fucking feather.
posted by Bugbread at 6:27 PM on June 16, 2016 [7 favorites]


Late to the party but I was looking at an (older) board book version of this book compared to a newer version of it and while everyone has covered the hat and gender-binary issues, I have to say WHAT ABOUT THE BLIMP?
posted by jessamyn at 8:02 PM on June 16, 2016


It's not a rigid-body dirigible! Playing on top of it is clearly unsafe and that dog is right to shout at the others about if!
posted by Artw at 8:13 PM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jessamyn, I don't think it's an older vs. newer thing - I think you may be looking at the board book vs the real book. The board book of Go Dog Go (like most of the Dr. Seuss board books, most egregiously the ABC book) truncates the text to fit it into the smaller pages. Which frankly should be illegal.
posted by Mchelly at 8:32 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


The version we have.
posted by Artw at 8:37 PM on June 16, 2016


I am clearly cursed by bad metadata this evening!
posted by jessamyn at 8:39 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Airship safety matters are always worth pursuing.
posted by Artw at 8:39 PM on June 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


I mean, really, you can't have a decent dog party without a cannon and a trampoline.

Or indeed, a decent party of any kind!

In fact, I'm now adding two more items to the list of things to bring to the next Metafilter regional campout...
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:18 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


What an I don't with my life that I haven't been in this thread all day?
posted by maryr at 9:34 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I bought the board book for the baby, fearing my battered precious hardback copy, and immediately threw that abomination IN THE TRASH.

It doesn't even scan properly.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:07 PM on June 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was floored. What a dick!

I too love Germans.
posted by GuyZero at 11:53 PM on June 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Of course, the argument that the dog isn't a jerk goes out the window when he steals the fucking feather.

I've been thinking about this. The only way we can play this where Jerk Dog isn't a judgemental shitwit fit only for writing YouTube comments is if we assume a relationship before the book. Evidence: Jerk Dog's at least a gentleman -- he doffs his bowler to Hat Dog in the scooter sequence -- and therefore we can assume that without prior knowledge he wouldn't have said hello to a strange lady, nor commented on her coiffure, if they hadn't already been friends.

No, the way to play this is that they're super close friends playing HAT CHICKEN. "I'm going to wear shittier hats every day until I make you laugh rule," saith Hat Dog. "Meme me, sunshine," says Jerk Dog. Jerk Dog keeps a straight face during the daisy-topper hat, fine. Hat Dog ups the game with that fucking blue-and-pink chevalier number, and in order to keep his cool Jerk Dog -- who's wearing a bowler now in mock-solidarity -- has to squinch his eyes shut and steal the feather off the thing JUST TO SHOW he's not beat. But he is and they know it. In every frame, Hat Dog gets happier and Jerk Dog gets sadder. By the time they meet on top of the ski mountain, Hat Dog knows they've won: that's naked terror in Jerk Dog's eyes. Where did you get that mile-long bobble hat? Where do they even sell those in stores?

This culminates in the dog party, where Hat Dog climbs up a ladder wearing this Project Runway no-clothes-bop spider turban, and Jerk Dog breaks down, and they drive off into the sunset both wearing stupid hats and Jerk Dog has to buy Hat Dog a beer and Hat Dog's commitment to stupid hats is never questioned again. The end.

Okay, I just wrote "Go Dog, Go" fanfiction, so I'm going to re-read "All of my issues with the "Goodnight Moon" bedroom" to help the shame.
posted by monster truck weekend at 1:36 AM on June 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


With that scathing critique of Goodnight Moon, not one mention of the book next to the telephone on the bedside in this pictire?

What could be creepier than a book describing EXACTLY what you're doing at the present?
posted by dr_dank at 4:28 AM on June 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am yellow hovering oblivious dog.
posted by h00py at 4:29 AM on June 17, 2016


monster truck, I was just going to say that that sounds like a fanfic I would read, and you beat me to it. Actually, I've probably read 3 or 4 fanfics that run basically on those lines. Well done.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:54 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do we have to be one of the party dogs or can we be any dog? Because I'm totally the dog with the toy airplane on the Ferris wheel.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:39 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I, umm, wrote such a thing for the April Fools' issue of an erotic webzine back in 1999.

Right, I knew I was forgetting something. I give you The Seussian Contribution to the Sexual Revolution.
posted by Shmuel510 at 7:01 AM on June 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


“I am a moderately well-drawn ketchup-colored poodle and my storyline is the closest thing this book has to a plot. I am the only thing pulling the narrative along. I’m well-groomed, enjoy skiing, and have enough disposable income to amass a comfortable hat wardrobe.”

I am a 95% match for this profile on OK cupid
posted by mabelstreet at 8:48 AM on June 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


Where did you get that mile-long bobble hat? Where do they even sell those in stores?

Etsy, duh.
posted by maryr at 1:51 PM on June 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ugly Volvo? Who is this woman anyway, some sort of car design expert?
posted by effbot at 3:55 PM on July 1, 2016


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