In addition, the human pronoun "her" is used to refer to the mother penguin, while "it" would have been a more appropriate choice if the author wanted to reinforce the penguins' animal aspects (BBC 3, 8). While the author does use the term "chick" throughout the book, mixing it with the human-like terms further allow the child reader to grasp the non-fiction elements of the book while still remaining interested and emotionally involved in the story. Evoking sadness in the reader, a photograph shows the mother walking away from her baby. Through the use of these words and illustrations, the fact that the penguins are animals living in a natural home is emphasized, while children are still engaged through the mild human-like qualities that are ascribed to the animals (BBC 3-4).
Thus, a comparison of the personification used in The Cat and the Hat and in Baby Penguins yields great differences between the two. While the personification in The Cat in the Hat is so extreme as to make the animals seem more human than the humans, the personification in Baby Penguins can be called light personification. Its presence is certainly there, suggesting that the book cannot be wholly called non-fiction. Still, it plays a relatively minor role, only ascribing certain traits to the animals, while emphasizing their differences from humans and place in the natural world. The personification used in Baby Penguins serves only to act as a bridge between the child's schema and the book's story line.
These differences in personification styles suggest a difference in children's literature from the 1950s and children's literature today. Both The Cat in the Hat and Baby Penguins are trying to teach a child a moral or lesson. In The Cat in the Hat that lesson is academic. This knowledge can be drawn not only from the fact that Seuss wrote the book as a vocabulary lesson, but also because of the personification. Making the animals like humans, Seuss creates a book that is interesting and funny to children. The cat performs all kinds of crazy antics, while speaking in rhyme and acting, most likely, the way that they wish they could act -- like children! The fish, a parental figure, gets upset with the cat and wags his fin at the cat. All in all it is such a hilarious situation that the children forget they are learning to read, spell, and learn knew words. Because it would be impossible to understand the book without looking at the illustrations, and vice versa, children learn to read quickly, gobbling down the information before the illustrations can inform them even further. Thus, both the situation that surrounded Sass's writing of the book and the personification in the book suggests that its purpose or moral is academic -- Seuss wanted children to learn how to read and to have fun doing it. Of course, another theme hides tucked away in the personification, and that is the theme of parents' and children. The banter between the fish and the cat has to do with whether or not the cat should be in the house if the mother is gone. When the cat picks up the toys and leaves without leaving a mess, however, everyone is satisfied, and Suess seems to imply that it is all right to have a little fun, even if mother does not know. Thus, these themes suggest that the children's literature of the 1950s was primarily geared at academic learning, teaching a child to read and enjoy reading to make that child a better student.
In Baby Penguins, however, the personification used suggests a much different moral. Because the penguins are only lightly personified to resemble humans, the theme or lesson of the story can be interpreted as the importance of respecting nature in its natural element. Because the type of personification in this story emphasizes the fact that the penguins are animals, not humans, but creates a bond between the humans and the animals, readers learn to appreciate the animals and nature. Thus, the theme of this story is far different than the theme in The Cat in the Hat. In Baby Penguins readers are encouraged to respect their world, not just to learn how to read and to have an appreciation for academia.
In modern children's literature, then, a component exists that does not exist in the children's literature of the 1950s. While the literature of the 1950s encouraged children to learn academic subjects and extrapolated on their role in the household, modern children's literature attempts to instill in children a sense of responsibility for making the earth a better place -- it attempts to fashion a bond between the child and nature while still emphasizing the importance of nature's sovereignty. Children, today, are taught not only to be good academicians and good children, but also to create a good future. The examination of two books on the topic of animals -- The Cat in the Hat and Baby Penguins -- in regards to personification and moral makes the case for this difference strong.
BBC. Baby Penguins. New…
Sources Used in Documents:
BBC. Baby Penguins. New York, Scholastic, 2009.
Dr. Seuss. The Cat in the Hat. New York: Random House, 1957.