At Barnes & Noble Kahala, Barbara Gum reads "The Cat in the Hat" to children who gather for a storytelling session in advance of next week's film opening.

Aboard the
Cat bandwagon

A movie based on the Dr. Seuss
classic generates gift spinoffs
and literacy programs galore


'Cat in the Hat'


Where: State Library main branch, 478 S. King St.
When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday
Admission: Free
Call: 586-3500

Tea party

Where: Kahala Mandarin Oriental
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Admission: $25 (children under 2 free), which includes a goodie bag for each paying child. Proceeds will benefit the national First Book organization.
Call: 739-8890; reservations required

With the release of "The Cat in the Hat" to theaters next week, expect Cat in the Hat-related products to fill store shelves over the next two months. If you hadn't noticed, Cat in the Hat plush toys, sleeping bags, watch sets, dinnerware sets and video games are already out. The film is a merchandiser's pre-Christmas dream.

Yet, not all the hoopla surrounding the well-loved Dr. Seuss children's book is profit-driven. In fact, this weekend's Dr. Seuss story-time event at the main branch of the Hawaii Public Library System on King Street is as laudable an undertaking as you'll find all holiday season.

In an effort to promote reading among Hawaii's keiki, the public libraries have organized contests for movie passes and Cat in the Hat-related prizes to coincide with the big-screen release of the Dr. Seuss classic. The state library system's main branch has secured commitments from Gov. Linda Lingle and comedian Andy Bumatai to be guest readers for a special event beginning at 10:30 Saturday morning. The reading will be followed by a kids' craft session, complete with make-your-own Cat in the Hat product activities and refreshments.

"I have a soft spot for reading," Bumatai said earlier this week. "I'm doing it primarily as a way to support reading among children and the state library system. My wife (Sherry) is very active in the HIDA, the Hawaii International Dyslexia Association. What she does is she goes to the elementary schools and helps identify reading problems at the second and third grades so that they can address these problems early."

Dyslexia, says Bumatai, is an often misunderstood learning disability that affects millions of Americans. It hampers one's ability to process language-based information, making reading, writing and spelling difficult. It's a problem Bumatai says he's struggled with all his life.

"When I was going to school, they didn't recognize it as anything," he said. In his 1979 television special, "Andy Bumatai's High School Daze," Bumatai made reference to his classroom frustrations, which few knew were brought on, in part, by dyslexia. "There's that part where I came up to the drive-in and said, 'I remember all those things teachers used to write on my report card: "Andy talks out of turn and disturbs the class. If only he would work to his complete potential."'

"It's funny, because that's the type of thing dyslexics always get, when actually what it is is you're just fighting the process.

"You get better at it," he adds. "I don't have any problem reading, but my handwriting sucks and I can't spell to save my life. But I'm certainly creative. I do things differently. I even taught myself to type well."

At Barnes & Noble Kahala Mall, Sophia Krivatsy, 5, shows a "The Cat in the Hat" poster given to children who attended the readings. Her grandmother, Valerie Fradelos is holding a headband she made earlier.

He said the way to identify dyslexia is to encourage young people to read early, "and that's why I'm supporting this."

From 2 to 3:30 p.m. the same day, the Kahala Mandarin Hotel will present a "Cat in the Hat" tea party, featuring readings by radio personality Tom Moffatt, accompanied by such Seuss-inspired fare as green eggs and ham; "One Fish, Two Fish" tuna fish sandwiches; chocolate chip flip cookies; Sneetches' scones; ding dang doo sundaes; and doodle delight fruit punch, prepared by executive chef Wayne Hirabayashi.

Charged with the weighty task of bringing Dr. Seuss's imaginary culinary creations to edible form, Hirabayashi hopes his recent experimentation in the kitchen will be well received by the kids.

"We tried using green food coloring for the eggs, and it came out a fluorescent green, kind of like the color of the Hulk," he says. "It'll catch everyone's eye.

"It's actually fun coming up with these things," the chef said, before expelling a hearty chuckle. "These kids are gonna be wired."

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