|The Bartholomew Books by Dr. Seuss: The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins (1938) and Bartholomew and the Oobleck (1949). Random House.|
Yesterday, March 2nd, was Read Across America, also known as Dr. Seuss's Birthday! Gone are the days when I worked at a bookstore, where I received a special activity kit every year to be used at storytimes. Sometimes, the girls do something special at school. Little Sis tells me that some fifth graders came to her second grade classroom, where they read some books and handed out bookmarks.
Big Sis is in fourth grade, and I don't think they did anything special this year, but last year, her class made Oobleck.
I never read the Bartholomew Cubbins books as a kid. I didn't read them until 8 or 9 years ago, when I checked out all the lesser known (to me, at least) Dr. Seuss books I could find. Unlike his more popular titles, the Bartholomew books do not rhyme. They are lengthy and weird in their own way, and better suited for children with long attention spans. In The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, Bartholomew is ordered to remove his hat as the king passes by in his carriage. He does so, but another hat mysteriously appears in its place. This is only the beginning. More and more hats appear, until the king buys the 500th hat. It's almost creepy, which may be why I like it. The second Bartholomew book arrived eleven years later. In Bartholomew and the Oobleck, the king becomes bored with predictable weather. Snow, rain, fog, sun... how monotonous. He summons his Royal Magicians, and orders them to create something new to fall from the sky. The result is Oobleck, a mysterious, sticky green substance that wreaks havoc on the kingdom. The king comes to regret his wish, and calls for the magicians. Bartholomew informs him that the magicians are trapped in their cave, so the king tries to use their magic words to stop the Oobleck. When it doesn't work, Bartholomew finally lets loose on the king, telling him to try saying "I'm sorry" instead. Lesson learned.
There are many Oobleck recipes to be found, but the simplest is this: one part water to one-and-a-half to two parts cornstarch. Green food coloring is optional. I decided it was easier to color the water first, then add the cornstarch.
We started with one cup of water and some green food coloring, then added one-and-a-half cups of cornstarch. Big Sis helped me stir, since she was our resident Oobleck expert. We could feel the liquid start to thicken, as the cornstarch solid took shape in the bottom of the bowl. From there, we added another quarter cup of cornstarch, stirred, then added one last quarter cup.
Both girls had a ball squishing the weird mix between their fingers. We only had about 45 minutes after school, before Big Sis had to go to her Wednesday dance classes, but this simple science experiment was perfect for an after-school chillout activity.
Little Sis couldn't stop playing with the stuff. "It feels like ectoplasm!" she announced. "It's ghost goo."
Later, she told me it was yucky and she didn't like it. "But it's fun to play with!" she laughed.
After it sits for a while, it becomes more of a solid. We saved it in a Ziploc freezer bag for later.
To see last year's Dr. Seuss's birthday post, go here. I also hit up Dr. Seuss for Earth Day last year. I also have a Dr. Seuss Love pinboard, as well as one devoted to the Grinch.
I'll leave you with the 1943 film short The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, featuring George Pal's Puppetoons.