It’s called ‘The Cat in the Hat’ for a reason—and not just because of the easy rhyme. The character of the FISH in Dr. Seuss’s children’s storybook for early readers is definitely not the star of the show.
Who is the much maligned and fearful FISH? Is he the conscience of the children warning them of the dangerous fun in store when the cat comes to visit? Is he a spoilsport—a killjoy, a bore? Or a classic goody-two-shoes? He’s certainly not as much fun as the cat, but he does provide a needed counterbalance to the chaotic kitty.
I was thinking about the FISH because so many of the characters in my novel-in-progress (just turned the corner on page 295 in the first draft) are CATS in hats. They are movers and shakers, disruptors and most of all, confident creatures. Because this is (or I hope it will be) a fast-paced mystery, spending too much time with characters that slow down the action and offer the voice of reason in the midst of the whirl is a danger. On the other hand, a dash of the fish’s whisper is needed to keep some semblance of realism.
Once again, I’m trying to pull off a balancing act. And the famous Cat’s juggling act is reminding me that the fearful fish is always part of the picture.