Horton Hatches an Egg

on September 16, 2010

Sighed Mayzie a lazy bird hatching an egg,
“I’m tired! I’m bored! I’ve kinks in my leg
From sitting–just sitting!–here day after day
It’s work how I hate it, I’d much rather play.
I’d take a vacation, fly off for a rest
If I could find someone to sit on my nest
If I could find someone, I’d fly away free . . . ”

. . . then Horton the Elephant passed by her tree.

HORTON HATCHES AN EGG is my favorite Dr. Seuss book. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite children’s books. That opening paragraph? I wrote it from memory (so apologies if there is a missing or wrong word.)

Last night, I read GREEN EGGS AND HAM to my youngest son, and wasn’t really surprised when my nine-year-old sat down to listen. There’s something about the rhythm and flow of Dr. Seuss which is unlike any other children’s book author. The art is cute, but it’s the words that sing and make kids smile.

HORTON HEARS A WHO is more famous than the first Horton story, but it’s Horton hatching an egg and delivering an “elephant-bird” that has stuck with me for years. In fact, when I was pregnant with my first-born I went out and bought a copy because I wanted it to be her first book.

In FEAR NO EVIL, I alluded to this book in reference to Dillon Kincaid, my hero: (p. 116)

He suspected that there was a lot more behind what had happened five years ago, and that only Kate Donovan knew the whole story.

“I thought you’d go with them.” Kate stood on the metal stairs outside her room.

“I told you I was staying.”

“Pardon me for not believing you.”

Had Kate been lied to so often she trusted no one?

“Remember the Dr. Seuss story of Horton the Elephant?”

A hint of a smile curved her lips. “And you’re Horton?”

He smiled back. “I always liked his philosophy.”

I reiterated this near the end of the book (p. 401)

Jack walked over to them. . . . “Your house is a goner.”

“I won’t need it for awhile,” Dillon said. “I’m heading out to Washington for a couple weeks.”

“You are?” Kate asked.

“I told you I’d stand by you through the hearings.”

She smiled through her tears. “You meant what you said and you said what you meant.”

Dillon nodded. “One hundred percent.”

The lessons in many of Dr. Seuss’s books are quite mature, and valuable for kids. In WHO, the lesson that kids are people too. (“A person’s a person no matter how small”) In GREEN EGGS, that looks can be deceiving. In CAT IN THE HAT, don’t let in strangers when your parents aren’t home. In EGG, Horton is not only loyal and protects the egg even when his friends laugh and tease him, even in the rain and snow and sleet, and even when he’s about to be shot by the hunters–he was brave and willing to die to protect the egg that he promised to sit on and keep warm. In the end, he got his reward when the egg hatched and looked like him.

But it also teaches another lesson–that parents have responsibilities, and protecting their kids is one of those responsibilities. Lazy Mayzie may have been having fun way down in Palm Beach, but while she was off having fun her child, in a way, grew up without her. Love and loyalty can come from anyone, even from an elephant to an egg.

And of course there was a happy ending, as the circus sent Horton and his elephant-bird home, happy, one hundred percent.

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book and why?