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Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss
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Horton Hatches the Egg (1940)

by Dr. Seuss

Series: Horton (1)

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"Horton Hatches the Egg", written by Dr. Seuss, is a wonderful book that uses a humorous, over the top story line to teach readers very valuable lessons. The lessons I found in this book were staying trustworthy and true to your word even if the other person is not doing the same, and having perseverance, especially when things are difficult, will pay off in the end. To convey these lessons, Dr. Seuss uses literary tools such as rhyming, repetition, text style, and plot. This story is about an elephant named Horton. When Horton is asked to sit on Mayzie’s bird nest while she goes on a “short” vacation, he agrees. Throughout the story, Horton is faced with various difficulties, but never stops protecting the bird nest.
Throughout the story, Horton is perched on top of the bird nest, determined to protect the baby bird until Mayzie returns from her “short” vacation. Shortly after the story begins, Horton realizes that Mayzie probably isn’t coming back, but he never leaves his post on top of the tree. Dr. Seuss uses repetition throughout the story to emphasize Horton’s perseverance to protect the bird and remain trustworthy. For example, when Horton is faced with a difficult situation, such as his friends teasing him for being in a tree, or hunter’s taking him overseas to sell him to a curious, Horton always replies with the same quote. The quote, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant…an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!” which is repeated by Horton, gives the reader a sense of Horton’s character. This repetition emphasizes Horton’s perseverance to keep faithful to his word and remain trustworthy even though he knows Mayzie is not doing the same.
Along with the use of repetition, the author engages the reader by using rhyme throughout the story. On each page, the text and dialogue is written in a rhyming format that makes this book easy to read and gives it a nice pace and form. Within this rhyming structure, Dr. Seuss uses different text styles to emphasize different parts of the story, which also contribute to the flow of the book. For example, when Horton’s egg is finally hatched, the text reads, “They looked! And they stared with their eyes popping out! Then they cheered and they cheered(italics) and they CHEERED more and more. They’d never seen anything like it before(italics)! ‘My goodness! My gracious(italics)!’ they shouted. ‘MY WORD! It’s something brand new(italics)! IT’S AN ELEPHANT-BIRD!!’” The author’s use of text styles such as capitalization and italics emphasizes the story, allowing the reader to be fully engaged. These literary elements directly correlate to the author’s message that one should stay trustworthy and true to their word and that perseverance will pay off in the end.
Horton’s character endures terrible weather, teasing from his friends, a treacherous journey overseas, and much more in order to keep his word and the baby bird safe. For fifty-one weeks, Horton never left the bird nest, while Mayzie was off in Palm Beach being lazy and turning back on her word to return to Horton shortly. When Horton is in the circus and arrives in a city near Mayzie, the bird begins to hatch. At that moment, the author creates conflict by Mayzie wanting to have her baby bird even though she abandoned it and never planned to return. Although she had done none of the work to care for the bird, Horton obliges and returns the egg. At this point, the author uses Horton’s mood to cause the reader to sympathize with Horton. For example, when Mayzie yells that the egg belongs to her, the text shows Horton’s disappointment through the quote, “Poor Horton backed down with a sad, heavy heart…” When the reader begins to sympathize with Horton’s character and feels that the egg should be his, the author quickly twists the story! After all of Horton’s hard work and perseverance, the author creates a happy ending through literary elements. For example, in the quote, “For the egg that he’d sat on so long and so well, Horton the Elephant saw something whizz(italics)! IT HAD EARS AND A TAIL AND A TRUNK JUST LIKE HIS,” the author uses text elements to emphasize the joy and excitement that Horton feels while conveying the message that perseverance, especially when things are difficult, pays of in the end. Horton and his baby bird are sent back to home, “Happy, one hundred percent!”
The literary elements such as repetition, text style, rhyming, and plot bring Horton’s story to life in an over the top adventure that is easy to read and follow along with. Through Horton’s journey, the author provides the reader with two very essential lessons. First, one should always be trustworthy and true to his/her word even when someone else isn’t. Also, that perseverance, especially through difficult times, will pay off in the end. Overall, I believe this is a fantastic story that I have loved since childhood and that teaches the reader two extremely important lessons.

**Quotes from the book that are meant to be italicized are indicated by (italics) after the quote. ( )
  heathergoodman | Mar 2, 2015 |
Mayzie the bird just wants some time off from sitting on her nest when she spies Horton the elephant walking along and manages to persuade him into sitting on her egg for her. Once off on vacation, however, Mayzie decides she doesn't want to go back to her cramped conditions. Meanwhile, Horton weathers (literally and figuratively) through his egg-sitting chore through the seasons, despite jests and threats of harm, reminding himself and others that an elephant is always 100 percent faithful.

This is one of Dr. Seuss's earliest books for children and already evidence is there of all the Seuss characteristics to come. His prose is not quite as silly as some later books (i.e., nonsense words aren't really a thing in this title), but his rapid-paced rhyming schemes with repeating refrains are utilized in this book. His distinct style of illustration, with animals that are more Seussical than realistic, is also already on display. I really enjoyed how the illustrations made use of a limited palette (grays, reds, and a turquoise color) and yet they are still entirely engaging.

Without being overwhelming, this book presents a message about the virtues of certain character traits like responsibility, perseverance, trustworthiness, and endurance. These are great ideals for young children to be exposed to, even if it's a more subconscious way than not. Still, this book could open up conversations with little ones about why it's so important that Horton has these characteristics (and why it's equally important for they themselves to become people of character).

Meanwhile, the story takes so many twists and turns that young readers/listeners are completely captivated throughout its telling. While it's not my favorite Dr. Seuss book of all time (probably in part because I didn't read this one as a kid myself), it's still a good book to share with the young ones in your life. ( )
1 vote sweetiegherkin | Jan 5, 2015 |
A cute children's book with a happy ending.

Why must people criticize a children's book with a lazy mother?
If you don't like the book go find another! ( )
  Kathryn_Brown | Dec 1, 2014 |
Fantastic book for kids! So imaginative and creative. Easy read that children will find delightful!

Dr. Seuss is always brilliant! His stories and rhymes are fun and entertaining! Some of my all time favorites!! Such a great way to entertain children and get them interested in reading! ( )
  grapeapril75 | Oct 18, 2014 |
Had the pleasure of finding a treasure trove of old Dr. Seuss books in great condition at an estate sale. "Horton Hatches the Egg" is a surprisingly mature and suspenseful tale of the ever-faithful Horton, who is talked into sitting on the lazy Mayzie bird's egg while she takes a break, and decides to extend it indefinitely. The one-hundred percent faithful Horton stands his post through all manner of weather, embarrassment and danger. I'd forgotten how good some of Dr. Seuss' books were. I don't remember reading this as a child, but if I did, it would have totally enthralled me. ( )
  burnit99 | Aug 14, 2014 |
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Sighed Mayzie, a lazy bird hatching an egg: "I'm tired and I'm bored and I've kinks in my leg from sitting, just sitting here day after day."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 039480077X, Hardcover)

Poor Horton. Dr. Seuss's kindly elephant is persuaded to sit on an egg while its mother, the good-for-nothing bird lazy Maysie, takes a break. Little does Horton know that Maysie is setting off for a permanent vacation in Palm Springs. He waits, and waits, never leaving his precarious branch, even through a freezing winter and a spring that's punctuated by the insults of his friends. ("They taunted. They teased him. They yelled 'How Absurd! Old Horton the Elephant thinks he's a bird!'") Further indignities await, but Horton has the patience of Job--from whose story this one clearly derives--and he is rewarded in the end by the surprise birth of... an elephant-bird. Horton Hatches the Egg contains some of Theodor Geisel's most inspired verse and some of his best-ever illustrations, the dated style of which only accentuates their power and charm. A book no childhood should be without. (Ages 2 to 7) --Richard Farr

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:31 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When a lazy bird hatching an egg wants a vacation, she asks Horton, the elephant, to sit on her egg--which he does through all sorts of hazards until he is rewarded for doing what he said he would.

» see all 6 descriptions

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