Book of a Lifetime: Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr Seuss

From The Independent archive: Rick Gekoski on ‘Horton Hatches the Egg’ by Dr Seuss

Friday 26 November 2021 21:30
Comments
<p>Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr Seuss, whose characters are wonderfully crazy embodiments of the lawlessness and egotism of childhood</p>

Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr Seuss, whose characters are wonderfully crazy embodiments of the lawlessness and egotism of childhood

I like things big. I adore Palladian villas, monumental Mark Rothkos, vases of gladioli, eagles, 16-ounce T-bone steaks. I can grasp the attractiveness of cottages, Indian miniatures, lilies of the valley, guinea pigs, and roast quail. But it seems to me that, with a little more effort, any of these might make more of itself. This predisposition to the outsized is typically American, but in me it is also caused by early exposure to that admirable pachyderm, Dr Seuss’s Horton the Elephant. At four, I adored Horton Hatches the Egg, one of the lesser known Seuss books, but my favourite by far.

I wonder, all these years later, whether I didn’t have, at that time, some obscure recognition that this particular story applied to me? The poem concerns a charming but flighty bird called Mayzie who, bored by the longueurs of egg-sitting, wishes instead to go on an extended holiday to Palm Beach. She flirtatiously prevails upon the kindly elephant Horton to take her place up in the tiny tree, in spite of his considerable misgivings. “Why of all silly things!/ I haven’t got feathers and I haven’t wings./ ME on your egg? Why, that doesn’t make sense.../ Your egg is so small, ma’am, and I’m so immense!” Horton was the perfect embodiment of my father – loving, totally dependable – while my mother was a Mayzie through and through, loved a fag and a drink, was the life of any party.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in