Book Review: Horton Hatches the Egg
My good friend HK was adopted and she is the favorite aunt to six nieces and nephews – three of whom are adopted. She recommended that I read BE and BC “Horton Hatches the Egg” by Dr. Seuss. I ordered it from Amazon and we got it in the mail this week. I can’t remember ever reading this book as a kid, so for those of us who need a reminder, here’s the premise.
Mayzie the bird lays an egg, but gets tired of sitting on it. She enlists help from Horton the elephant so that she can go on vacation. She promises to be gone a short time, but once she gets to her destination, she decides to stay there. Meanwhile, Horton spends 51 weeks sitting on the egg and endures all kinds of hardships. At the end of the book, the egg hatches and the baby turns out to be half bird and half elephant. And Horton gets to keep it.
The main thing I like about this book is that baby is half elephant and half bird. I really want to believe that children are influenced by both nature and nurture. I want to believe that my children will be like their first parents, but also like me and J. The baby in this book reflects that both birth parents and adoptive parents have a role to play.
However, I have one major issue with the book. As any adoptive parent knows – one big “no-no” is criticizing the birth parents, no matter what they may have done. Here are some examples of how Dr. Seuss describes Mayzie.
- “A lazy bird”
- “Old good-for-nothing bird”
- “Runaway Mayzie”
- “Still just as lazy”
- “‘But it’s mine!’ screamed the bird when she heard the egg crack. The work was all done. She wanted it back.”
I am an adoptive parent living in Detroit with my family. I am the author of the forthcoming speculative fiction book, Antebellum Age is now available through Barnes & Noble.
Category: Speculative Fiction, Alternate History
Nothing could suppress the utopian ambitions of Eliza and Thomas Young – nothing except for 150 years of authoritarian, racist rule. Generations after the Young’s experiment, Ambassadors Stephen Harris and Sarah Anderson uncover the Young story; finding meaning and connection in unlikely places. Now they must choose between dismantling generations of segregation or fulfilling the expectations of their society.
19 thoughts on “Dr. Seuss: adoption rule breaker”
I loved that story when I was a kid. But when I read it to my kids a few years ago, I was struck by the same parts you mention.
I wonder if Seuss had any adoption focus in his life that colored his plot line, or if his story just needed a typical hero and villain.
I’m not sure I’d point my kids toward it now, now that they’d understand and internalize more.
I’m glad it’s not just me!
Hmmm…when I first read the part in your review about the baby being born half elephant, I was super excited to get the book and read it to my kids. Good thing you wrote about the rest though because that is not a book I will be reading to my munchkins!!! Back in the day that Dr. Seuss wrote it, “positive adoption language” probably wasn’t on his radar!
Thanks for the review!
I know, I couldn’t believe it!