Horton Hears WHO?
Horton is the famous elephant created by Dr. Seuss, the children's writer. I have long been a fan of Dr. Seuss, for his silly verses and his amazing and silly drawings.
My very first Dr. Seuss book was probably one of his first books, but I don't remember for sure. The first book I remember clearly was Green Eggs and Ham. At the time we acquired that book, my mother was giving me my semi-annual hair permanent, something I always hated and endured strictly out of obedience to her as my mother. Here I was sitting, enduring the boredom of waiting for a couple of hours while she wrapped each strand of my hair around a curler, and breathing the toxic fumes of the permanent chemicals. And then, suddenly, it dawned on me I should read this book, right here and now. So I picked it up and started reading. We never laughed so hard in all our lives! It definitely made that particular permanent a memorable occasion. That also marked the beginning of my fandom for Dr. Seuss.
The story in Horton is about this elephant named Horton, who one day hears a faint shout from the tiny community of Whoville. Whoville contains human-like creatures that are smaller than a virus, and far smaller than a human unborn baby! In order to make themselves heard, they must all unite and shout at the same time, with all the devices they can get. Their community is facing a threat, and only Horton can help them.
The nice thing about Dr. Seuss, in my opinion, is the multiple levels of meaning, and the lessons a child will get from these books. This particular book is one of my favorites because it conveys a clear message that every human being, no matter how small, matters, has value, and deserves protection. I am quite sure that Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss' name in real life) wasn't trying to preach a message against abortion. He just felt that tiny people (children, people who lack political power, or anyone else who is unable to defend himself against bullies) should be accorded human status and treated accordingly. Powerless people have important messages to share. Even though the message probably wasn't intended to be against abortion as such, it still applies. Unborn children are very small, totally helpless, cannot even shout as loud as the Whos, and their lives matter. They matter to God, and to me, and to many other people.
Another important lesson to be learned is the idea of faithfulness, keeping promises, etc. The famous line he uses to convey this message is, "An elephant's faithful 100%." Children (and adults) need to learn the importance of keeping their promises, and taking promises seriously. One should never make a promise one doesn't intend to keep. The story emphasizes how difficult it was for Horton to keep his promise, but he persevered. Dr. Seuss conjures up numerous scenarios where Horton is being harassed by one thing or another. Dogged determination is the order of the day.
Dr. Seuss is an excellent source of valuable lessons, told in a winsome and entertaining way. Many of the books are also suitable for children to read for themselves.
Horton Hears a Who is one of the earlier books, but remains a timeless classic.
Background image from Two Men and a Little Farm blog. Thank you!