Ah, the difference a few years makes in the development of little kids... My niece, nephew, and I read Horton Hatches the Egg tonight, and I really had to laugh at the kids' reactions to this book.
My nephew, who is four, is, at this point in his development, a very literal, black and white kind of kid. Nuance is not his strong suit. The boy's literalism appeared again tonight after reading Horton Hatches the Egg. He said with a gasp, "Dat elephant shouldn't have turned dat egg into an elephant-bird
! Dat wasn't his egg! Birds are not elephants!" So in his eyes, Horton is an egg-snatcher, and the dastardly creator of abominations of nature, which, when you're four, and surface is everything, is pretty much what you see in this book.
Ah, but there's subtext, which, thankfully, my niece noticed! After my nephew's indignant proclamation, my niece said to him, "Well, that egg's mom was not responsible! She left
the egg! Horton took care of it--he was responsible, so it should be his egg
! If people have children, they should be responsible
, like Horton!" I had to chuckle, I really did. Horton Hatches the Egg just created all kinds debate in the car tonight!
Aside from the kick I got out of listening to the kids debate this book, I also got a lot of pleasure out of Horton Hatches the Egg. I really identified with Horton giving himself "one hundred percent" to loving, nurturing, and protecting a child, even though that child wasn't his. I loved that the reward was a loved, nurtured, and protected child, and that all of Horton's responsibiltiy, hard work and sacrifice was reflected back to him in the being of that weird (but wonderful) little "elephant-bird."