Imagine yourself in a lush jungle filled with creatures of all sorts. Then ahead in a clearing what do you see? No it can't be...or can it? Upon a tiny fainting tree of some tropical sort, is an elephant, of all creatures! The elephant looks ludicrously large perched atop a nest of one egg. The elephant as would be expected, endures the taunting of other jungle creatures and even blinding winter blizzards in order to protect the little egg in its nest. Finally, however,our tree-perching friend is rewarded when the egg that he babysat for "only a little while," hatches into a little elephant-bird!
The above description is about Horton the elephant who would not leave the egg he was asked to babysit even though it brought him misery at times. In the end, it is all worth the trouble because the egg hatches into not just the expected bird, but rather an elephant-bird! In my eyes Norton is a hero. He is loyal, patient, loving and determined. Dr.Seuss, who wrote about Horton, is a hero as well, but it is through Seuss' characters that Seuss delivers his messages.
Like a number of Dr.Seuss books, this one contains an important message for both children and adults. In his own delightful quirky way, Seuss gives the message that heroes cannot be stereotyped. A hero isn't just someone out to save the day, a hero can be someone with an enduring moral obligation like Horton, who didn't set out to become a hero but becomes one anyway by his loyalty, determination, and patience.
I have been concentrating more on Seuss' character Horton than on Seuss himself. Although it's true that Horton is a hero in his own book, it is Seuss who's the brain behind the messages in his works and books, making him the true hero. Seuss has influenced both children and adults and has encouraged them to become better, more creative people. In his book The Lorax, Seuss tells a tale of the peaceful Truffula forest destroyed by the careless and environmentally unaware Once-ler. It is up to the Lorax, a cute furry creature, to speak for the remaining Truffula trees. The Lorax speaks wisely about the environment, but to no avail.
Finally, the Lorax leaves the earth: All that is left of his existence is a rock with the word "unless" graved upon it. "Unless someone cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not" (Knapp, 1998). Luckily there is one more Truffula seed left, and its meaning is the outcome of our environment rests in our hands. I liked this book. It demonstrated to me that his books could convey all types of messages from "save the environment to "heroes come in all shapes, sizes and forms." Although just about any author can deliver messages through words, Seuss did this in a unique way. He uses made-up creatures, wacky pictures, and clever rhyme and repetition to guide the reader through the text, which makes it an over all fun experience to read his children's books.
You're probably wondering that if the readers of Dr.Seuss' books liked them so much, how did his fellow writers embrace him? Has he influenced the professional world of writing at all. Yes. Seuss won the Pulitzer prize in 1984 and two academy Awards. Also, other authors and publishers have tried to imitate his work and that is one of the best forms of flattery.
I see his recognition as a very good thing, but it's his influence on others that makes him a hero to me. According to MacDonald, when Seuss and Random House began making books together, such as Cat in the Hat together, good quality, inexpensive beginner books finally became available! Other publishing companies followed this precedent and it resulted in series such as Frog and Toad and the Berenstain Bears (1988). If Seuss hadn't started making his beginner reading books available, children might very well have continued to snooze through reading class and the illiteracy rate might have continued to climb in the U.S. Seuss' use of phonics incorporated in silly, simple worded stories kept children interested in and focus on reading. Although Cat in the Hat contained only 220 basic words, its eye teasing drawings and fanciful rhymes delighted all who read it. Who would've guessed that an oversized cat with a candy cane top hat could've brought about so much change in the world of Literature?
Although we often envision heroes loving whatever they do, it is certainly not always the case. Seuss,however, loved what he did and he loved the children he wrote for. He saw kids as a tough audience looking for sincerity in what he wrote, because, he said "You can fool an adult...but a kid can tell if you're faking immediately" (Grolier, 1998). He loved what he did because even in his college textbooks there are doodles and cartoons instead of notes in the margins. And when he was in high school he was banished from the school magazine supposedly for being found drinking, but he kept contributing under pseudonyms!
Dr. Seuss was even a pseudonym. This remarkably talented artist/author was really named Theodor Seuss Geisel. He added "Dr" to his mother's maiden name because his father had always wanted a doctor in the family. His father was a big influence on Seuss to make something of himself.
Page created on 2/23/2010 12:09:30 PM
Last edited 2/23/2010 12:09:30 PM