Horton Hatches the Egg
Horton Hatches the Egg Author(s) Dr. Seuss Country United States Language English Publisher Random House Publication date 1940 (renewed 1968) Media type OCLC Number 189245 Preceded by The Seven Lady Godivas Followed by McElligot's Pool
Horton Hatches the Egg is a children's book by Dr. Seuss, first published in 1940. The character Horton appeared again in Horton Hears a Who!, published in 1954. These two books later provided the thrust of the plot in 2003 for the Broadway musical Seussical.
The book concerns an elephant named Horton, who is convinced by Mayzie (a lazy, irresponsible bird) to sit on her egg while she takes a short "break", which in actuality ends up being Mayzie's permanent relocation to Palm Beach.
Naturally, the absurd sight of an elephant sitting atop a tree makes quite a scene – Horton is exposed to the elements, laughed at by his jungle friends, captured by hunters, forced to endure a terrible sea voyage, and finally placed in a traveling circus. However, despite his hardships and Mayzie's clear intent not to return, Horton refuses to leave the nest through all of these, because he insists on keeping his word ("I meant what I said and I said what I meant, And an elephant's faithful, one hundred per cent!")
The traveling circus ends up visiting near Mayzie's new Palm Beach residence; she returns to the circus once the egg is due to hatch, and demands its return without offering any reward for Horton. However, when the egg hatches, the creature that emerges is an "elephant-bird" cross between Horton and Mayzie, and Horton and the baby are returned happily to the jungle, rewarding Horton for his persistence, while Mayzie is punished for her laziness by ending up with nothing.
The broadway musical Seussical centers largely around Horton the Elephant, as his attempt to protect the Whos on their dust speck is de-railed by many factors, including the animal obstacles presented in Horton Hears a Who! and, Mayzie la Bird's irresponsible parenting of her egg, which she eventually entrusts to Horton. They encounter each other at the circus in the second act, in which Mayzie gives Horton full custody of her egg. In the finale of the musical, Horton's egg hatches into an elephant bird.
Merrie Melodies adaptation
Horton Hatches the Egg was adapted into a ten-minute animated short film by Leon Schlesinger Productions in 1942, released as part of Warner Bros.' Merrie Melodies series. The short was directed by Bob Clampett. Horton was voiced by Kent Rogers along with the Peter Lorre fish, Sara Berner voiced Mayzie and the elephant bird, Robert C. Bruce narrated, and Mel Blanc performed most of the other voices.
In producing the cartoon, Clampett's unit did not use a storyboard, as was the customary practice; instead, they sketched and wrote additional ideas for the cartoon in Clampett's copy of Seuss' book (there is no story credit for this cartoon's original credits). Several elements not in the original book were added to the cartoon, including;
- An introductory paragraph, starting with "Now once in a jungle . . ." and ending with " . . . up in her tree."
- Several areas of skipped or re-invented dialogue, such as when Mayzie claims to have bags under her eyes, or when Horton speaks, "Plain as day" to the hunters, who only have one gun, which is clearly not aimed at his heart.
- A fish caricature of Peter Lorre who shoots himself in the head after seeing Horton on the boat (This scene is often edited from most televised prints),
- A breathy Katharine Hepburn impersonation by Mayzie, and
- A popular nonsense tune of that era, "The Hut-Sut Song" by Horace Heidt - Words and music by Leo V. Killion, Ted McMichael & Jack Owens, sung by Horton and his son, with the words "and so on so on so forth" replacing some of the lyrics.
In 1966, Soyuzmultfilm released an 18-minute Russian film adaptation called I Am Waiting for a Nestling. It was directed by Nikolai Serebryakov and won the Silver Medal for Best Children's Film at Tours in 1967.
Random House Video
In 1992, Random House released "Horton Hatches the Egg" in their series of Dr. Seuss videos, narrated by Billy Crystal and directed by Mark Reeder. The video is in the same style as all of the other Random House / Dr. Seuss videos. "If I Ran the Circus" is second in the double feature video. imdb.com
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