Horton Hatches the Egg is a new Oceanhouse Media application that brings a classic Dr. Seuss book to life with wonderful narration, interactive elements and sound effects.
Like the other Seuss titles in Oceanhouse’s library, this application includes the original illustrations, here adapted to work best within this interactive storybook app with the use of panning and zooming of these drawings to show detail and to draw readers' attention to different areas of this page.
Do tap around these pages as objects and characters will be labeled with words, both spoken as well as in the form of text. It is also very nice that individual words or entire paragraphs can be read or re-read with the tap of a finger, aiding new readers as does the text highlighted when read by the narrator.
Horton Hatches the Egg is the story of how kind elephant Horton is left to care for and sit on an egg's nest when it is abandoned by it's mother who is lazy and ill-equipped to care for her egg, telling Horton that she just needs a break and will be back soon. Instead, she leaves her habitat to take an extended vacation in Palm Springs. Horton is a fiercely loyal elephant who refuses to leave this nest through a difficult winter and into the spring, having to deal with the teasing from other animals as hunters who first threaten to shoot him. They instead kidnap him, tree and all, forcing him to work in the circus.
As luck would have it, the lazy bird comes to visit the circus that Horton is featured in and wants her egg back when it begins to crack, now that the hard work has been complete. Devastated, Horton agrees but does not need to turn over the baby Horton has taken such good care of as this creature that hatched from this egg turns out to be an elephant with wings.
I am always excited when I hear of a new Oceanhouse Media app based on a Dr. Seuss book. It is a very special treat to hear my favorite narrator, John Bell, work his magic as he tells this story that includes a nice level of drama and suspense that may or may not be appropriate for the youngest of family members.
Honestly, I tend to scoff when a classic piece of media, be it a story, vintage TV show or cartoon that I was raised with contains a warning that it “may not suit the needs of today's children” such as the original Sesame Street with the Alistair Cookie character smoking a pipe, Cookie Monster’s obsession with cookies, or Oscar’s surly attitude. I am, however, weary of and have avoided letting my son watch cartoons old enough that characters may be included wearing “black face.”
I do not mean to compare this story, first published in 1940, to such blatant insensitivity as black face, but I do see how some parents today may shy away from a story where hunters threaten to shoot the main character, instead kidnapping him to forcibly work in the circus, with a long journey in captivity that could conger up images of the mistreatment of animals to, at worst, slavery.
I still find this an enjoyable story with excellent narration and general production value, but not being as familiar with this story as I am the the other Seuss titles, I was taken aback by these details, as was my son who sat up from lying in bed as we watched this story for bedtime. The room got very quiet as my son followed these dramatic moments, but was unfazed by the details. Other children may or may not have the same reaction.
Parents, especially adoptive parents, also may not approve of Mayzie, the lazy and irresponsible biological mother who abandons her eggs to a stranger only to demand her egg back when the gestation period was over, accusing Horton of stealing her egg, nest and tree. Even the ending of the creature looking more elephant than bird could create mixed messages.
For these reasons, this application may be best for grade school children instead of toddlers or preschoolers who ordinarily love Dr. Seuss. I leave this for parents to decide.
Even with these issues, I am still happy that this Dr. Seuss tale has been brought to life by the developers at Oceanhouse Media, and I hope that developers will still bring the other classic Seuss tales not already adapted into applications as well, even if they may seem dark in their nature by some families who simply can choose to skip over certain titles as they see fit.
I hope the themes of loyalty, patience and faithfulness that Horton displays stand out instead of Mayzie’s bad behavior. I really hope to continue to see more of these classic Seuss tales developed into applications, preferably including narration by John Bell narrations are always perfectly realized.