In celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2.
Thanks to my fifth grade teacher, I learned to memorize the required weekly poem. Thus, when my freshman drama teacher handed me a copy of Horton Hatches the Egg, it was easy to memorize the story. In high school, I competed in speech contests with Horton, and he became so ingrained in me that I continued my performances for the last 59 years. By my unembellished, estimates, I’ve performed for over 7,000 children in Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, and Arizona and relished every minute. Further, I truly enjoyed the Q and A afterwards, where they ask me about the character voices, the plot, and random things, like ‘can you come to my birthday party.’
COVID ended my in-school student performances, but I was prepared to offer them again three weeks ago. I’d drafted the email to local elementary teachers announcing my availability. Then reality set in. The far right has vilified Dr. Seuss. His books have been stripped from teachers’ shelves and from school libraries. The result of my performance in the second grade could very well ignite a maelstrom. After all, Horton is a guy elephant, who sits on a runaway mother’s egg until it hatches. The result is an elephant bird! Oh, ye gods! Talk about controversy. Certainly, an LGBTQ book, a pro-evolution book, a book that celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion. Oh, not to mention values, like fidelity and honesty.
Quite frankly, I embrace my woke label, which simply means I AM awake, and I AM paying attention. Yet, in contrast, I regret I no longer perform Horton for children. It’s not about me; I could care less about me. But I would never want to bring undue criticism to a teacher, an elementary school, a school district, nor to a public school board meeting.
Now, Alice talked about curiouser and curioser, but I prefer weirder and weirder. With all of the problems in our world, the last thing we should be worried about is Dr. Seuss!