Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose
by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss's Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 4-8

Dr. Seuss and the welfare state!

There's a moose living on the shore of Lake Winna-Bango, and the case could be made that he's a bit of a sap.

A Bingle Bug wants a free ride on his horns but shows no signs of leaving. A tree-spider moves in as well, his web indicating he has no intention of leaving this rent-free ride.

Then a Zinn-a-zu Bird. Then the Zinn-a-zu Bird gets married. Then the new wife moves her uncle in!

It's interesting that Seuss wrote Thidwick about halfway between his two Horton books. (Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears a Who.)

Horton has just as big a heart as Thidwick, probably even bigger. But Horton is confronted always with helplessness - in one case an egg that needs protecting, in another a bunch of tiny beings whose very world is at risk.

Thidwick, on the other hand, is faced with the able-bodied but indolent. While both Thidwick and Horton are taken advantage of - the egg's mother, Mayzie, is a piece of work - Horton has innocents to concern himself with.

Thidwick simply gets played for a fool again and again. Before it's all over, he has a zoo living between his horns, including a sour-faced bear who looks as if the world owes him a living.

Both the elephant and the moose face hunters. Both face the contempt of their peers. But Seuss makes it clear that Thidwick is a sap, while Horton is a saint. Seuss seems to be saying that personal growth can include hardening one's heart to the undeserving.

Seuss even goes so far as to make this story about life and death. The big lug of a moose faces starvation as the menagerie atop his skull keeps him from following his peers to new feeding grounds.

In the end, this big-hearted moose is saved from his over-generous tendencies by the fact that moose shed their horns, and Thidwick's shedding is particularly timely. The trophy-hunters grab the horns anyway, for display, killing and stuffing all the lazy animals residing atop them to boot. And the big moose seems to learn his lesson.

To think, some people think Seuss never got political! (Review continues.)

Thidwick, libertarian, welfare state

Naturally, some people with hard-hearted agendas have used this book to push their ideologies, insisting that clearly Seuss was with them politically. If they make that case without also speaking to Horton, it's this reviewer's opinion that they're speaking without intellectual honesty.

Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose is a sweet tale of a creature with the best of intentions who learns that some folks will take advantage. And really, it doesn't have to go any deeper than that.

Complete Dr. Seuss book list.

Read more of Steve's reviews.

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