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 2000 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.