Children's Book Review: Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose

in bookreview •  5 months ago


I was reading this book to my daughter last night and something about the allegorical nature of this story struck me. Dr. Seuss wrote Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose in 1948, or at least that's when it was copyrighted for the first time. The story is about (spoiler alert!) a moose that was overly-generous to the other animals in the forest, allowing them to live for free in his horns. At first it's just a "Bingle Bug" that wants to reside on Thidwick's horns, but eventually word gets around and everyone wants a free ride on Thidwick's horns. Thidwick repeats his erroneous mantra throughout the story that "...a host, above all, must be nice to his guest" obligating him to tolerate the overstayed welcome of what are now becoming pests.

It gets so bad that eventually he can't swim across a lake to get some more "moose-moss" to munch without either drowning his freeloading friends or kicking them out of his horns. So there we find Thidwick with an overburdened weight on his shoulders and on his conscience, starving to death to avoid offending his parasitic "friends." This almost gets him killed by hunters, but as Thidwick sheds his antlers at the last minute, he is saved and the other animals end up falling prey to the hunters instead. Dr. Seuss punctuates the allegory by stating that the ill-fated end of the freeloaders is as it should be.

The lesson learned is a clear admonishment of socialist policies and helps readers thread the needle between what would be considered charitable and what you're just doing out of obligation. It's clear at the end of the tale that obligatory help will end in disaster, resulting in a parasitic relationship with fatal consequences. So what's striking about this allegory is that Seuss was a well-established leftist who even participated in overt political campaigning against Richard Nixon, and even injected progressive themes into his stories.

So my question about this revelation is: When did the left forget about this allegory? When did they forget that when you literally force people to work for the benefit of others through socialist government programs, you inevitably end up with disastrous and fatal consequences? Why can't they have their progressive preferences and ideals while working towards them through voluntary engagement? Why has the left allowed themselves to become so illiberally hostile to freedom, an ideal that they were responsible for ushering in to society in the first place?

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