Thursday, July 22, 2010

Horton Hears a Who: Book to Film #3

Author: Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel)
Illustrator: Dr. Seuss
Year Published: 1954
Publisher: Random House
Awards: N/A

What did you like/dislike about the book?
Dr. Seuss' book, Horton Hears a Who, is a tale of Horton, an elephant, who discovers Who-ville on a small speck of dust.  He tries to protect the small town, but others around him don't believe there is anyone there.  Horton must try to convince the others that the Whos exist.

I had never read this book before and was not disappointed by this edition of Seuss' magic.  The book is told in AABBCCDD rhyme form, as all great Seuss books are.  The inclusion of the Whos, who many have met in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, was not expected.  

Upon research, I was surprised to find hidden meanings behind this book.  Several pro-life groups have insinuated that the phrase "A person's a person no matter how small" relates to the abortion debate.  Geisel, himself, disapproved of the politicizing of his titles and threatened to sue anyone using his books for political purposes.  Horton Hears a Who was meant to be a metaphor for post-World War 2 relations between America and Japan.  

This book is appropriate for all ages of readers, although younger readers will have a harder time reading the text due to larger vocabulary words.  It can be used to discuss helping others, believing in others, and rhyme scheme.

Movie TitleHorton Hears a Who!
Director: Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino
Year Produced: 2008
Starring: Jim Carrey, Steve Carrell, Carol Burnett 
Awards: N/A

What did you like/dislike about the movie?
This movie follows the same plot as the book version.  It introduces several new characters, such as Vlad the bird and Jojo, the mayor's son.  Some phrasing from the book is used, but most dialogue is unique to the movie.  The movie seemed to run a little long and I can see younger children becoming bored with it.  I didn't see the need for the anime sections or for the side plot about Vlad the bird.

This movie is rated G and is appropriate for viewers of all ages.  Other Dr. Seuss titles made into feature films are The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

How do the book and movie versions of this title compare?
Overall, this is a very worthy cinematic adaptation of a classic children's book.  With the addition of new characters and dialogue, the movie is not a perfect match to the book.  However, the general plot is the same.  Of all the book to film titles I have reviewed, this one matches the closest to the original title.

I would recommend the book version, but the movie has wonderful cinematic elements.  

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