The Menstuff® library lists pertinent books about and for children. See also books on fathers & daughters, fathers & sons, mothers & daughters, mothers & sons and Issues on fathers & daughters, fathers-general, fathers-stories, incest/molestation. Photo in upper left corner by Michelle Borge. "They learn so young."
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The book tells the story of Horton the Elephant who, on the fifteenth of May in the Jungle of Nool, hears a small speck of dust talking to him. It turns out the speck of dust is actually a tiny planet, home to a city called "Whoville", inhabited by microscopic-sized inhabitants known as Whos. See the Movie Teasor Trailer , the Movie Trailer and the Movie Review.
The Whos ask Horton (who, though he cannot see them, is able to hear them quite well) to protect them from harm, to which Horton happily obliges, proclaiming throughout the book that "a person's a person, no matter how small". In doing so he is ridiculed and forced into a cage by the other animals in the jungle for believing in something that they are unable to see or hear. His chief tormentors are Vlad Vladikoff, the Wickersham Brothers and the Sour Kangaroo, and the small kangaroo in her pouch. Horton tells the Whos that they need to make themselves heard to the other animals, lest they end up as part of "beezlenut stew", which they finally accomplish. The Whos finally make themselves heard by ensuring that all members of their society play their part. In the end it is a "very small shirker named Jo-Jo" whose final addition to the volume creates enough lift for the jungle to hear the sound, thus reinforcing the moral of "a person's a person no matter how small."
Now convinced of the Whos' existence, Horton's neighbors vow to help him protect the tiny community.
The book was published in August 1954, two months after the climax of the Army-McCarthy hearings. The comments of the Wickersham Brothers seem to come from Joseph McCarthy.
Use in the United States abortion debate
The book (most notably Horton the Elephant's recurring phrase "a person's a person, no matter how small") has found its way to the center of the recurring debate, in the United States, over abortion. Several pro-life groups have adopted the phrase in support of their views. Such appropriations are frowned upon by Dr. Seuss' widow, Audrey Geisel, who "doesn't like people to hijack Dr. Seuss characters or material to front their own points of view." According to Philip Nel, who wrote a biography about Geisel/Seuss, Seuss threatened to sue a pro-life group for using his words on their stationery.
Adaptations in other media
Horton Hears a Who! was adapted into a half-hour animated TV special by MGM Animation/Visual Arts in 1970, directed by Chuck Jones (who also directed the television version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas), produced by Ted Geisel, and with narration by Hans Conried. In this direction, the Sour Kangaroo's name is Jane, while her son is named Junior.
In Russia, Alexei Karayev directed I Can Hear You in 1992, a 19-minute paint-on-glass-animated film which is based on the Russian translation of Seuss's poetry but features a very different visual style. The story also provides the basic plot for the 2000 Broadway musical Seussical.
Horton Hears a Who! was made into feature-length film in 2008, utilizing computer animation from Blue Sky Studios, the animation arm of 20th Century Fox. It was released on March 14 2008. Jim Carrey voices Horton, and Steve Carell voices the Mayor of Who-ville.
Horton Hears a Who! also includes Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose as part of the Dr. Seuss Video Classics series.
Story's characters in other media
Jane Kangaroo, her child, and the Wickersham Brothers also appear in The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, as well as Horton himself and his son Morton the Elephant-Bird from Horton Hatches the Egg.
Horton is one of the main characters in the Broadway play Seussical. Also, the Sour Kangaroo and the Wickersham Brothers as a sort of evil gang trying to prove that the Whos are not there as is stated in the song "Biggest Blame Fool". Vlad Vladikoff also assists the Sour Kangaroo.
The Whos also appear in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and Halloween is Grinch Night. The live-action The Grinch movie reinforces the idea that the Whos are microscopic by showing that the events in How The Grinch Stole Christmas! actually took place within a snowflake. Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horton_Hears_a_Who! Random House, 1954, ISBN 0-394-80078-8
Toto's real name is Terry.
You might be interested to know that the wolves have a different version of Little Red Riding Hood than we do. - F. Forrester Church
(Editor's note: There's also a great children's book of the Three Little Pigs as told by A. Woolfe)