Horton Hears a Who!

Analysing the film

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The following module is designed to help you get a deeper understanding of the film.

Watch the film, then answer the following questions in sentences in your book, or together as a class.

Respond to the film

Share single word responses to the film.

  • Do these match the words you chose to describe the book?
  • Why or why not? Explain.
  • Which aspects of the film stand out?

Think about the music, animation and use of colour.

  • Which images or moments are particularly memorable?
  • Share your favourite scene with the person next to you. Use the following prompts to get the discussion started:
  • How did the story make you feel?
  • Did it make you happy, laugh, angry, upset or sad? Why?
  • Give examples of moments in the film that made you feel that way.

In groups, discuss the main message of the film.

  • What is it?
  • Is there more than one message?
  • Is it the same as the message communicated in the book? Explain your answer.
  • What story elements are added to the film that are not in Dr. Seuss’s book?
  • What do they add to the story?
  • How effective are these added story elements? Explain.

Mise-en-scene (everything you see in the frame)

In Horton Hears a Who!, we see two different worlds: the world of the jungle and the world of the Whos.

  • Describe each of these different worlds focusing on colour, shape and detail. Freeze-frame an image of Whoville and discuss what you see. Focus on specific elements such as the use of colour, lighting, the setting and location, objects and furniture, the appearance and clothing of the characters, the way the characters relate to the setting.
  • How do the things you have noticed add to the story?

Horton can hear the creatures of Whoville but cannot see them or their world. He is a creature of the jungle and has no idea, for instance, what a bathroom is.

  • Write a letter to Horton explaining what Whoville is like and how it is different from the jungle.

Animators talk about ‘shots’ as if an animated film has been filmed with a camera and, in fact, Horton Hears a Who! uses a lot of techniques we associate with live action such as close-ups, wideshots, different angles etc.

  • Explore some of the choices made and think about the effect of these choices.

Exploring characters

Working in pairs, write two character lists:

  • List the main characters we meet in the Jungle of Nool.
  • List the main characters in Whoville.

Choose a favourite character from each of these lists.

  • What is the role of these characters in the story?
  • Describe them. Why are they your favourite characters?
  • Who is your least favourite character? Why?

Dr Seuss has created some wonderful nonsense characters and animals for his story.

  • How are these crazy creatures brought to life in the film?
  • Are they very different from the way they are described in the book?

Exploring themes

Living Responsibly

"A person is a person, no matter how small."

  • Discuss this statement with a friend and explain what it means.
  • What do we learn about Horton from this statement?
  • How does Horton demonstrate his sense of responsibility towards others?
  • With your class, discuss what you and other students have done to care for something (environment, school community, suburb) or someone (friend, family) who needs their help. What did they do? How did they help?

Kangaroo tells Horton ‘If you can’t see, hear or feel something then it doesn’t exist’.

  • Do you think this is true?
  • In a small group, brainstorm all the things we know about even though we cannot see, hear or feel them. (Think about really small things, places you haven’t been to, things that are really far away and people you haven’t met.)

Speaking out and speaking up

  • Why does it take courage and determination for Horton to speak up for the members of Whoville?
  • Why is it so hard for an individual to speak up and speak out?
  • Why doesn’t the kangaroo believe Horton about the existence of the microscopic inhabitants of Whoville?
  • How does Horton try to convince the kangaroo?
  • If you were Horton what would you say to convince the kangaroo?

Respect and Tolerance

  • Brainstorm words that describe Horton’s response to the Whos.
  • What does this tell us about him?
  • Brainstorm words that describe the response of the animals in the jungle to Horton’s discovery.
  • What does this tell us about them? How does the kangaroo behave?
  • Why do the other animals do what she tells them to do?
  • What could the other creatures in the jungle do to help Horton?
  • Why don’t they do this?
  • What would you do to help Horton?

Caring for the World

  • Choose two characters from the film and draw a Venn diagram to explore similarities and differences.

Next modules


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Creative activities

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