“The book was better than the movie.”
“They totally changed that part!”
It’s hard to translate fully realised worlds and characters of entire novels within 90 minutes of screen time, but there are plenty of great middle-grade book-to-movie adaptations worthy of a couple of bowls of popcorn.
Here are some of my favorites!
HOLES by Louis Sachar: the book!
Stanley Yelnats and his family are cursed with a long history of bad luck. A miscarriage of justice sends Stanley to a strange desert camp for troubled teens where the ‘campers’ spend their days digging holes in the sand. To what end? The mysterious reason behind the holes is a closely guarded secret by the warden and her posse. Hilarity ensues.
Sigourney Weaver is awesome as the lipstick wielding Warden Walker. The rest of the cast (from Caveman, Zero, Squid and Armpit) is pitch-perfect. A great book-to-movie adaptation with great scenery, music and as close to the book as you can get.
4/4 Bowls of Popcorn!
NIM’S ISLAND by Wendy Orr: the book!
Adventure, a touch of danger and well-trained animals make for a highly watchable movie. Nim’s character, played by Abigail Breslin , outshines Jodi Foster’s role as reclusive author, Alex Rover, but both are still very entertaining.
3.5/4 Bowls of Popcorn!
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX by Kate DiCamillo: the book!
“Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish.” What’s not to love?
Great as an animated adaptation because, well, the main character is a MOUSE but more than that, the animation is gorgeous, moody and evocative. Dungeon scenes are a bit dark but, conversely, Mig’s storyline is less harsh than in the book.
3.5/4 Bowls of Popcorn!
Here are a few more suggestions from Mixed Up Files authors and my bibliovideophile friends (please add your picks in the comments!):
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (book/movie)
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (book/movie)
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling (book/movie)
How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell (book/movie)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney (book/movie)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (book/movie)
Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key (book/movie)
Hotel for Dogs by Lois Duncan (book/movie)
Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman (book/movie)
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (book/movie)
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (book/movie)
The Borrowers by Mary Norton (book/movie)
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (book/movie)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (book/movie)
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (book/movie)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg (book/movie)
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (book/movie)
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell (book/movie)
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynn Reid Banks (book/movie)
Stuart Little by E. B. White (book/movie)
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (book/movie)
Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary (book/movie)
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Raold Dahl (book/movie)
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (book/movie)
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Happy reading and viewing!
Hélène Boudreau loves to read middle-grade books, listen to middle-grade books and watch middle-grade book-to-movie adaptations. Her own upper middle-grade book, REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky) will be released Dec.1/2010 in book and audiobook format, though she can’t resist casting the characters in her head. You can visit her at www.heleneboudreau.com