With so many movies nowadays being reboots, remakes, sequels, or blockbusters, it’s disheartening that there are fewer and fewer book adaptations. Especially now, as people seem to read less, some great books could be forgotten. So, what better way (besides reading them) is there to reach a young audience than to make a movie based on a book? Ir worked for The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. The Stargirl adaptation is a breath of fresh air. Here’s a list of books aimed at people under the age of 21 and above the age of 7 that could use a good movie adaptation (and perhaps get the original book more attention).
10 Go Set A Watchman
The controversial “sequel” to one of the most important books ever written, To Kill A Mockingbird, Go Set A Watchman is actually almost certainly a first draft of the original famous novel that was tweaked a little after being discovered with an aging Harper Lee, who had previously promised to never publish another book.
Shady nature aside, Go Set A Watchman could actually serve as an interesting movie if all ties to its predecessor are cut. It’s not a good sequel, but it has the potential to be a good story if treated as its own thing entirely. And likewise, if an adaptation does happen, and the creators decide to make it a direct sequel, the fallout and almost certain failure of the movie will be like watching a firework misfire: a beautiful disaster.
9 Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing
Judy Blume has written a lot of ground-breaking and fantastic tween novels, including Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. The “Fudge series” is about a boy named Peter and his very energetic little brother, known as Fudge, dealing with each other amongst many life changes. Fudge is quite the handful, and frankly, utterly annoying, but he’s just a kid. Peter, also being a (slightly older) kid and having to deal with it makes for a clash of brothers that many siblings can relate to.
Quick, what’s the first piece of writing you think of when you imagine a big yellow smiley face? Watchmen? Yeah, but there’s also Happyface. The book functions as a personal journal, with sketches, thoughts, and miscellaneous items pasted in. Happyface is about a teen dealing with serious depression who hides it with a constant big grin at school, earning him his nickname. The epitome of “ignore the problem and it’ll go away.” He’s socially awkward but charismatic. He’s talented but lacks drive. He loves his family but he hates them. Everything is a paradox for the confused teenager, and Happyface is a devastating but hope-inducing book that truly lets any reader lucky enough to gaze its pages enter the mind of its protagonist. And it’s a fascinating mind, filled with dark humor.
7 Geronimo Stilton
Fun fact: Geronimo Stilton is actually one of the best-selling book series ever written. There are literally hundreds of main books and spinoffs in the series, in multiple languages (it’s originally Italian), all around the world. The series revolves around a mouse who works as a newspaper writer, named Geronimo Stilton. He has the personality of Bilbo Baggins, but his sister is quite the contrary, as she always ropes him into adventures, upon which his cousin Trap, and his nephew Benjamin, frequently join.
Throughout all of these adventures, Geronimo learns to be a bit more assertive and always nabs a good story for his paper. The books are creatively designed, the adventures are numerous and diverse, and the supporting cast all serve as great characters. The real question is, who could make an original movie with a unique style that gives a fresh new story while paying homage to the old? Phil Lord and Chris Miller, are you seeing this? Edgar Wright?
6 Breathing Underwater
16-year-old Nick Andreas is the stereotypical big man on campus. He’s intelligent, rich, and a hunk. However, he absorbed a nasty trait from his father: rage. After years of abuse, Nick succumbs to becoming jealous, manipulative, imposing, and eventually, a physical abuser. The book deals with Nick’s anger management and a court case against him while flashing back (through Nick’s therapy journal) to show how he and his ex-girlfriend came together and how they fell apart when his abuse came to the surface. The story isn’t about redemption or forgiveness, but rather, understanding where the anger came from and how to control it to start a new phase, not fix something horribly ruined. It’s unique in that it’s from the abuser’s point of view, and thus, the duality of seeing his charming exterior while hearing his disturbing actual thoughts is effective at showing just how deep the roots of rage can grow.
Frindle is one of the most 1990s books about school ever written. It is about a mischevious boy named Nick who decides to start calling pens “frindles” out of boredom, and wages war against his stern but fair teacher, who doesn’t want to have him waste time. The fad quickly escalates, and Nick loses control of the situation. Long story short, an adaptation would be odd in the 2020s. Kids just don’t function like that anymore. But perhaps if the film took place in the ’90s and showcased that lost era of the education system, it could be fascinating. Before Columbine, before NCLB, before the 2008 financial crisis, before social media. The book is so wholesome that it seems baffling that this was possible just less than 25 years ago.
4 The Name Of This Book Is Secret
The first in a series of five novels with thematic relevance to the five senses, The Name Of This Book Is Secret is very similar in style to A Series of Unfortunate Events. There are clever kids, a bizarre 4th-wall breaking narrator, a convoluted plot, and nasty villains. As there are only 5 novels as opposed to 13, a TV show or a movie would work just fine for this series. The story involves two precocious kids following the hints left behind by a dead magician, but they need to solve the mystery of his death and some valuable left in his wake, and fast before his old rivals do.
Beverly Cleary has written a lot of great children’s/tween literature, and oddly enough, in a world filled with cat and dog movies, there has yet to be an adaptation of Socks. Come on, somebody jump on it and make the Beverly Cleary Cinematic Universe already. Her books are all inter-connected. We got Nine Lives, we got Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, we got a Grumpy Cat Christmas movie…but we can’t get Socks? It’s a charming little cat story with the classic “I’m getting replaced by a baby” dilemma faced by older siblings and pets everywhere.
2 Belly Up
For fans of books like Hoot, the outline of Belly Up isn’t too far off. While living at an animal theme park named “FunJungle,” a kid named Teddy is investigating a murder. Not just any murder, but the murder of the park mascot, Henry the Hippo, found belly up in his lagoon. Teddy stirs some people up and gets heat on his tail, which grows hotter as he gets closer to unraveling the mystery. Teddy is cocky and clever, which can get a bit too tedious as many novels with untouchable and infallible smart kids can get, but the book’s humor and unique setting do keep its momentum.
1 The Day My Bum Went Psycho
The Day My Bum Went Psycho is the first in a trilogy written by Andy Griffiths, a notoriously silly Australian author. This trilogy is pretty much the most bottom of the barrel low brow humor there is, and it’s fantastic. It’s very self-aware, bizarre, and surprisingly engaging. Essentially, people’s butts begin popping off their bodies and revolt. Imagine Planet of the Apes, but with butts. There was a rather disappointing animated TV adaptation loosely based on the books, but in a world with a good Captain Underpants movie, a trilogy of The Day My Bum Went Psycho would be welcomed. Sir-Mix-A-Lot could probably make a cameo.
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