I like a good children’s book, especially when this memorable book is adapted into a movie. When done right, the director can successfully capture the imagined world that is playing out in the children’s minds, making the pages come alive on the big screen! I would like to list nine of these movies that have done justice to the books, then I would like to talk about one particular children’s book that must get its own movie, and I will give my reasons why!
1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
This is a perfect children’s story told on the big screen. You’ve got relatable children winning golden tickets to a chocolate factory hosted by Willy Wonka and his musical Oompa Loompas. Not only did this book get the movie treatment twice, but it did manage to popularize its own brand of chocolate goodies. This story is just “pure imagination.”
The film received mostly positive reviews, however by all standards it was a box office dud. The film has since developed a cult following. This is mostly due to its repeated television airings throughout the years and home entertainment video sales. In 1972, the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. Wilder was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, but lost both to Fiddler on the Roof.
2. Jumanji (1995)
Jumanji (which means ‘many effects’ in Zulu) is about kids being “bored” enough to play a “board game” that spawns various “games” from a jungle by just a role of the dice. The film was supposed to be the next big thing in CGI and had a budget of $50 million, which was nothing to sneeze at back then. It’s a good thing then that the film went on to earn $262,797,249 worldwide at the box office.
The movie adaption starred the beloved and well missed Robin Williams as the guide to end the game before it got too “wild.” This movie was not only a success in the blockbuster; it also got its own TV Show from 1996-1999 and ironically a board game. Are you game?
A little known fact is that young Scarlett Johansson auditioned for the role of overall-clad Judy Shepherd, but we all know that it went to Kirsten Dunst.
If you visit Keene, New Hampshire, one of the towns where “Jumanji” was filmed, you’ll still see the fictional Parrish Shoe sign painted on the side of a building.
3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
When we are talking children’s books adapted into movies, we cannot forget the Doctor.
Dr. Seuss has written countless children books and most of them have become Cartoon TV Shows and even quotable movies that have a little bit of rhyming here and there and everywhere. With the aid of Ron Howard’s directing and Jim Carrey’s comedic improvs, you have a great family movie! Aside from it being a seasonal movie to watch for the holidays, it has an awesome soundtrack that sets the mood for Christmas. “Where are you Christmas?”
Winning the Academy Award for Best Makeup, The Grinch is the second highest-grossing holiday film of all time with $345,141,403 worldwide. It is second only to Home Alone. It was also nominated for Oscars for Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction.
4. Shrek (2001-2010)
Not a lot of people know that all the Shrek Sequels were based on a children’s book by William Steig, under the same name. The original story is quite different from the movie, but it still had Shrek, a dragon, a talking donkey, and a castle with Shrek’s bride to be. Since its film release, Shrek has had four movies, straight to DVD holiday spin-offs and even a musical in 2013. “I’m a believer!”
What even more people don’t know is that Chris Farley was originally cast as Shrek. He recorded about 80%–90% of his dialog. After Farley died in 1997, before he could finish, Mike Myers was brought in to play the character, who after his first recording decided to record his voice in a Scottish accent.
When it comes to children’s books adapted into movies, the film was a critical and commercial success, earning $484.4 million at the worldwide box office.
5. The Polar Express (2004)
Another holiday book that was successful in the film industry. It was done completely in 3D animation with talented voice actors like Tom Hanks, who voiced numerous characters in the film, even the young boy. The movie took you on a fun filled ride aboard The Polar Express to see “The Big Man” himself. Kris Kringle! Even though he was in 3D, no matter what the age, you wanted to know if Santa was real!
6. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
You’ve got Wes Anderson as the director, old school stop motion, George Clooney reprising his Ocean’s 11 role as a heist anti-hero and an all-star cast doing a “cussing” good job in this Roald Dahl classic!
7. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009-2013)
Various types of food groups falling from the sky in the fictional city of Chewandswallow had audiences’ mouths watering over its delicious goodness. With an all-star cast and SNL actors topping it off with their random unforgettable lines, it is no wonder this story became our favorite book to sink our teeth into and our favorite eye-candy for film. We even got a second dish with the sequel! Do you think we’re ready for thirds?
8. How to Train Your Dragon (2010-2014)
It was awesome to see this book fly into theaters with dragons of all shapes and sizes, and learn how to best each one, especially the legendary Night Fury! The second part did amazingly well in the blockbuster, and didn't follow the standard procedure where normally sequels are watered down with old material when they come out. I think the training is complete in this one.
9. Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day (2014)
Everybody has their bad days. This is why this book to film adaption is perfect for the whole family, and their given situation. Just because you woke up with gum in your hair doesn’t mean you have to start off on the wrong foot for the rest of the day. Steve Carell does a great job in playing the father figure who will brighten everybody’s day!
Now for the one we’ve all been waiting for! The book that needs the movie treatment!
Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo
The title alone, tells you what the book is about, but the back story is that Wormbog collects monsters of every kind from A-Y, and he can’t seem to find the Zipperump-a-Zoo. In my opinion, this could be a perfect family film! Picture a professional explorer capturing countless monsters in the intro. He marks off the list of monsters caged in his collection only to find one monster is missing… the Zipperump-a-Zoo. In the book, it shows a brief picture of what the monster looks like. In the movie we could leave it a mystery, so that Wormbog doesn’t know what the creature is exactly. With this minor change it would give the story more flexibility by having the viewers guess what this creature looks like and then finally reveal the true identity in the end. To add to this change, it would help the main character use humorous and interesting ways of trying to snatch the Zipperump-a-Zoo throughout the movie, since he has never encountered this creature before. Speaking of creatures, the book is obviously stacked full of them, this will be a perfect opportunity to create toy collections of these various monsters. Each child would pretend to be Professor Wormbog when trying to collect all the monsters in the alphabet, especially the rare and mythical Zipperump-a-Zoo!
What do you think? Should this children’s book get its own movie? Let me know in the comments below!