Everyone's been buzzing about The Last Song, a book/film project Nicholas Sparks cooked up for teen singing sensation Miley Cyrus. But that's not the only upcoming film sparked (I can't resist) by the writer's work. Before Last Song's premiere in April, fans will be able to spend Valentine's Day watching Dear John, a movie starring Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum. (Read our interview with Sparks about Dear John here.)
Sparks' page-to-screen record has been uneven, veering from home runs like The Notebook to big misses like last year's Nights in Rodanthe. According to Sparks, the book Dear John was inspired by the film Casablanca. Lasse Hallstrom at the helm is promising, but somehow I just don't see Seyfried and Tatum as Bacall and Bogart—but judge for yourself in the trailer below.
As for the Miley movie—so far, that trailer has only been shown at her concerts. After the jump, the fearless among you can see a YouTube video of the trailer, taken at a concert. The jumbotron is blurry and sometimes the squealing fans drown out the dialogue, but it's enough to get the idea.
Sparks is also making waves in the book blogosphere: Trish from Hey Lady! has challenged Rebecca of The Book Lady's Blog to give him a try during this weekend's Read-a-Thon. Rebecca will be tweeting her impressions of Sparks' work under the hashtag #IHeartTheSpark on Saturday, if you want to keep up with her reactions. Are you a Sparks fan? What's your favorite book or film?
At BookPage, we have been struck by the number of high-profile movie adaptations of beloved children’s picture books. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Where the Wild Things Are immediately come to mind, but there are others, too: The Polar Express (written in 1985, adapted for the big screen in 2004); Curious George (1941, 2006); Horton Hears a Who! (1954, 2008).
On Tuesday, HarperCollins launched a Where the Wild Things Are website with the theme, “Read it Before You See It.” As many of you know, Spike Jonze’s “Wild Things” movie – based on Maurice Sendak’s unforgettable 1963 classic – hits theaters on Friday. (See trailer below the jump.)
Sendak’s book includes 10 sentences. Many readers will remember the simple and powerful last line, about Max’s dinner: "And it was still hot.” Sendak’s language may be wonderful, but it is undeniably sparse. Reading this book as a child, I would never have picked it to be a clear choice for a movie adaptation. Based on the trailer (cool music, cooler costumes, muted colors -- a definite departure from typical kids' flicks), I can't wait to see the movie.
Browse the book, courtesy of HarperCollins, here:
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Click here to read an interview with Sendak in BookPage.
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” based on Judi Barrett’s 1978 story (illustrated by Ron Barrett), was released in theaters on Sept. 18. I haven’t seen it yet, but reception has been positive – the movie was #1 in the box office for two weeks in a row (see trailer below). Barrett’s prose does lend itself to animation, I think:
The menu varied. By the time they woke up in the morning, breakfast was coming down. After a brief shower of orange juice, low clouds of sunny-side up eggs moved in followed by pieces of toast. Butter and jelly sprinkled down for the toast. And most of the time it rained milk afterwards.
Has anyone seen "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"? Did the animation live up to the fabulous illustrations in the book? Based on the trailer, there seem to be some notable differences in the movie (where is Grandpa Henry?).
What other children’s books would you like to see as movies? Lynn nominated Goodnight Moon. I’d like to see movie versions of The Lorax, The Giving Tree (“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy” . . . my heart breaks just thinking about it), and one of my all-time favorites, Mercer Mayer’s Liza Loo and the Yeller Belly Swamp.
Where the Wild Things Are trailer:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs trailer:
Whether we loved it or hated it, many of us who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s will never forget Francine Pascal’s perennial middle school soap opera, Sweet Valley High. The series, which began in 1983, included over 150 books about the beautiful Wakefield Twins, Elizabeth and Jessica.
What it lacked in depth, the series made up for in romantic subplots, cat-fights and descriptive gems such as:
“Jessica stared at herself in the full-length mirror and saw a picture of utter heartbreak and despair. But what was actually reflected in the glass was about the most adorable, most dazzling sixteen-year-old girl imaginable.”
SVH fans may soon be able to see their favorite blue-eyed-blonde heroines on the big screen. On Tuesday, Hollywood trade paper Daily Variety reported that Diablo Cody (of Juno fame) has signed on to write a screenplay of the series.
Over the past couple of days, Cody’s Twitter page has been abuzz with reassurances for die-hard SVH fans. A recent tweet reports: “Attn. Sweet Valley residents: I’ll need your guidance in this process, so please keep in touch.” Or a comment that many readers can relate to: “Like most girls, I’m a Jelizabeth.” (Don’t most of us waver between identifying with nerdy Elizabeth or fun-loving Jessica?”)
In any case, Diablo Cody is certain to add a little spunk to a movie that could be (in the words of Jessica) “boring as butter” in the wrong hands.
Any readers have a shoebox full of SVH novels lurking in their closets? Or ideas about who should portray real-life Elizabeth and Jessica?
How about a notable SVH memory? As a flute player in 8th grade band class, I used to get scolded for reading Sweet Valley High (the “Senior Year” shoot-off) during long rests.
Over the weekend, I went to see The Time Traveler's Wife with my book club. As someone who liked Niffenegger's novel but wasn't enthralled with it, I expected to the enjoy film version—especially since it starred one of my favorite actresses. Unfortunately even Rachel McAdams couldn't save the clunky script. (The guys from "Mystery Science Theater 3000" would have had a ball with this one.) There's a lot going on--jumping through time, marriage, miscarriage, childbirth--but the film never pauses to take a breath and allow the characters to contemplate the questions that loving someone who travels through time (or being the person who travels through time) raises. The few and far-between scenes that do explore Henry and Clare's feelings about their strange lives feel heavy-handed, forced and out of place, especially when supported by the cheesy score.
It didn't help that the darker edges of Niffenegger's novel, like Henry's alcoholism and the real dangers he faces during time-travel, Gomez's politics and Clare's family issues, are all absent. This, I presume, was so that a good 30 minutes of the film could be used to establish that time-travel 1.) is real and 2.) freaks people out, as Henry spends them explaining his impairment to one character after the other in gravelly tones ("I'm a time-traveler") and then deals with their disbelief by slowly dissolving into a puddle of clothing.
My book club also pointed out that while the book tries to be more evenhanded and tell Clare's story as well (it is called The Time Traveler's Wife after all) the film is most definitely all about the time-traveler. Also, Gomez is supposed to be blond.
Have you seen the film? How did you think it compared to the novel?
As a child growing up in the early 1980s, I loved the picture book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and its goofy—but oddly realistic—illustrations of such meteorological events as the floods of orange juice and storms of hamburgers that engulfed the town of Chewandswallow. (My father, who read the book aloud to my brother and me many hundreds of times, was less fond of it, which may explain why I never saw the sequel, Pickles to Pittsburgh, until I was an adult.) So I was excited to find out that Sony Pictures Animation has done a movie adaptation of this classic book by husband-and-wife team Judi and Ron Barrett, although its distinctive illustrations have been replaced Pixar-style animation. The movie, which will be released in the U.S. on September 18, includes the voices of such talented and funny actors as Lauren Graham, Neil Patrick Harris, and Bruce Campbell.
Those of us who miss Ron Barrett’s illustrations can see more of them in the Barretts’ newest book, The Marshmallow Incident. This book tells the tale of the towns of Left and Right, and how they are brought together by a marshmallow war that looks more like a blizzard than a military campaign. With its detailed drawings of the two towns and their curious establishments (“Lefty’s: We Proudly Serve Leftovers”), The Marshmallow Incident is a delightful story about how the towns of Left and Right learned right from wrong.
The box office success of Julie & Julia has spurred sales of Julia Child’s opus, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Amazon sold out of copies on Aug. 10 and has yet to restock, though there are copies available from private sellers; The Associated Press reports that Knopf has rushed 75,000 copies into print.
The book of the same name by blogger Julie Powell that inspired the movie has seen sales volume pick up as well. ABC News reported that it sold 42,000 copies the week of the movie’s debut. Here’s our take on Julie & Julia. If you’re waiting for a review on all 750+ pages of Mastering, you’ll have to give us a minute on that one! Or just check out our interview with Child's grand-nephew, Alex Prud'homme, who collaborated with her on a memoir about her life with her beloved Paul and her years in France.
Today’s publication of Nick McDonell’s third novel, An Expensive Education, probably has more than a few would-be writers twitching with jealousy—McDonell’s first novel, Twelve, was published when the author was just 18 years old.
On Sunday, the New York Times profiled the now 25-year-old writer. McDonell comes from a literary background—his father edits Sports Illustrated, and Hunter S. Thompson was a family friend. Although these connections no doubt helped McDonell get his first book deal, critic Michiko Kakutani validated the writer’s talent by calling Twelve “as fast as speed, as relentless as acid.” In BookPage, the novel was praised as being “energetic and episodic, brimming with tension. . . . McDonell, who is only 18, writes with a worldliness and wisdom that exceed his years.” Currently, Twelve is being turned into a movie by director Joel Schumacher, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Chace Crawford and 50 Cent.
Does anyone have other favorite authors who were discovered at a young age? A few immediately come to mind: Michael Chabon (The Mysteries of Pittsburgh was Chabon’s honors thesis and published when he was 25); Marisha Pessl (Special Topics in Calamity Physics debuted when Pessl was 28; Night Film is forthcoming in 2010); and Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything Is Illuminated was drawn from Foer’s senior thesis and published when he was 25). Young writer Kaleb Nation (age 20) is starting to get some buzz. His YA novel Bran Hambric: The Farfield Curse will be published on Sept. 1.
On July 7, Lynn blogged about New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof’s controversial column on must-read children’s books. Also on July 7, Kristof posted an acknowledgement of the huge reader response he received; more than 2,350 people commented on his list.
(For those who weren’t following the debate, Kristof posted a list of the “best kids’ books ever” and neglected to mention many wonderful authors. Personally, I was aghast that Laura Ingalls Wilder got the shaft.)
In his apologetic response, Kristof wrote, “As many readers pointed out, Roald Dahl really should have had a place on the list. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a pinnacle of literature, a bit ahead of Proust.”
Ah, Roald Dahl. How many of us have worn copies of Matilda, or James and the Giant Peach, or The BFG on our bookshelves?
As a huge Dahl fan, I was interested to read Wednesday’s headline from the UK’s Telegraph newspaper: “Roald Dahl proves a man of a great many letters for his biographer.” Apparently Donald Sturrock, a British documentary filmmaker and friend of the Dahl family, was set to finalize an authorized biography of the beloved author when he found an unexpected source: over 300 letters between Roald Dahl and his best friend, Charles Marsh. In order for Sturrock to have time to factor in the new information (“everything from politics and illness to sex, marriage and why he started writing,” says the Telegraph), the biography’s publication date has been delayed until September 2010. Sturrock won’t reveal how he got the letters.
There is, however, something to look forward to in the near future: Farrar, Straus and Giroux will release More About Boy: Roald Dahl’s Tales from Childhood in September, just days before what would have been the author's 93rd birthday (September 13). The publisher promises that this addendum to Dahl’s classic autobiography, Boy, is a “special keepsake hardcover edition” with “some of the secrets that were left out” from the original. Can’t wait!
Simon & Schuster’s The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington comes out in paperback on September 8. (Read BookPage's review here.)
And of course, the movie version of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, featuring the voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep, is coming November 13. Click here to watch the trailer.
If you could discover a secret collection of letters from an author, who would it be?
To continue the reminiscing . . . does anyone have a favorite character, book or film adaptation from Dahl’s wacky universe?
It’s a fair proposition. Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen (reviewed here in BookPage) was born from a popular blog. The blog-turned-book will garner an even bigger audience next week, when the movie Julie & Julia hits theaters.
The distance Powell’s blog has traveled got me thinking . . . is it really possible to turn a daily blog into a full-fledged book?
Research says yes—although success like Powell’s is unlikely. In October, Hachette Book Group will publish Mrs. O: The Face of Fashion Democracy, by Mary Tomer. Tomer—or “Mrs. T,” as she is known online—is the author of “Mrs. O.”, a popular blog that chronicles the fashion of Michelle Obama. A few years ago, The Feminist Press published Baghdad Burning and Baghdad Burning II, both compilations based on Iraqi blogger Riverbend’s site. The first book went on to win third place for the Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage. (Disclosure: I once interned at The FP.) Lighter blogs like Stuff White People Like, This is why you're fat, and Bike Snob NYC, have also landed book deals.
Anyone out there know of other successful blogs-to-books? How about ideas for clever blogs (or blog concepts) that might encourage Random House, Penguin, etc. to come knocking?
After two other successful Wilde adaptations, director Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson have teamed up to bring Wilde's only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, to the big screen.
For the non-Wilde fans out there, the book tells the story of a young, beautiful man who sells his soul to stay that way. Ben Barnes, aka Prince Caspian, plays Dorian and heads up a cast that includes Colin Firth (as Henry Wotton, Dorian's mentor in debauchery).
So far, the film is slated for a 09.09.09 release in the UK—no US date has been announced. But we Americans can watch the very. dramatic. trailer. and marvel at Colin Firth's beard.
Thanks to EBC for the trailer link.