With the film adaptation of the popular children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day hitting theaters this weekend, we got to thinking: what other children’s books would make great movies? Here’s a selection of titles that we think would be cinematic successes.
1. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith
This book takes the classic tale of “The Three Little Pigs” and turns it around on the little porkers, giving the wolf a chance to tell his side of the story. Speaking from his jail cell, Mr. A. Wolf explains what really happened, while pleading his case for innocence. Scieszka and Smith merge snarky storytelling with layered, collage-like illustrations, giving this book a vibrant look that could be cleverly translated into stop-motion animation for the silver screen.
2. The Night Eater by Ana Juan
This colorful book explores an alternate reality in which a pudgy, pajama-clad figure circles the world eating the darkness, making way for the new day to begin. Juan’s illustrations are incredibly appealing, and the movie would have to be made as an animated flick (of course!) for this to work. The Night Eater’s solid story line would lend itself well to CG or stop motion animation, and its abundance of kooky characters could be given new life with any number of unique voice-over artists.
3. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Set in the era of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, Esperanza Rising possesses an incredible backdrop for this equally extraordinary story. The book explores the timely themes of racism and immigration through the eyes of Esperanza, a girl forced to flee her comfortable life on a ranch in Mexico for a migrant camp in California. This versatile character has the potential to elicit an emotional response from every person in the theater.
4. Blubber by Judy Bloom
A relatable book for elementary kids, tweens and teens, Blubber explores the nature of friendships, family relationships and how to properly egg a house on Halloween. Primarily a story with an anti-bullying message, the book is told from the point of view of neither the bully nor the girl getting bullied, but from someone who is caught in the middle. Through this character’s eyes, we see how failing to stand up for others can be just as harmful as the actual bullying—and how empathy is the key to finding one’s moral compass. Blubber would translate best as a live action film, catering to families who want a movie that is both funny and heartfelt.
5. Corduroy by Don Freeman
A childhood favorite since its first publication date in 1968, Corduroy could be an adorable film that would garner the rare G-rating so many parents seek out for their younger children. Here’s to hoping we see the fuzzy bear wearing his signature green overalls on the silver screen in the near future.