In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Books and Movies: which comes first?

The Helen Oxenbury Nursery Collection is so great -- I'm mystified why Candlewick Books decided to put it out of print.  One of our readers has asked about how we know about out-of-print books.  There are lots of sources.  Libraries are probably the best.  They have many books which are great and may have gone out of print recently.  Then there are the books you remember from your own childhood -- alas, many of those may be no longer in print.  If you have only a vague memory of the plot, I recommend -- it's lovely.  And once you know what you want, if a library loan isn't permanent enough, check out  It's a consortium of used book stores from all over the country. Prices are usually fairly reasonable, and their assessment of condition is pretty close to accurate.

Moving on..  I wanted to talk a little about movies made from books. The Ramona books, by Beverly Cleary, are going to be put into movie form this summer by Disney.  Having looked at the trailer, this depresses me a lot.  Ramona seems to be well cast, but big sister Beezus is a kind of sexy Selena Gomez -- aack!   And scenes from books spanning Ramona's life from pre-school through fourth grade have all been mushed together.  Cleary has written eight Ramona books, which take her from pre-school to fourth grade.  I'll write more about them in another post, but they're wonderfully written, full of funny moments and wry wit, very empathetic with whatever age Ramona is in the book, and understandingly realistic about the little tensions that exist within families.  Although they've been written in order, one can read any one without having read what came before.  For an excerpt from one of them, see my May 2 post.

 I want to bring up parental policy about movies made from books.  There are, of course, many of them , aimed at many different ages.  I've been impressed over the years how many parents I've talked to in the store who say they insist on reading a book before seeing the movie -- no matter how different the two are.  I know you did this, Annie, with Wizard of Oz.  It gives a child the real story before seeing how Hollywood re-works it.  And it offers lots of teachable moments for discussion  of how elements were changed.

So if there are folks out there with children between say, 5 or 6 and 10, why not do a festival of reading Ramona books before Disney undercuts them?  It would be a lovely way to spend the summer. 



1 comment:

  1. My 5yo has never seen a movie in the movie theatre and is dying to but everything is too scary. The Ramona movie would probably be perfect but I definitely want her to read the books first. We bought them all at a tag sale so I'm going to get on it! We just finished All-of-A-Kind Family so this will be our next project.