At the movies — children and teen book adaptations

New Zealand movie and book enthusiasts alike are in for a treat over the next months. There are several exciting book-to-film adaptations imminent, with some already showing on the big screen.

Movie adaptations can ignite interest in a book and motivate readers to delve into the author’s backlist.

At The Movies

For tweens and teens

Currently screening is The Changeover — the film adaptation of Margaret Mahy’s award-winning 1984 novel. The film version places the story in post-quake Christchurch. It follows the tale of teenager Laura, who must engage her supernatural powers to save younger brother Jacko from creepy shop-owner Carmody Braque (played by Timothy Spall).  The Changeover has been repackaged with an attractive new cover (Hachette) and will make a nice edition to your classroom or library shelves. Hachette has also re-released The Haunting, another brilliant Mahy classic.

R. J. Palacio’s novel Wonder has been a popular choice with tween readers. Ten-year old Auggie has a severe facial deformity so has consequently been home-schooled. On entering middle school Auggie faces bullying and isolation but is eventually accepted by his school mates. Wonder readers will also enjoy Auggie & Me: Three wonder stories. For younger readers there’s a delightful picture book We’re all Wonders, which further explores themes of diversity and self-acceptance and is illustrated by the author too. Wonder the movie will open in New Zealand cinemas at the end of November. Take your tissues!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness deservedly won the Carnegie Medal 2012. It’s a dark and emotional fable that skilfully weaves fantasy with gritty realism. The idea for the book was conceived by award-winning author Siobhan Dowd. Sadly, Dowd’s premature death from cancer prevented her from completing the book. The project was offered to Patrick Ness who was struck by the power of Dowd’s concept. He completed the book in 2011. The film version of Ness’ novel screened at the Film festival earlier this year and is set for general release in early 2018. The book is definitely worth promoting to your capable readers and would work well with gifted students.

For younger readers/viewers

Munro Leaf's The Story of Ferdinand was originally published in 1936. It's an endearing story about Ferdinand, a gentle bull completely uninterested in fighting who prefers to sit and smell the flowers. Adolf Hitler ordered the book burned in Nazi Germany due to the underlying pacifist themes. The animated film can be seen in New Zealand cinemas after Christmas and will hopefully rekindle interest in this classic and enduring picture book.

Looking further ahead

It’s exciting to hear that Peter Jackson is currently working on a film version of the novel Mortal Engines by Philip Reeves. I’ve previously shied away from steampunk as a genre but have been completely won over by author Philip Reeves. Mortal Engines depicts a post-apocalyptic world where cities roam on wheels, devouring each other for resources. It’s a marvellous read — captivating, cinematic and the perfect narrative for Weta Workshop to work their magic. There are four books in the series for your students to enjoy prior to heading to the movie in late 2018.

In the library

Books that have been recreated for the big screen hook in reluctant readers and teens so ensure your library is well-stocked with book-to-movie tie-ins. Other books written by the author can be topped up and displayed. For example, remember how popular all of John Green’s books became after The Fault in our Stars movie? Where available, new editions are a good idea for your collection — an attractive book cover can work wonders.

Take advantage of our reading engagement loans to help encourage your students to pick up the book version of movies they have seen, or other books on similar topics or by the same author.

Plan your reading engagement loan now — requests are open now until the 3rd of November!

Find out more

Helping students to choose books for reading pleasure

Upcoming movie adaptations of favourite children's and YA novels

By Lara Petry

Lara is a Librarian with Services to Schools.

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