Perhaps this won’t come as a surprise to you, but I don’t always want my very favorite books to be movies. My nine-year-old said it best when he told me he wasn’t sure he wanted to see the Percy Jackson movies just yet. “Once I see it in a movie,” he said, “it never goes back to the way I used to see it in my mind.” I understand how he feels; my Draco Malfoy looked nothing like Tom Felton, but now he’s stuck in my imagination forever.
That said, there is something magical about seeing a beloved world on the silver screen, especially if the portrayals are just perfect. I don’t hear anyone complaining about Collin Firth as Mr. Darcy or Megan Fellows as Anne. Even Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka made a lot more sense after I read the book and realized how weird the whole thing is. All this talk around my house about the Ready, Player One and The Glass Castle movies has me thinking about the books I’d most like to see turned into films.
The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. I love this series so very much, and I think any one of the books would make a fantastic movie. Although the series is narrated in the first person, there’s not so much internal dialogue that it wouldn’t translate to film. As long as the CGI wasn’t too cheesy, I would definitely pay to see Lockwood & Co. on the big screen.
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. Birdsall says right on her website that it would take something incredible to convince her to sell the movie rights to her books, and I’m glad. I only want to see The Penderwicks as a movie if it’s as charming as the book.
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. I went back and forth here because so much of what I love about this series is difficult to articulate. As with The Screaming Staircase, the CGI and voice acting would have to be spot on, and I’d have to go into the movie knowing large chunks would need to be cut in the interest of length…unless of course someone wanted to make each book into a season-long mini series. Then we could have all the dragons in all their glory.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. I can’t think of anything in the book that would be ruined by putting it on screen, and I can already see the night of the village dance in my mind: the costumes, the belly dancers, the catty country club politics. Plus, it would give us a chance to see some stellar acting from some of our favorite aging British actors. Can’t you just hear them now?
Once I got going, it wasn’t hard to get excited about any one of these books as a movie. I know I’m missing some great ideas (not to mention the really terrible adaptations that could be redeemed). What books would you like to watch?