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Summer Learning: Book Picks n' Flix

A woman chooses a book from a bookshelf while a film crew films.

Summer Learning keeps moving forward, and the librarians at San Jose Public are moving forward too! We've got another list to help inspire your reading and learning this Summer. If you haven't already, you should sign up for Summer Learning to log your reading and win prizes. We will also be releasing a weekly blog with a new booklist that we hope will pique your interest. This week, we will explore books that have been adapted to movies.

The Summer blockbuster season is upon us, and among the avid movie goers there may be a few anxious readers awaiting the release of a beloved book turned movie. Sometimes the story translates, while other times the director takes liberties with the story. Plenty of movies get their starts as great books, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Murder on the Orient Express, to name a few. Whether you approve of or abhor the changes made to a story while it transitions from paper to film, it's always in good fun to do a compare and contrast with a book and a film. Why not take a look at these books to movies you may have missed in the past? Full list here.

There are many films that got their start as picture books. Children and adults alike will delight at seeing the books they grew up with brought to life.

Of this selection, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs has to be my favorite film 'adaptation', although in this case I'd say the book served more as the inspiration than as a foundation for the movie. The premise itself is ridiculous, but the few jokes that go over children's heads will delight adults as you watch. The book itself is a new classic for children, and quite different from the movie. Both are equally delightful, and children will love the silliness of it all.

Readers can get in on the movie/book comparison with these picks. These picks n' flix span many genres, from humorous to fantasy to tearjerker.

It did feel a little like cheating to include two Roald Dahl books (I honestly could have included more Roald Dahl picks...who can resist the book and film versions of Matilda?) but I feel that the legacy of Roald Dahl's books is one to be celebrated, and the treatment of each story by the film's directors seems (from my point of view) to honor Dahl's legacy, as there isn't much for each story that could be improved upon. If I had to pick just one duo, though, I would recommend the book/movie of Fantastic Mr. Fox. The book is a great read aloud novel, full of mischief and fun. It's not too long so children newer to chapter books may feel confident in taking it on. The movie was directed by Wes Anderson, and fans of his other dark comedies will not be disappointed in this film despite it being a stop-animated feature for children. There's plenty of humor geared more towards adults included, but children will be too engrossed in the animals and their sticky situations to notice.

Pre-Teens can get in on the action too with these picks, heavily leaning on Fantasy but also including a historical and a horror title.

I highly recommend doing a compare/contrast activity with Howl's Moving Castle. To be honest, the first several times I saw the movie version (I've seen this movie a lot at this point) I had no idea that it was based on a book. I caught that there was a novel from the credits of the film and immediately sought it out. I was surprised at the differences between the two versions, but despite this disparity I found that the book still explained what I felt were missing pieces to the plot of the movie (although subsequent viewings of the film you will find these holes are addressed, although very subtly). The film itself is from renowned Studio Ghibli, and from the legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki. Even if for some reason you dislike the film, it would be hard to argue that it is not a masterwork of beautiful animation.

Our Teen picks span the genre and heaviness spectrum, with thought provoking parables of history like in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, or a taste of the struggles on young adulthood in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and of course, there's a healthy dose of romance in the list as well.

The Stardust book/movie pairing is a duo I frequently recommend to readers of YA and adult fantasy alike. The story is whimsical, with plenty of romance and adventure to satisfy most every reader. The movie is just as delightful, with a few big name actors and plenty of room for laughs, it's a duo that usually goes down well.

Last but not least we have some picks for adults, with books and films branching out into different times and lands. Some of these films take extreme liberties (anyone that undertakes the book/movie of Annihilation will understand my meaning) with the stories they're based on, while others blend the lines between the book and film.

In particular I want to highlight The Help, both the book and the movie, as interesting works of art and film but also as a duo that blend the lines. A fun fact - Octavia Spencer plays the maid Minny Jackson in the film, and in the audiobook edition Spencer also narrate's Minny's part of the story. I think the part of these films that is most astonishing to me, however, is that the time of Jim Crow Laws was such a short time ago. The Civil Rights movement and the figures behind it make it an inspiring period in time, and digesting the book and movie of The Help is a decent start to any individual's examination of race relations in the USA; although, digging deeper is integral to getting the facts as at the end of the day The Help is a work of fiction, and should be read/viewed with a critical eye as it also comes with tropes that aren't always helpful in the fight to attain racial equity.



While there are countless more books to movies out there, perhaps this list highlights some transitions you may have missed. Regardless, surely there is a book/film pair in this list that will help the bookworm transform to film buff, or vice versa. Enjoy!

If you're looking for more ways to participate in Summer Learning, leave a book review on Beanstack (the site that powers our Summer Learning program). There is a chance we may feature your review in an upcoming blog! You can also check out other great recommendations on our Staff Picks Page

Blog Category
Adult Fiction

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