Blockbusting books featured at the school library

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 30, 2014

Anyone who has been to the movies lately has noticed the trend of children’s books being made into blockbuster films. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling was a forerunner after being made into separate movies and the trend has continued with Rick Riordan’s Lightening Thief, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight. Most recently, Veronica Roth’s Divergent was released over this past weekend. Students have anxiously awaited its release and the second installment, Insurgent, is set for release next year.
Most movies differ, sometimes significantly, from the book, so fans of the movies should definitely plan on going back and reading the book. I keep a list of children’s, middle grade, and young adult books that are soon to be released as movies and some of the most popular are reviewed below. It’s also not too late to go back and reread and then watch some of the oldies but goodies, like the Harry Potter series.
The trend of children’s books being made into movies speaks well to the quality of children’s literature that is being published today. Adults follow a series as closely as their children do and reading becomes a family event as parents and children anxiously await the next release, whether it is the book or movie. Adults can read the book first with their child; then quality discussion can occur after viewing the movie.
One caution, though, is that some of the books are intended for older and more mature readers. Parents should at least skim through the books to make sure they feel the material is suitable for their child. After reading the book and seeing the movie, you can then compare and contrast the plot, discuss favorite scenes that were left out (or changed), discuss whether or not characters looked as you imagined them, discuss the scenery of the movie and how it added to the plot….the list could go on forever! By the way, these questions are all types of thinking that are covered and encouraged by the common core standards!

“The Giver by Lois Lowry” – First published over twenty years ago, Lowry’s dystopian novel is still as popular today as it was when it won the Newbery Medal in 1994. It set the standard for newer books like The Hunger Games that tell stories of societies gone against the beliefs we hold today. Jonas becomes the receiver of the memories for the Giver at his community’s Ceremony of 12. Jonas learns the power of knowledge as he discovers that the society he thought was ideal is not. The Giver and Jonas gradually come to understand the brutality of their world and plot to change things. The movie is set for release in August.

“The Maze Runner” by James Dashner – This first installment in yet another dystopian series finds Thomas waking up in the middle of a maze and having no idea how he got there. He discovers other boys in the glade and learns there are horrible creatures outside their survivalist community that will destroy them if they attempt to escape. Thomas and the other Gladers, including a girl who was delivered with the message “She is the last one,” try to find a way out. Set for release in September, this harrowing tale will be popular with fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green – This modern romance intended for older readers will have you laughing hysterically one minute and crying the next. Hazel, a stage 4 thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her fate until she meets Augustus at a children’s cancer support group meeting and they fall in love. Hazel’s obsession with a novel about cancer called This Imperial Affliction sends her and Augustus on a journey to Amsterdam to meet its author. They examine the true meaning of life, love, and death as they make the reader do the same. While Hazel and Augustus may not be able to escape the fate in their stars, they demonstrate a strong will to make the most of what you do have. The Fault in Our Stars is set for release in early June.

Books for younger children are also destined for soon-to-be released movies. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is set for release in October. Alexander is having the worst day ever but is consoled by the fact that everyone has bad days and he will survive his too. Paddington Bear is set to make his movie debut in a live-action movie based on the entire book series. The always polite English Paddington will be computer generated and will make his appearance in December. Other stories set for movies to be released at the end of 2014 or early 2015 include a new live-action Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and a modern remake of Annie. My granddaughter and I saw the previews for Annie, staring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz, last week and this is a must see for us!

Torey Yates is the librarian at Warren Central Junior High. She spent more than 16 years in the classroom before receiving a master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in library and information science and moving to the library in 2004.