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Children’s stories: Which is better, the book or the movie?

By Erika Kosin
Rowan Public Library
For years, the motion picture industry has been turning popular and award-winning children’s books into movies. With their quick plot lines and simpler characters, these books are easily transformed into a 90-120 minute visual format.
The latest children’s book turned movie is “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” due out this month, based on the popular book series by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.How closely do these Hollywood versions of beloved children’s literature keep to the books they are based on? Well, that depends on the book and the person who writes the screenplay.
The movie “Ella Enchanted” (2004) starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy was based on the Newbery honor book of the same title by Gail Carson Levine, first published in 1997. An interesting twist on the Cinderella fairy tale, it explains Ella’s willingness to do chores and other tasks because of the gift of obedience she was given as a baby by the fairy Lucinda.
This is where the similarity between book and movie ends. Where the heart and message of the book may be the same, the actual events and plot lines were dramatically altered, much to the dismay of many fans of the book. This would be a good example for kids who feel that watching the movie and reading the book is the same thing and let them decide which is better.
Katherine Paterson’s Newbery award-winning “Bridge to Terabithia” (1977) was turned into a major motion picture in 2007, starring Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb. This heartbreaking story about friendship and loss is set amongst the wonderful imaginations of the two main characters. Hollywood’s most recent translation of this book into a movie kept the heart and story very similar, delighting fans of this classic novel.
Books geared toward young adults also have great plots for transition into movies, but with longer plots and more twists and turns, the stories tend to have more items added to the cutting room floor.
The 2005 movie version of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” (2003) by Ann Brashares was also slightly different from the book. This story is about four friends embarking on their first summer apart. They decide to stay connected by sharing a pair of pants that miraculously fit each of them perfectly despite their different shapes and sizes.
In the book, Lena has a younger sister named Effie who travels with her to Santorini, Greece, for the summer, but the character is completely left out of the movie. If Hollywood doesn’t plan on making a sequel to the first movie, it can go almost unnoticed to those who have not read the book. Fans of the four-part series may be a bit bewildered by Effie’s omission, knowing that she becomes a force to be reckoned with and a major player in the later books.
So which version is better? That all depends on the book and the reader, but it goes to show you that just because you have seen the movie, it doesn’t mean you know the book. As for how “The Spiderwick Chronicles” compares to the book, we will have to wait and see.Let’s Talk About It: The book discussion program on Southern fiction continues at 7 p.m. in the Hurley Room at headquarters every other Thursday. The five titles are “Shiloh,” “The Known World,” “Nowhere Else on Earth,” “Wolf Whistle” and “Song of Solomon.” Call 704-216-8230 to register.Computer classes: Headquarters ó MS Excel Part 2, Monday, 7 p.m.; MS Word Part 2, Thursday, 1:30 p.m.; NCLive Encyclopedia Britannica, Feb. 18, 7 p.m.; NCLive Heritage Quest, Feb. 21, 1:30 p.m. South branch ó Intermediate Excel, Monday, 7 p.m.; Genealogy-Census Records, Feb. 26, 11 a.m.
Children’s programs: Call 704-216-8256 for headquarter programs; 704-216-7839 for East branch; and 704-216-7727 for South branch programs beginning this month.
Displays: Martin Luther King Jr. display by RPL Staff members, corridor by meeting rooms. Headquarters ó Black History by Paulette Maugham and art display by Hilda Robertson. East ó baskets by Lucille Patterson. South ó Boy Scouts by Kenneth Norton.Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.
Web site: www.rowanpubliclibrary.org.

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