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Book into Film Pairings, Part 2

As I mentioned last week, filmed adaptation of books look more plentiful and promising for 2009 than they have in the recent past. Now is the time to prepare, so your group can read the book before the film arrives. Of course release dates shift, and chances are that many of these films will be shifted to other dates. Other films will prove to be stinkers, but even comparing a bad work to a good one can be fun!

InkheartJanuary of next year starts with two movies that have been pushed back. Inkheart is an adaptation of Cornelia Funke’s entertaining young adult fantasy. Set in a world where characters from stories can be read into life by certain readers (and conversely, people can be read into the fictional worlds), this book has plenty to say about the power of storytelling in our lives. Featuring bookbinders, collectors, storytellers and literary characters, Funke’s series of three books should entertain adults as well as children. The films stars folks like Brendan Fraser, Helen Mirren, and Andy Serkis and is set for January 23rd.


The same day should see the limited release of Killshot, based on the work of the frequently adapted Elmore Leonard. The film features Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke. Previous Leonard adaptations have resulted in successful films like Hombre, Get Shorty, and Out of Sight. Expect Leonard’s signature blend of interesting characters, clever dialogue, dark humor and quirky situations in this tale of a witness protection program gone awry.

CoralineFebruary brings Coraline, an adaptation of one of the popular Neil Gaiman’s most underappreciated works. Illustrated by Dave McKean, this graphic novel for children will appeal, as Gaiman puts it, to “strange little girls of all ages and genders.” It’s the story of a girl, who largely ignored by her parents, discovers an alternate version of herself in an alternate world. The films stars Dakota Fanning and the stop-motion animation of the same director who made The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Also scheduled that month is the adaptation of Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic. The book is the kind of plot-driven fun that can be tough for book groups, but adding comparison to a film will enhance discussion. This chick-lit sensation, which launched a successful series, might prove a successful light, Valentine-themed selection in a short month. The films stars up-and-coming Isla Fisher but features supporting turns from great character actors like Joan Cusack, John Goodman, John Lithgow, and Kristin Scott Thomas, to name just a few.

WatchmenMarch brings the long-awaited adaptation of Alan Moore’s and Dave Gibbons’s graphic masterpiece, Watchmen. This is one of the comic books that brought the genre beyond the attention of children and my friends on the geek squad, landing in such elite spots as Time magazine’s list of the best novels of the 20th century. It’s a dark alternate history of all-too realistic “superheroes” (only one of whom has real powers) in an ugly but believable world. Delayed by legal wrangles, it will be interesting to see if the film maintains the dark tone of its source.

 The Soloist

The last major adaptation of the spring arrives is scheduled for April. It’s The Soloist, based on journalist Steve Lopez’s nonfiction work of the same name. Lopez discovered a former violin prodigy living homeless on the street. Undertaking to bring him back from the streets, he didn’t expect the changes it would make in his own life. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx play the two leads in the film.

My list for 2009 is already getting long. Come back to Book Group Buzz in the next two weeks for descriptions of the works adapted for films that will be released in the summer and fall of 2009.



About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

1 Comment on "Book into Film Pairings, Part 2"

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  1.' Frank Baker says:

    Teaching with films, adapted from popular books, is another great way to meet state standards and help students under the “language of film.” From creating scripts, film posters and storyboards, there are number of engaging activities for students. Details are on my Media Literacy website. Frank Baker, consultant/author/professional development trainer

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