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Star-Telegram.com

Kids' books pack enough inspiration for TV, movie adaptations

Posted Thursday, Mar. 08, 2012

By Lisa Smant

Special to the Star-Telegram

Great children's and teen fiction books are on their way to a movie theater near you. A big-screen version of the Dr. Seuss' classic The Lorax scored big at the box office last weekend, and the much-anticipated chilling teen adventure The Hunger Games will arrive in a couple weeks. Let's explore some favorite children's books that also have been made into movies. Some can be seen at the movie theater, and some are available for checkout at your local library.

The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins

Scholastic, 2008

For teens

The first of the futuristic trilogy introduces readers to Katniss and Peeta, who live in Panem, the former North America. Two children from each of Panem's districts are chosen annually by lottery to compete in a televised fight to the death. Katniss and Peeta know each other from school, and Peeta once gave Katniss bread to help feed her hungry and poor family. The haven't spoken since, but nevertheless, Katniss and Peeta along with their mentor are on their way to the Capitol, where they work together to formulate the best plan for success. Though their chances of survival are slim, they are put through tremendous beauty and fashion transformations to make them ready for television.

Finally it is time for the Games to begin. At first Katniss and Peeta do not work together, especially after Peeta declares his love for Katniss in a pre-Game interview. Katniss feels this is an attempt to win audience favor, but when the games begin and competition rules are changed, Katniss begins to wonder whether his feelings are real.

This book has won numerous awards and is expected to be a big hit at the box office. The themes may seem dark at first, but the story is full of hope and love.

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

By Megan McDonald

Candlewick Press, 2011

For ages 7-10

This book is actually based on the movie that came out last year, but there is also a whole "Judy Moody" series of books by the same author that are just as enjoyable. In this adventure, third-grader Judy is anticipating a summer of fun with her friends and family, but when her two best friends take summer vacations and her parents have to leave unexpectedly, Judy is left with her friend Frank, her Mom's sister Opal and her brother Stink, who is spending the summer trying to trap Bigfoot. Will Judy's summer be totally wasted or will she be able to have some fun?

Fans of Junie B. Jones will enjoy the zany adventures that Judy and her friends get involved in. And readers will relate to Judy, who makes the most of her summer, even when plans change.

Holes

By Louis Sachar

Dell Laurel-Leaf, 1998

For ages 10-14

This Newbery Medal winner was made into a movie in 2003 and is one of the most beloved children's books of recent time. Middle-school student Stanley Yelnats is headed to Camp Green Lake. Unfortunately, the camp is no summer escape -- it is a boys' detention center. Stanley's family, thanks to his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather," has been under a curse for many generations, which is why he has been wrongfully convicted as a criminal and sent away.

Stanley tries to adjust to his new life, but realizes something is not quite right. Every day the detainees get up before daybreak to dig holes 5 feet wide and deep. Even on Saturday and Sunday! Stanley is sure that the warden is looking for something, but can he convince his new friends that the warden is seeking the lost treasure of Kissin' Kate Barlow? Will he be able to break the curse that has been on his family for generations? And most of all, will he ever get to go home? This is a funny, quirky book full of adventure and emotion that readers of all ages will enjoy.

Anne of Green Gables

By L.M. Montgomery

Yearling, 1908

For ages 8-12

Who can resist Anne Shirley? The wonderfully imaginative and bright 11-year-old orphan is sent to live with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on Prince Edward Island. Anne -- who insists the "e" be added to the end of her name, though her birth records say otherwise -- arrives at Green Gables only to find out that the Cuthberts were expecting a boy to help out on the farm. Will she be able to use her power of persuasion to convince them to keep her? The Cuthberts are not sure what to do, but as Anne settles into life on Green Gables, Matthew and Marilla have a harder and harder time letting go, despite Anne's temper and knack for getting into trouble. Fans of this title can check out the rest of the series, which follows Anne as she grows up. This series was made into television movies in the 1980s and continues to be a family favorite.

Lisa Smant is assistant manager in the Youth Center at the downtown Fort Worth Library. Look for these books at your local branch.

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