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Will the book be better? Five upcoming film adaptations

Which is better, book or film? The debate continues
tpl-books to movies

A lot of our job takes place in the actual library environment (makes sense). Outside of that, we also provide some pop-ups, class visits, a bit of outreach, and – most importantly – valuable commentary during downtime film viewing such as “That’s not what happened in the book” and “He doesn’t look like that!” Somebody’s got to say it. All the better if it’s a trained professional. That said, we often enjoy viewing our favourite stories come alive on the big screen. Notably excellent adaptations include the entire Harry Potter series, almost anything Roald Dahl, and, of course Mary Poppins (yes, that was a book first – a sentiment we’ve reiterated far too many times). So check out these upcoming releases and see how they stack up.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (film in theatres August 9)

If you prefer not to cry in a public theatre, or prefer not to employ methods such as pinching yourself or mentally reviewing your to-do list so as to attempt not to cry in a public theatre, it’s probably best to skip Stein’s emotionally charged portrait of Enzo, the incredibly lovable canine (and his sometimes lovable family). Published back in 2008, Racing has become somewhat of a cult favourite among book lovers, so it’s actually surprising the film wasn’t in the works sooner. The movie stars Milo Ventimiglia as race car driver Denny Swift (Enzo’s best pal/human companion) and Kevin Costner as the voice of Enzo himself (yes, Enzo narrates the story, but - and this is key - he is NOT a talking dog). Enzo understands life, he understands human interaction, he is a good listener, and yes, an excellent boy. He crafts infinitely quotable analogies between racing cars and living life that will reveal in both a beauty and rhythm you never knew existed. So, the best scenario is they “get it right,” but in any case, this should be an enjoyable film for the whole family.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz (film in theatres August 9)

A few things to know about Scary Stories: 1. It is one of the many titles to sit on the ever-lengthening list of Banned Books (i.e. someone, somewhere has challenged its place in the public literary canon – often unnecessarily, and usually more than once), 2. The book is essentially a collection of folklore, retold and twisted by Alvin Schwartz, and 3. If you’re going to try to score a copy, make sure it’s the famed 1981 version with the skull disguised as a hill smoking a pipe (yep, that was okay for a piece of children’s literature in the ‘80s). Often touted as *the* version (agreed), this edition was illustrated by Stephen Gammell, and most certainly contributed to its reputation as too spooky for a younger generation. Perhaps it was. And yet we somehow turned out okay. So the real question is whether we’ll get the devilishly exciting ghoulish gore or a more family-friendly version when this one hits theatres.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (film in theatres August 16)

Much like the elusive big screen version of Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, this was a film that almost seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. Originally scheduled to be released in March, and starring Cate Blanchett as the title character (perfect casting, by the way), this comic, quirky, and timely tale deserves to be experienced on as many platforms as possible, so we’re pretty excited that the day is nearly here. In the midst of preparing a trip to Antarctica (okay, outsourcing the preparation of a trip to Antarctica) on account of her daughter Bee’s perfect grades, smart, eccentric, opinionated, eccentric (yep, we meant that twice) Bernadette Fox up and disappears. But before you think this is some kind of Gone Girl situation, it is decidedly not. This is not a crime drama or a psychological thriller, but more of a bumpy family satire (if that at all counts as genre). Brimming with wit and impossibly funny scenes that you either really get or quizzically scratch your head at, this movie is destined to garner equally mixed reactions from its viewing audience. We know what side we’ll be on. Unless, of course, something goes horribly “off book.”

It by Stephen King (Chapter Two in theatres September 6)

It has been two years since the release of the first King film of the same name (the second installment will cover the second half of the novel). It has also been two years since we painstakingly designed a life-size Pennywise replica to complement our Stephen King display here at TPL and had to promptly take it down on account of it being “too scary.” Yep, you read that correctly. It doesn’t take much to be a rebellious librarian. And we regret nothing. Except perhaps the unfortunate positioning in which he could only face directly into the children’s department. These things happen. The second film installment is set in 2016 (27 years after the first), spans a full two hours and 45 minutes (bring snacks), and Stephen King himself has deemed it “terrific” (now that’s a ringing endorsement). In case this has you wondering, a persistent fear of clowns (which you may soon acquire) is called coulrophobia and considered most irrational (depends on who you ask).

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (film in theatres October 4)

Easy to read fast-paced thrillers that you start at a respectable evening hour and complete in a frenzied stupor approximately 30 minutes before reawakening for work are always a welcome addition to our reading repertoire. Now this one in particular was not mind-blowing or genre-breaking, but it was clever, unpredictable, and had enough delightfully devious plot twists to keep us satisfied. And with a notable cast including Amy Adams and Julianne Moore, the film (and its perfectly timed pre-Halloween release) will likely entertain audiences in much the same way. For anyone wondering, this is an adaptation of the 2017 novel and not a remake of the 1944 film. Or any other story in which the witness views a murder from the comfort of their own home. It is apparently a very popular crime witnessing location. Window gazers beware.