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5 Children’s Books That Would Make Great Films for Adults

Toby Shuster / Monday, December 14, 2009 Comments Off
Fantastic Mr. Fox and Crew

Fantastic Mr. Fox and Crew

Despite what the folks in Hollywood think, some books should just remain books. But certain adaptations of children’s stories help to renew our enthusiasm for forgotten or overlooked titles. Most recently, Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox was brought to the big screen by Wes Anderson. Using exceedingly vivid stop-motion animation, Anderson rewrote the classic for adults with Noah Baumbauch.

The film works so well because it focuses on childlike themes of the story, such as sibling rivalry, while incorporating very adult elements such as poverty and emotional failings laced with self-effacing humor. Below is a list of five children’s books that would also make a successful jump to film with a newfound adult perspective.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad DayAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst: This story features a series of events in which Alexander gets screwed over at every turn by his brothers, classmates, and lima beans.  From an adult’s perspective, it would undoubtedly be interesting to reminisce on the trivialities that drive Alexander mad. Everybody knows what it feels like to have a bad day, but what if you couldn’t even tie your own shoes? Bring in Woody Allen to direct.


The Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Hunger Caterpillar by Eric Carle: Sure there are only 225 actual words in this visual classic, but look what they did with Where the Wild Things Are (338 words). There are a number of different directions that could be taken with this one, but a visceral story put in the hands of a director like Michel Gondry could be both a feast for the eyes and a dark allegory for gluttony.



Goodnight MoonGoodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: Who knew that Goodnight Moon was the story of an obsessive compulsive boy who has to say goodnight to every trifling object in his entire bedroom? In 3D, of course, so you can actually reach out and say goodnight, too. (If 3D is what you’re into, anyway.)




Mrs. Piggle-WiggleMrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald: A charming lady lives in an upside down house and uses a magical treasure chest of cures –bequeathed by her pirate husband – to rid the neighborhood children of their bad habits. This isn’t already a Hollywood movie? If Garfield can get made, then they can do Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.





Frog and Toad Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel: The poignant, sometimes existential, exploits of Frog and his friend Toad, two dapper amphibians wearing blazers, are the perfect characters for a dry and witty take on par with Fantastic Mr. Fox. Let indie darling David O. Russell direct and have the chance to revive his struggling career in the same way that Wes Anderson did.

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More: Books / Movies
  • SC

    What a great post!

    Nice David O. Russell reference — where’s he been all these years?

  • claire

    I’m totally on board with Frog and Toad, but Goodnight Moon is too bowl of mush centric for me and would probably induce stress memories of having to read that book 50 times in a row, daily, as a nanny.

  • Gary

    Personally I’d love to see The Phantom Tollbooth come to screen, I loved that book as a kid. I agree, Goodnight Moon maybe a little smaltzy, but it could make for a good adventure story if they took massive liberties with it.

    Didn’t they already do the hungry caterpillar? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9_vpjYiROU

  • http://www.globalsportsfraternity.com HPL

    Great list…and I’d absolutely love to see a Woody Allen directed Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Can you imagine the neuroses? That would definitely be a hilarious film from an older perspective.

  • http://lampstore.com lss

    Nice post, and I’m totally in agreement bout getting these great works out to as many as possible. But….Is NOTHING sacred? How/Who could possibly improve upon the dust jackets, illustrations, and of course, the simple, eloquent writing of these classics? What will be left to read before bedtime?

  • liz

    Yes! Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. Wanted to adapt this for my adaptation class. Was shot down.

  • Jenny

    Great post! I loved all of these books growing up, especially Frog and Toad. I’d like to see that made into a film. I agree with you on Goodnight Moon in 3D, that would be very cool.

  • http://bookshopstop.com/?p=718 Online Book Store and News – In the News: Palin Goes Home, Reading Pol Pot

    [...] Would “Goodnight Moon” make a good movie? [...]

  • opelske

    I hate to see them turn Goodnight Moon into some modern psycho idiocy. Obsessive Compulsive disorder?? Really! How about a little boy who loved and respected just about everything in life, plants, toys, everything. Everything was real to him – he was expressing himself and using his imagination. Obsessive compulisve disorder is a neuroglogical disorder that affects the way a person thinks and acts. We have to stop labelling every single thing we do. This is nonsense.

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