Inspired by (or, rather, shamelessly ripped off from) this rather fabulous post on the Middle Grade Strikes Back blog, I’ve been thinking for the past while about MG and YA books which would work fantastically well as movies and/or TV shows. Some of my choices, naturally enough, will overlap with those featured on the MG Strikes Back blog (because the choices there are amazing), but some of them are new and fresh. (Rather unlike me at the moment, it must be said. I’m just back from the doctor’s, where I was diagnosed with a ‘mild upper respiratory tract infection’. Well, that’s all well and good, doc, but it didn’t seem so ‘mild’ last night at 2.37 a.m. when I was awake, coughing up a lung.
But I digress).
So. My first choice of a MG/YA book which would be a fantastic movie or TV show is:
The Predator Cities series, by Philip Reeve
How amazing would these books be on the big screen? I think they’d be best as movies, because there’s just too much spectacle for the small screen. Mechanised moving cities, reanimated corpses, girls with half a face, airships, scavengers, fights to the death… wow. These books have it all, and more. I’d love to see a movie adaptation of this series – and I haven’t even read all the books yet!
The Chaos Walking trilogy, by Patrick Ness
It’s strange how I haven’t reviewed these books on my blog yet, because they’ve been among my favourites for years now. Telling the story of Todd and Manchee, his beloved and faithful dog, as they struggle to overcome tyranny and injustice in the settlement of Prentisstown (where only men live, and where thoughts are audible to all, rendering privacy and peace impossible), and how their lives change when they discover Viola – the first female creature Todd has ever encountered – the books are masterpieces. The strength of the characters, coupled with the scope for fantastic settings, means these books would work incredibly well on screen. I could see this being a successful TV series or a movie. Either way it’s high time I re-read the books!
John Connolly’s Samuel Johnson books
John Connolly is one of the world’s most successful crime/thriller writers, and I love his Charlie Parker series of books for grown-ups about a private eye with a supernatural side. However, his books for MG readers, which tell the tale of Samuel Johnson and his struggle to avoid the clutches of Hell (after a wormhole to that fetid dimension is opened up, accidentally, by his neighbours) are a laugh a minute. Between crazy characters and icky creatures, these books would be a fab TV show. I’d love to see them on a screen.
Emma Pass’ ACID
A heart-thumping blockbuster of a book with a great heroine and an adrenaline-fuelled storyline, this YA novel would make a fantastic movie. It has everything: technology, a futuristic setting, excellent conflict, great characters and enough action to keep everyone happy. I hope Hollywood comes calling for this story, sooner or later.
Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co novels
Ghosts! Ghouls! Murder most foul! Rapiers! Elegant clothing! Fantastical set-pieces! Adventure! Derring-do! Talking skulls! Banter!
Yes. The sooner the better the Lockwood books get a big or small screen outing, in my opinion. I’d love to see raffish Lockwood, bristly Lucy and clever George translated into three dimensions. Not to mention the spirits who share their lives…
Jeanette Winterson’s Tanglewreck
I’m torn between this one and Winterson’s other MG work, The Battle of the Sun, as my choice for a movie/TV adaptation. Ultimately I plumped for this one due to the fact that it’s about time, and the wrangling and rippling thereof, and the struggles to control it – and I’m always a sucker for that sort of thing. It’s peopled with some of the most fabulously named characters (Silver River, Abel Darkwater, Mrs Rokabye) and incredible creatures (including but not limited to a mammoth), and its sheer cleverness means it would be an amazing movie, in the right hands.
Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Arthur novels
Crossley-Holland’s evocative, beautiful, multi-layered stories about Arthur de Caldicot and his attempts to become a knight – while dealing with the legacy of the long-ago heroic King Arthur who shares his name – would be a fabulous TV show. I would love to see the books’ beautiful settings and gorgeous ideas about heroism and growing up translated to a screen.
Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials
Yes, I know there was a movie made based on the first of these majestic books already, and – for some crazy reason – it didn’t do well enough for the other stories to be filmed. Sometimes I wish for a Kickstarter to be set up to fund the making of the second two movies in this series, because I, for one, would love to see how they would turn out. Sadly the young actor who played Lyra so very well in the first movie has long grown up, so the part would have to be recast – but I would give anything to see Nicole Kidman reinhabit her role as the villainous Mrs Coulter. If ever there was an example of perfect casting, that was it! These books are among the best in the world for young readers, and it’s such a shame the movies don’t exist beside them.
Frances Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song
Frankly, I think all of Frances Hardinge’s books would make wonderful films and/or TV shows, and I live in hope that BBC or ITV or some other UK-based network will pick up on this, and immortalise her words for the screen. When thinking about this post, though, it was Cuckoo Song which struck me as being the most immediately suitable for adaptation, perhaps because of its war theme (which is relevant now) and perhaps because of the sheer power of the story. It’s less fantastical than some of her other works (so, possibly, easier to film) but no less impactful. It’s an incredible story which I’d happily pay to see on film.
The Hounds of the Morrígan, by Pat O’Shea
This book is part of my DNA. I love it passionately, even though it’s been well over twenty years since I last read it (and, come to think of it, I have no idea where my copy is). It would work fantastically as a TV show or a movie, though it would have to be sensitively handled to avoid becoming too ‘stage Oirish’; a clever Irish filmmaker could probably do a lot with it. Telling the story of Pidge and his sister Brigit, who become wrapped up in ancient Celtic myth when Pidge comes across a book which contains the spirit of a long-slumbering evil, it’s one of the finest books for children to have come out of Ireland. What a shame its author passed away before completing her sequel – and a bigger shame that this gem of storytelling has largely been forgotten.
So, there you are. No real surprises there! What would be your top 10 MG/YA books – or indeed books from any genre or age group – which you’d love to see turned into movies or TV shows?
EDIT: I remembered last night (midway through a coughing attack) that I’d forgotten one of the books I really wanted to mention in this post. I was going to subtly swap one of the choices above for this one, but then decided I’d prefer to just add it on here instead. That choice is:
Siobhan Dowd, A Swift Pure Cry (or Bog Child, if people prefer)
I love both these books by the late, much-mourned Siobhan Dowd. A Swift Pure Cry, telling the story of a young girl pregnant out of wedlock in an Ireland which is, hopefully, passing into memory, would make an excellent screenplay. Bog Child, linking Ireland’s ancient past with its painful ‘present’ (the book is set in the 1980s, at the height of the Troubles), would also be incredible to watch on the big or small screen. I don’t think either of these stories has ever been adapted for TV, but they really should be. Relevant, punchy, full of guts and heart and emotion, they’d really work well. They’re also fantastic stories, with just a touch of magic and a deep, compassionate humanity at their core. The very best sort of writing, in fact. Someone get on this?