Jessica Day George

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Get a Clue!

Girls and boys, it's time for another edition of Book-to-Movie Adaptation Travesty! Wahoo! This week's entry: "Get a Clue!" based on the superb Newbery Award winner "The Westing Game". The movie, apparently a made for tv jobbie, is so awful that the DVD cover doesn't have anything to do with the movie. Yes, the movie bears no relation to the book, and the cover of the DVD bears no relation to the movie! I guess the cover designer was trying to distance himself from the movie by putting a girl who was not a cast member on the cover, and surrounding her with things that didn't happen in the book or the movie! Now that's bad! But again I say: why oh why did they have to do this? Why? The Westing Game is not a long book that needs condensing. In fact, I would have thought you could use the actual text as the screenplay, it's just that ripe for filming. But instead they hacked out characters, changed motives, inexplicably made Turtle's podiatrist/bookie father into an unemployed stockbroker and other completely arbitrary changes. Theo and Chris Theodorakis were combined to produce one good-looking boy in a wheelchair, who lived alone. Yep, a handicapped teenager who had his own sweet apartment, had trouble buttoning his own shirt in one scene and yet lived alone. It was ludicrous. Gone was the cleverness, the twists, the snappy dialog. In its place was a pantheon of characters so broadly written and woodenly acted as to seem cartoonish. And who were these actors? Ray Walston. Diane Ladd. Shane West. People you expect better from. (Well, Shane West was awfully young, so we'll excuse him.) But Diane Ladd!? Good golly, it was bad stuff. I think I may have to go read the real, true and original "Westing Game", just to cleanse my palate. Then I may need a bit of a lie down. Then I think I'll reread "The Tattooed Potato and other Clues" another fine book from Ellen Raskin.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Good books

So this week I rediscovered my love for Meg Cabot. I was little underwhelmed by Princess in Training, but the Birthday Fairy brought me "Size 12 is not Fat", the first of her Heather Wells mysteries. So fabulous! I love the idea of the former teen popstar on her own, older, chubbier, and looking for her niche. And the mystery was fun too. Two thumbs way up for that book! And for the younger set: M.T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales: Whales on Stilts! A hilarious book about a nefarious plot to take over the world, thwarted by an ordinary young girl and her two best friends. One of them is the star of a "Sky Captain", 1930's style series of books, "Jasper Dash: Boy Technonaut", and the other is the star of a series of Goosebumps-like horror books for tweens. So funny! Anderson manages to incorporate the chatty, knowing narrator and funny descriptions and definitions that Lemony Snicket is fond of in a much subtler and more effective way. Hooray for Cabot and Anderson!

Roll your Rrrrr's!

My 'R' is broken! Isn't that terrible? The 'R' on my laptop keyboard has become very hard to type. You have to press down, very firmly, to make it work. It's quite annoying, because I like to type fast, and I will look back and see that I've typed something like: "Ose woked vey had." Instead of "Rose worked very hard." So frustrating. You don't realize how many words have 'R' in them until you have trouble typing them! Look at how many words just in this blog have R's! It reminds me "Ella Minnow Pea", the superb book by Mark Dunn about an island where letters of the alphabet are outlawed one by one as they fall off the statue of the town's founder. I recommend that book most highly, it's an epistolary novel (a series of letters), and the characters have to stop using the forbidden letters until by the end of the book, they are hardly able to communicate at all. A wonderful book!

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Ruiner

We have a little honorary title for Anne Hathaway at our house: The Ruiner. I know, it's not fair. The poor girl isn't a bad actress, it's just that she's been in some terrible, terrible adaptations of books. She's a good actress, really, but I can't think of anyone who has so consistently been in literary adaptations, which have so consistently been total hack jobs. For instance, The Princess Diaries. Here is a book so funny that I was crying with laughter when I first read it. I got absolutely nothing done that day, I was so caught up in that book. So they make a movie. So they change everything that was funny about the book: her grandmother is no longer an evil chain-smoking sociopath. Her father is inexplicably dead, and she and her friend Lilly are not being chased through the streets of Manhattan by Lilly's stalker, which was hilarious (the guy wants to see Lilly's feet). All gone. Terrible movie. Then they made a sequel, which was not based on any of the books and not written by author Meg Cabot, who cleverly got her revenge by addressing the movies in the book. Yes, at one point Lilly and Mia discuss the movies that have been made about Mia, and how the latest one was "Totally fictional, what were they thinking?" Ah, the perfect literary revenge. So I completely avoided "Ella Enchanted", having seen from the previews that it seemed to have nothing to do with the book. I caught a few minutes of it this weekend on tv, and was frozen in horror. What corny, pun-laden, flatulence filled garbage! The book is so darling, so clever and sweet and funny . . . it won a Newbery award for heaven's sake! Why would you tamper with source material of such high caliber? What was gained? Nothing. Some troll fart jokes and a drunken, lecherous elf? Was that really worth it? Word for word that book would have made a fabulous movie: fun, exciting, romantic. Why did it have to be ruined? Why, why, why? I used to say that if I got paid a lot of money, I'd be fine with changes to a book I wrote, after all, it's good press and would push book sales. But I don't think there's enough money in the world to make up for what happened to Gail Carson Levine. Oh, Gail, I'm so sorry!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I know I haven't blogged in forever and a day, and I'm sorry. I'm also aware that no one aside from my husband ever reads this blog (Hi, honey!), but I like to keep up the fiction that someone else out there does read it. So here is your blog of the day: I've just opened up a shiny new document in Word, and I'm starting a shiny new sequel to Dragon Slippers! I know it's early days for anyone to be excited or even interested in a sequel to Dragon Slippers, seeing as the book hasn't even come out yet, but I find it exciting. Since the day I started Dragon Slippers, I've always sworn that there wouldn't be a sequel, that I had no ideas whatsoever for what to do with Creel and Co. after that. But the other day, while mentioning this to my husband (Hi, honey!) I suddenly was struck by lightning, and I'm now embarking on what will probably be a project fraught with peril and tears and laughter and me dancing around in my socks going, "AAAAHHH! Now what?!" And away we go!