Children’s books that grew into great films

Image: Nariece Sanderson

1. Harry Potter: Is it possible to deny ‘the boy who lived’? JK Rowling’s fabulous book series about the boy wizard captured the attention of children and adults. Truly imaginative and vivid, the series was a game changer for the book industry. Almost two decades since the first book, and we have a blisteringly successful franchise starring the likes of Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes and Maggie Smith. This has led to immense popularity; spawning a theme park and a wonderful studio tour. If you fancy experiencing how the magic of the films was created, I recommend that you head on over to the Students’ Union’s Give It A Go page!

2. Coraline: Neil Gaiman’s short novel takes on a new lease of life under Henry Selick’s direction. With dazzling stop-animation and quirky characters, we follow Coraline (Dakota Fanning) from a drab existence to a mysterious realm in which she meets her ‘other parents’. Bruno Coulais’ movie soundtrack is mesmerising, capturing the eerie magic of Gaiman’s characters. Including the voice talents of Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders; Coraline is a creepy hit for the family.

3. A Series of Unfortunate Events: After settling down with your popcorn, you may be slightly baffled. Have you found yourself watching The Littlest Elf? Don’t panic! Assuredly, you are watching a film based on Lemony Snicket’s first three books of the series. Jude Law narrates a dark comedy about the Baudelaire orphans’ struggle to escape Count Olaf (Jim Carrey). A visual treat, and Carrey’s performance is the perfect interpretation of Snicket’s villain. This film should pique your interest in the Baudelaires in time for the new series on its way to Netflix.

4. How To Train Your Dragon: Dreamworks manage to redeem themselves after some long-winded franchises. They took on Cressida Cowell’s popular series, which got an animated revamp starring Gerard Butler and Jay Baruchel. With this movie you can soar above the clouds and meet a motley crew of Vikings. Along the way, an unlikely friendship between Hiccup (Baruchel) and a dragon leads to some interesting consequences for all. This film is light-hearted, very funny and possibly one of the best animated films in a long time. The sequel is also worth a watch… but will the third instalment of the franchise be a step too far for Hiccup and friends?

5. Matilda: Roald Dahl is known world-wide as one of the most loved authors of children’s books, with many of his works having been made into films. Matilda, made using wit and charm, was directed by and stars Danny DeVito. We see intelligent Matilda (Mara Wilson) take on the ignorant adults in her life using a very special skill. The characters in the movie are really something to behold as well, when Pam Ferris plays a terrifying Mrs Trunchball. It is also full of unforgettable moments, such as when Bruce Bogtrotter has to tackle a ginormous amount of chocolate cake! Currently, there’s an equally amazing musical adaptation of Matilda on in London that you can sink your teeth into.

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Children’s books that grew into great films