Last week, we rolled our eyes at the news that Adam Mansbach’s much-buzzed-about children’s book Go the Fuck to Sleep is being adapted into a film. After all, though it seems like every kids’ book ever has been produced for the big screen, there are still many great ones that haven’t been — and that would make much better cinematic fodder than a book that is mostly the published cry of an overworked parent. After the jump, our list of ten amazing kids’ books that should definitely be made into films before Go the Fuck to Sleep (but we’d settle for after, too).
Outside Over There, Maurice Sendak
Forget Where The Wild Things Are. Well, wait, only rhetorically, but still — Outside Over There is probably our favorite of Sendak’s works. Whimsical and scary, the book is a big sister’s journey to find her baby sister, stolen by goblins who replace her with an ice baby and seek to marry her. The cinematic possibilities are endless. Note: we’d also love to see In the Night Kitchen on the big screen, but with all that nudity, it’d probably be rated X.
The Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer
We’re really not sure why these books aren’t a huge movie franchise yet — they’re huge, wickedly clever bestsellers about a teenage criminal genius who kidnaps fairy police captains, puts down goblin rebellions, and solves every puzzle that comes his way. It’s like if Harry Potter had a backbone. Also: eight books, people. That is cash money. What’s the hold up?
Tales From Outer Suburbia, Shaun Tan
All of Shaun Tan’s books are devastatingly beautiful, and we’d only want to see them turned into films if the filmmakers could maintain their ethereal, gold-tinged glow. That said, we adore the strange mini-stories of Tales From Outer Suburbia, and think they could form an incredibly surreal movie about the strangeness in the center of our world. If translating all those vignettes into a single narrative turns out to be too hard, we’ll accept an adaptation of The Arrival.
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
All right, we know there’s a filmed version of this already, but it’s a really bad made-for-TV movie — and the book is such a classic that we can’t bring ourselves to count it. Plus, when Madeleine L’Engle was asked if it met her expectations, she shrugged, “Oh, yes. I expected it to be bad, and it is.” We must do better, for Madeleine L’Engle and for the world. Oh, and ditto A Wizard of Earthsea.
The Wreck of the Zephyr, Chris Van Allsburg
Chris Van Allsburg has already had success with a few film adaptations (The Polar Express, Jumanji), and we’d happily lead a campaign to get all of his books translated to the big screen. Next up should be the luminous The Wreck of the Zephyr, wherein a young boy learns to sail his boat through the skies.
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
More irreverent, slightly dark adaptations of classic fairy tales, please. We can never get enough, especially if written by the brilliant and twisted Jon Scieszka. After all, it’s high time someone heard the wolf’s side…
The Pushcart War, Jean Merrill
This classic story of little vs. big is out of print, but we bet that with a snazzy film adaptation it would resurge with a bang louder than a popped truck tire. Besides, we’d love to see how the story could be updated from ’70s pushcarts to the more modern, hip food trucks of today’s New York.
I Want My Hat Back, Jon Klassen
All right, so this one doesn’t have much of a plot either, but it sure is hilarious and perfectly irreverent. Toss in a few extra adventures to get between head and hat, and you’ve got yourself a movie.
The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein
This is another classic that would have to be interpreted generously by any filmmaker brave enough to take it on. May we suggest a completely metaphorical adaptation in a heavily forested land? Hey, all we know is that if they can do Go the Fuck to Sleep, they can do The Giving Tree. In the meantime, we can all watch this.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Louis Sachar
Apparently, there’s some woefully janky-looking animated version of this already out there, but we’re afraid that’s just not going to cut it. Sachar’s surrealist Holes has already been adapted for humans on the big screen, and we think the wacky, weird, mind-boggling Wayside School series should be next. It will disturb and entertain in equal measure. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.