Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dilemma about 'Will's Excellent Adventure'

There is nothing like being in a school library before school starts.
Teachers start coming in, long before their contracts start, to set up their rooms and begin planning for the year to come. Even though the librarians start work a week before the teachers, there is precious little time to work for the library itself which is why I found myself cataloging a load of new material for a very busy librarian at an elementary school this week.

The librarian at this school runs a fun "Books to Movies" reading club every year. She was telling me of her plans to use The Dark is Rising as her first book in conjunction with the movie The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, aka Will's Excellent Adventure, when it comes out.

Wow, have you heard about the brouhaha surrounding the movie I ask?

I ended up feeling badly because she is now pondering using another book to start the year. I don't think she has read the story yet so I told her not to decide until she had.

The club is really popular so it would be a chance for lots of kids to experience Cooper's work. Maybe learning that the movies are not faithful conveyors of a beloved story is a good thing to teach kids.
Maybe it is not so bad to reward feckless studios who are counting on librarians to promote their offerings in scenarios just like this one?
Maybe the movie is going to be so alien from the storyline that it will not spoil the book for them.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I probably wouldn't have felt badly. I probably would have exploded in rage, actually, which seems to be what happens when anyone mentions encouraging people to see the movie because it's "based" on the books. Fair shake for the book? I wonder. As far as I can tell, they've ripped away all the best aspects from the text and put an unnecessary American spin on something to draw in Harry Potter crazed teens. (can I fly? whoosh? lol! I wanted to gouge my eyes out.)

My worry would be: would the kids be reading the whole sequence and then seeing the movie? Because if not, I think that is cheating the books. It's a quest sequence, and the quest (reading all the books) is rather the point. If they read the book and the movie turns then completely off the story...will they finish? Will the shoddy, Americanized version attach itself to them and if they try to finish, will they be disappointed in the books?

I have a very love/hate relationship with Hollywood.

The movie has the bad fanfiction quality--and I'm sorry to say, I know fans that have created derivative works for the sequence that are more faithful to the actual story that Cooper told us. It's boggling to me that the creators of this film, with all their money and influence couldn't do better for this than an average fan writing for fun. I don't feel comfortable promoting the movie to anyone.

tl;dr, sorry. The movie was one reason I read these books (that looks sort of cool) and I've spent most of my time annoyed that the trailer misled me. It's a button!

Unknown said...

That's a really hard one. It would expose more kids to the book, and I think giving kids the chance to compare a the movie adaptation to the book, especially in the context of a discussion, would be a good thing. But, boy, I'd hate to support the movie studio with ticket dollars on this one!

tanita✿davis said...

My vote? Use it.
I do this with my sibs, say, "Okay, we read this book, remember this didn't happen? Remember THAT never happened? Why do you think they did that? Which do you like better?"

They don't always go the High Holy Road of Book Over Movie, but I have found it to be such a good interaction with them.

My two cents.

Anonymous said...

Kids already know that movies change things. Kids who could read The Dark is Rising Sequence can likely read (and have probably read) some Harry Potter. And if they've seen the movies, they know that stuff gets changed or left out. So I don't see the big deal.

(The only pitfall I see to introducing kids to the books is that eventually, they'll read Silver on the Tree, and then they'll hit the ending and be upset by the concluding "device." (Or maybe that was just me?

Unknown said...

Don't feel bad. Sometime people really need to know things like this.

I think it's a great club idea that she's doing.

Saints and Spinners said...

Kelly-- I too was upset by the concluding device, and felt that it cheated the characters and the readers in an otherwise captivating fantasy. If I ever did a thesis on children's literature, it would be on memory and forgetting.