Picture Book / Movie Pairings: They Make Sense in My Head!
The other day I was sitting with a group of talented children’s librarians discussing Dan Santat’s Are We There Yet? Boy, I tell ya, there’s nothing like sitting down with smart people to hear them discuss a picture book in full. I walked out of that room with a lot more knowledge crammed into my cranium than I’d had coming in.
In the course of our talk, it was pointed out that Santat’s latest would actually pair very well with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. There’s something about the tone of both the book and the film, that madcap good-natured energy, that jells. And so, in that vein, I present to you one of my odder posts. Picture book and movie pairings. I have absolutely no idea when you’d actually want to pair the two together. I just like the couplings.
Are We There Yet? + Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Granted, there are a lot less pirates in Bill & Ted. But the idea of traveling through history and gathering a wacky crew of folks along the way . . . that’s awesome.
The Cat and the Hat + Risky Business
Apropos of nothing, the other day a woman in my library mentioned to me that she’d always been discomforted by Seuss’s classic easy reader. There was something about the chaos of it all that really got to her. She likened it to Risky Business, which I thought was a particularly amusing pairing. In both cases a house experiences chaos and clean-up. And in both cases you really don’t want to be in trouble with mom. The big difference between the two is that Seuss’s book ends with a question about what YOU would do if your mother asked YOU what you got up to while she was gone. Tom Cruise suffers no such dark night of the soul.
Are You My Mother + Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
I’ve often gone on record saying that P.D. Eastman’s classic feels like a somewhat post-apocalyptic wasteland. Admittedly this comparison to Thunderdome isn’t perfect because there are no mothers in that movie (nor any sentient machines). Still, in both cases you have motherless children, and some crazy technology, so I’d say the pairing holds.
Frog and Toad Are Friends + Elling
This one makes a lot of sense to me. The nature of the relationship between a laid back frog and an uptight toad pairs just beautifully with this charming if admittedly somewhat obscure 2001 Norwegian film. I just see a lot of parallels between Elling and Kjell and Frog and Toad. For a while there Kevin Spacey was going to remake it here in America. It didn’t work out, but if Spacey ever wants to consider taking the role of Toad instead, I think he’d be perfect for it.
Outside Over There + Labyrinth
Cheating. This one’s cheating. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that Labyrinth was inspired, in part, by the lesser known of the Sendak picture book trilogy (the first two books being Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen). Sendak is even thanked at the end of the credits so there’s that as well. I don’t really have to explain why the book and movie are related. Goblins and stolen babies = children’s classics no matter what the media.
The Little House + Up
That’s a good pairing. In both cases the house is moved in the wake of incessant industrialization. However, if I can remember the ending of Up, the house in Burton’s book fares far better.
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble + Being John Malkovich
Yes? No? Am I the only one who sees this? I think it’s the idea of being awake and alert and trapped in a situation where you’ll never be able to escape on your own. So maybe I should have said Sylvester and the Magic Pebble and the END of Being John Malkovich.
Blueberries for Sal and Grizzly Man
ACK! That’s no good. Abort! Abort!
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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