Tuesday 2 June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Middle Grade Books We'd Love To See As A Movie/TV Show

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today, ten of our wonderful Middle Grade Strikes Back contributors have each chosen a book they would love to see made into a TV show or a film on the big screen:

1. Huw Powell: Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve.
This futuristic series of steampunk books is packed with daring deeds, adventure and mystery. The story is fast-paced, gripping and full of colourful characters. It would make a visually stunning movie for an increasingly popular genre. The opening line of the first book is: "It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea."

2. Jim Dean: Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo
I loved the Harry Potter films and The Worst Witch TV series, so would be thrilled to see another of my favourite magical schools brought to life! This series has brilliant characters - focusing on Charlie Bone, who can travel into photographs and pictures, but with a strong supporting cast like Emma Tolly, who can turn into birds, storm-bringer Tancred Torsson, and illusionist Olivia Vertigo. Either as a movie with special effects, or a cartoon reminiscent of so many of my beloved 80s series, this would rock.

3. Tatum Flynn: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
A lot of people where underwhelmed by The Golden Compass film, but I wasn't one of them - I thought it looked absolutely stunning, and that Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman were perfectly cast. It's not an exaggeration to say I was gutted when they didn't make any more. I would pay all the money to see the rest of this enthralling, magical trilogy play out on screen.

4. Paula Harrison: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
I seem to have been praising the brilliance of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase all over various blogs plus twitter for months now! This story would make an amazing film. It has characters drawn with subtlety and brilliance - both baddies and the heroes and heroines. It has tension, a big old house, a brooding snow covered landscape and wolves. Honestly, what are the film directors waiting for!
(Having checked I see there was a version made in 1989. This is no good - we need an up to date movie made!)
Paula Harrison is the author of Red Moon Rising  www.paulaharrison.jimdo.com

5. Cecilia Busby: The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud
Jonathan Stroud is one of those authors who gets co-opted as YA but  I would consider him to be a proper middle-grade children's writer, even if he does have YA (and adult) appeal. The Amulet of Samarkand would make a fabulous film - all those djinns and afrits and imps in the dark Victorian London streets, balls and receptions and the business of government conducted by dark suited magicians while the common unmagical people foment revolution... And Bartimaeus! What a character! I would cast Johnny Depp, or failing that, Tom Hiddleston. They have the right kind of sardonic expressions and ability to raise one eyebrow. They'd also look very fine transformed into a dark-eyed slave girl or skinny Egyptian boy. And there is a fantastic action-packed finale whicih would have everyoe on the edge of their seats.

Cecilia Busby is the author of a number of MG fantasy books. www.cjbusby.co.uk

6. Elen Caldecott Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay
The first in the warm, funny Casson Family series, this book would be perfect for a TV adaptation. It would sit on the spectrum of real life drama that includes classics like Tracy Beaker and Grange Hill. In the novel, Saffy has to find her place in the eccentric, eclectic family as a seismic secret comes to light. It has elements of soap opera, in that the emotional narrative is addictive, but it is done with such elegance that kids would be getting top quality telly.

7. Miriam Craig Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
When I was younger I watched TV adaptions of A Little Princess and The Secret Garden (by Frances Hodgson Burnett) with great pleasure (on video, of course). I think a movie or TV version of Journey to the River Sea would be every bit as popular. It's a story with great breadth, that starts at a boarding school in England, takes us by ship to Brazil and then circles back to an English country house. The characters are incredibly engaging and complex, especially the relationship between Maia, an orphan, and her stern governess, Miss Minton. And the plot is genuinely thrilling. But with the early 20th century setting and so many exciting locations, it wouldn't be cheap to make!

8. Jason Rohan: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
This is one of those books that is cinematic in concept and execution. Even though I read it a few years ago, many scenes remain vivid in my imagination. In short, it's a survival story against very long odds. 13 year old Brian Robeson finds himself stranded in the Canadian wilderness and has to fend for himself, like a much younger version of Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Even though there is only one main character and very little dialogue, for obvious reasons, Paulsen crafts a skillful tale of boy versus nature with plenty of excitement and I'd love to see this given the proper Hollywood treatment.

9. Anne Booth: Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh
It is a wonderful book full of magic and wit and I think it could be adapted to be a fantastic film.

10. Susie Day: Varjak Paw by SF Said, illustrated by Dave McKean
This one hurts, because it comes with so much might-have-been baggage. A kitten warrior navigating the city and learning The Way, accompanied by Dave McKean's aesthetic? It's no wonder this film has genuinely nearly happened time and again. There's even a poster. I loved Mirrormask's queasy fantasy, and the book's illustrations call to mind just such a tall-shadowed creepifying gothic landscape. The story's cracking too: tribes, family, responsibility and courage. Come on, Hollywood.


  1. Great blog! I have a graduate degree in middle level education, so you are writing about what I love. Thanks for focusing on this great genre of literature.

    Here's my list (although only a couple are YA): http://insearchoftheendofthesidewalk.com/2015/06/01/top-ten-tuesday-top-ten-books-id-love-to-see-as-moviestv-shows/

  2. I have always wanted to see Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo as a film...

  3. I had a hard time deciding between The Amulet of Samarkand and The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Ultimately I chose The Screaming Staircase, but truthfully I would love to see both make it to film. Bartimaeus is just such a fun cheeky character and the story really does have such potential. Great list.