Your Favorite Children’s Books…Revamped for Kids These Days

In the modern world of Snapchat and selfies, reading has often taking a back seat to texting and iPad games for today’s kids. The Huffington Post pokes fun at this tech-obsessed generation by recreating popular children’s book covers.

Here are a few of my favs, presented without comment:

 

Hope these made you LOL! Any others that you can think of changing?

The Book is ALWAYS Better!

Cover of "The Scarlet Letter"

Sirius? How can I forgive you?

I’ll just let you know right now, I read The Huffington Post everyday. As an aspiring journalist, this embarrasses me, since HuffPost isn’t exactly the most credible, professional, or even copy-edited place on the web to get your news, but it updates constantly and satisfies my basic need to get the day’s headlines. That, and it has a “Books” section, which I link to frequently. So, if you’re annoyed by the reposting, too bad!

Yesterday, HuffPost released a list of “7 Worst Film Adaptations,” with videos for each entry. Here they are!

  1. The Scarlet Letter (1995) with Demi Moore and Gary Oldman
  2. Fever Pitch (2005) with Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon
  3. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) with Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana
  4. I Am Legend (2007) with Will Smith
  5. Dune (1984) with Kyle MacLachlan
  6. The Cat in the Hat (2003) with Mike Myers and Dakota Fanning
  7. A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) with Jim Carrey
          I’ve seen #1, 3, and 7, and I completely agree! I haven’t read The Time Traveler’s Wife, but the movie was depressing, confusing, and lacking chemistry. I don’t know how accurate it was, but the ending left me with that “Well, there’s a couple hours I’ll never get back” feeling.
          The Scarlet Letter, however, was so horrible you can’t help but crack up, which is why it’s mocked all the time (most recently in last year’s modern adaptation, Easy A, with the adorable Emma Stone). Hawthorne’s novel is one of my favorites: his writing is complex but beautiful, and the story was so moving. Let’s just hope Demi Moore in a bathtub was enough to stop him from rolling over in his grave!
          Last on the list, I read all of Lemony Snicket’s books, and loved their sinister, mysterious stories. I thought the movie’s casting was fine, but their attempt to combine the first three novels was the most unfortunate event of all, and I’m just glad they were smart enough not to make more sequels.
          I always take the side of the book, but I also look forward to their movie counterparts, with the hope that the magic of the words will be just as stellar on screen. And there are some great adaptations out there: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter (except #3), Fight Club, The Godfather, The Princess Bride, among others.
          But there’s one that didn’t make the list which definitely should have: The Golden Compass (2007) with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman. I wrote a scathing review on BridgeToTheStars.Net, which no longer exists on the site, but here were my main complaints:
  1. Hollywood’s cowardice in not addressing the religious themes. In case you didn’t know, the author Philip Pullman is an atheist–GET OVER IT! In his modern re-telling of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Pullman mocked the Catholic Church and its teachings on original sin and puberty. But since the producers were scared of losing profits and Kidman is Catholic, what fans got was a watered-down version of Pullman’s exquisite fantasy tale, which I think is so much worse than no movie at all.
  2. The director. Chris Weitz? Really??? The same guy who made American Pie??? For shame…
  3. Everything else that was left out. All the real violence of Iorek’s fight, the inaccuracies with the characters, and–of course–the ending. I won’t spoil it, but fans know exactly what I’m talking about!
          Maybe one day, someone will correct these massive wrongs and live up to Pullman’s best work. But until then, I’m going to return to pretending this abomination never happened.
          What other movie adaptations make you cringe? Any that surpass the books? Send me your rants!!!

Most Hated Words in the English Language?

Last week, The Huffington Post released a list of words that readers find disgusting or hard to hear. I’ve always thought about words that drive me nuts, as well as ones I could say all day. Here’s their best of the worst:

  1. Maggots
  2. Sexy
  3. Pants
  4. Adipocere
  5. Fetus
  6. Viscous
  7. Roaches
  8. Hockey
  9. Moist
  10. Hillbilly
  11. Wolverine
  12. Slurp
  13. Hubby
  14. Panties
  15. Tender
          Now I have no problems with pants/panties, other than they’re singular words that sound plural. “Sexy” doesn’t bother me either, unless you use “sex” to describe genitalia instead of the act. Of course, any words about bugs like “maggots” and “roaches” are horrible–but I think “cockroach” is even worse. I also can’t stand “hubby,” simply because too many women use it when referring to their boyfriends–it’s short for “husband” people!!! “Fetus” also sounds gross, and I’ve wondered: what’s the plural form? Fetuses? Feti? Ugh.
          Personally, though, I have to give it to “moist.” It’s like nails on a chalkboard! It’s too versatile; I shouldn’t be able to use the same word for a delicious chocolate cake and a sweaty old man in the sauna…or worse, using “moist” in the bedroom, which should just be straight-up illegal!
          Other words that I would add to this list include “pus,” “crusty,” “mucus,” and “phelgm”–really anything to describe repulsive bodily functions or fluids. One of the many reasons why I want to be a writer, not a doctor.
          Thus, in order to cleanse my ears, here’s some of my favorite-sounding words:
  1. Loquacious
  2. Assassinate
  3. Annihilate
  4. Audacity
  5. Debacle
  6. Ethereal
  7. Prestidigitation
  8. Eclectic
  9. Adversary
  10. Lament
  11. Malevolent
  12. Pernicious
  13. Archaic
  14. Capricious
  15. Melody
          And yes, I realize that I have a lot of words dealing with destruction and evil. I’m not condoning the content, but what can I say? These words just roll off the tongue!
          What words do you love and hate? Any that need to be banned immediately? (But for the sake of my “G” rating, let’s avoid slang and slurs, alright? That’s a whole different level of ugly!)

Is Young Adult Fiction Too “Adult?”

The Hunger Games

Image via Wikipedia

On June 4, 2011, Meghan Cox Gurdon from the Wall Street Journal wrote “Darkness Too Visible,” in which she bemoaned that young adult fiction was chock-full of vampires, self-harm, drugs, and violence. She blames the 1960s, and S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders (1967) in particular,  as what unleashed the downward spiral. Now the shelves are lined with such books “immersed in ugliness” as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

She ends with this:

So it may be that the book industry’s ever-more-appalling offerings for adolescent readers spring from a desperate desire to keep books relevant for the young. Still, everyone does not share the same objectives. The book business exists to sell books; parents exist to rear children, and oughtn’t be daunted by cries of censorship. No family is obliged to acquiesce when publishers use the vehicle of fundamental free-expression principles to try to bulldoze coarseness or misery into their children’s lives.

Unsurprisingly, this kind of melodramatic, “mommy on a mission” journalism never goes over well with readers. In fact, 89% of voters who answered the WSJ’s poll thought that dark themes in YA fiction were actually helpful, not harmful, to teenagers.

Chris Crutcher of The Huffington Post responded yesterday with “Young Adult Fiction: Let Teens Choose,” which I thought hit the nail on the head:

I went to my local Barnes and Noble and stood in the teen section, as purportedly did Amy Freeman, 46-year-old mother of three. And guess what? I saw a lot of the same “dark” literature Amy saw. And I saw a boatload of literature that was not dark, and a boatload more for which it was impossible to tell standing there staring. She would have had to open some books. I’m guessing Amy Freeman, 46-year-old mother of three, wasn’t as interested in finding her daughter a book as she was in making a statement that fit her philosophy.

So here’s what I’d add to the whole YA is dark and dangerous debate:

  1. Yes, there’s some serious stuff in some YA novels. But guess what? There’s some serious stuff in life. Drugs, sex, and violence are real, and most teenagers have not only seen them, but experienced them as well. Adults don’t give teens enough credit: they’re smart, and reading about mature themes allows them to form their own opinions and become mature human beings.
  2. When I was a teen and I felt uncomfortable with a book’s subject material, I stopped reading the book. I’ll admit that I used to be enthralled with Lois Duncan’s YA suspense novels, such as I Know What You Did Last Summer. Once I started having nightmares, I knew that I was too much of a scaredy-cat, and moved on to other books. Reading what I didn’t like made me realize what I did like. And no, I wasn’t traumatized, and I didn’t grow up to be a serial killer–imagine that!
  3. Some parents are straight-up wrong about books. The uber-religious want to ban the Harry Potter series for containing witchcraft. Even my mom didn’t want me reading them when I was 11. HP didn’t teach me dark magic, but it did teach me about friendship, bravery, and equality. And you know what other stories have witchcraft and other no-no’s in them? The literary classics, including Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Euripides’ Medea, which–omigoodness clutch your pearls–I read in high school. Crazy, right?
So, yes, be involved in what your child reads, but never judge a YA book by its poorly designed, emo-looking cover. There’s some great YA books out there, dark or not, and they should all be valued for getting teens interested in reading. Books generate discussion, so parents should get off their high horses and join the conversation.
PS: I finally jumped on The Hunger Games band-wagon yesterday, and I’m loving it! Nothing like child gladiators to spice up your summer!

Overrated Classics?

Cover of The Catcher in the Rye 1985 edition

Image via Wikipedia

Today The Huffington Post released this short list of classic novels which it considers overrated:

  1. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  4. The Stranger by Albert Camus
  5. Ulysses by James Joyce
         Personally, I have read 3 and 4, and highly disagree with their reasoning. The Catcher in the Rye is an exquisite read at any age, and to oversimplify it as “whiney” is insulting. The Stranger is one of my favorite novels, precisely because it’s difficult “for the reader to feel a connection to the character.” As the epitome of French existentialism, you’re not supposed to understand Mersault, because the point of the novel is that sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense. It’s beautifully written and engaging, not bland and glacial.
         Now I haven’t read the others, but I have read Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” and 2 is the only one I would probably agree with, since I found his writing rather boring. But after hating Wharton’s Ethan Frome and loving The Age of Innocence, I try to never judge an author’s novel based on other work of his/hers that I’ve read previously. You never know, right?
          So do you think HuffPost’s spot-on, or did it totally miss the mark?