The Best Kids Books That Were Turned Into Films - Rooftop Cinema Club

The Best Kids Books That Were Turned Into Films

In honor of World Book Day on April 23, we’ve listed our favorite kid’s books that were made into films, for better or worse…

Pinocchio – 1940

Based on:

The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (1883)

What’s it all about?

A wooden puppet who turns into a real boy and is most famous for having a growing nose when he lies and a tiny insect mate.

Any differences?

Pinocchio in the book is a little more, uh, violent. He kills Jiminy Cricket when he gives him some advice that the boy didn’t care for. Bit much.

 

The BFG – 1989 and 2016

Based on:

The BFG by Roald Dahl (1982)

What’s it all about?

A big friendly giant rescues (definitely not kidnaps) a young girl from an orphanage whilst he’s out blowing dreams into everyone’s heads. Together, they hang out in his cave house and hide from other giants. Normal Friday night.

Any differences?

The ‘89 film was one of the few to get any praise from Dahl, who was famously unhappy with many of his book adaptations, but that’s because it is cartoon perfection. There are very few differences between both films and the original story.

 

Willy Wonka/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – 1971 and 2005

Based on:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)

What’s it all about?

A poor boy who has lived on cabbage soup for most of his life finds one of only five golden tickets in existence that permit him and his previously bedridden grandfather (so shady, Grandpa Joe…) to enter Willy Wonka’s secret chocolate factory.

Any differences?

Dahl straight-up hated the ‘71 adaptation because of its wild differences, which included huge emphasis on Wonka and turning Slugworth, a minor character, into the film’s baddie. The ‘05 film is truer to the book but slathered with a little extra Tim Burton-ness.

 

Matilda – 1996

Based on:

Matilda by Roald Dahl (1988)

What’s it all about?

A schoolgirl finds out that she has telekinesis and uses it to punish her selfish parents and her cruel headmistress until her sweet teacher adopts her.

Any differences?

In the book, Matilda never goes into Miss Trunchbull’s house, but in the film, she breaks in twice. Can’t make a kid’s film without a little breaking and entering. Also in the book, her brother is a normal boy whereas the film shows him as a bully.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – 2005

Based on:

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)

What’s it all about?

The children travel through a wardrobe and find themselves in the mysterious world of Narnia. There they must fight an evil queen and her army of mythical creatures to save a talking lion and his worshippers. Let’s have some Turkish Delights first, though.

Any differences?

The bit with the frozen river where the icy waterfall melts and the kids and the beavers sail on a chunk of ice was made up for the film. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? Let’s be besties.

 

Coraline – 2009

Based on:

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (2002)

What’s it all about?

A young girl finds a mirrored world behind a door in her new house where her Other Parents live. They appear to be an even better version of her real parents until the Other Mother reveals her desires to sew buttons on Coraline’s eyes.

Any differences?

Coraline’s friend, Wybie, only exists in the film. He was invented so that Coraline wouldn’t have to talk to herself all the time like she does in the book.

 

Harry Potter – from 2001 to 2011

Based on:

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (from 1997 – 2007)

What’s it all about?

A boy finds out from a giant that he’s a wizard. He then goes to a magical school where him and his friends spend most of the term fighting a dark lord who, for some reason, doesn’t have a nose.

Any differences?

J.K. Rowling was hugely involved in the creation of the films, but there are still differences that fans have NOT taken lightly to. Harry’s eyes in the book are green, as are his mother’s, whereas in the film, they’re blue and brown respectively. Not such a big deal if people didn’t keep going on about how he has his mother’s eyes throughout the entire film.

 

One Hundred and One/101 Dalmatians – 1961 and 1996

Based on:

The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith (1956)

What’s it all about?

There’s these dalmatians, 101 of ‘em, and this evil woman wants them to make a coat from.

Any differences?

Pongo the dog is with another female dog, Missis, in the book. They have puppies but can’t care for them, so they get another female, Perdita, to help. In the film, there is no Missis.

 

The Wizard of Oz – 1939

Based on:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900)

What’s it all about?

Dorothy finds herself in the technicolor world of Oz, inhabited by munchkins, witches and horses of a different color. She makes friends with a brainless Scarecrow, a heartless Tin Man and a cowardly Lion on her way to visit the wizard who she hopes will help her get home.

Any differences?

In the film, Dorothy’s trip to Oz was just a dream, but the book shows it as a real adventure. Also in the book, her ruby slippers are silver, and the reasons why the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion are without brains, hearts and courage are revealed.

 

Mrs. Doubtfire – 1993

Based on:

Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine (1987)

What’s it all about?

A dad is restricted from seeing his children so he does what every normal person would do: dresses up as an old woman and applies to be the kids’ nanny.

Any differences?

Not loads, the main one probably being that the kids, Lydia and Chris, know from the beginning that Madame Doubtfire is their dad in drag. Y’know, like literally every other person probably would too.

 

Alice in Wonderland – 1951 and 2010

Based on:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

What’s it all about?

A young girl who travels to Wonderland and eats her way around, growing and shrinking with every bite. Along the way, she makes friends with The Mad Hatter and various talking animals, but also a serious enemy in the shape of The Queen of Hearts.

Any differences?

There is no White Queen in the first book, she comes into play in the sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, but she’s seen in the 2010 adaptation.

 

Mary Poppins – 1964

Based on:

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers (1934)

What’s it all about?

Two children wish for a nanny who is kind, witty, very sweet and fairly pretty. Mary Poppins turns up. She’s a magical nanny who sings her way through tasks whilst taking care of these kids and her chimney sweeping mate.

Any differences?

P.L. Travers famously made the production of the Disney film difficult by trying to keep it true to the story; this meant having a harsh and stern nanny, no romantic links between Mary and Bert, and no made-up words. Disney ignored her quicker than you can say ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’.

 

Where the Wild Things Are – 2009

Based On:

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963)

What’s it all about?

Max is all ‘peace out’ and runs away in his wolf costume, as kids do. He travels to a world where the big cuddly monsters proclaim him king in his final attempt at embracing his life. It might be in his imagination, but the tears are for sure real.

Any differences?

The wild things all have their own personalities, and Max is given a backstory which we’re pretty sure intentionally set out to break all of our hearts. It’s all cool though, ’cause Maurice Sendak gave the director full permission to make the changes he did.

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