Talk about a hot read: Yesterday, Variety reported that Mandalay Pictures had snagged the much-coveted rights to Sophie Jordan’s young adult novel Firelight, a book that has been picking up sizzle ever since its release…on Sept. 7. Yes, as in Sept. 7, 2010, just two weeks ago.
Clearly, Hollywood has its eyes fixed on the young adult world, with every studio clamoring to release the next Twilight. (Or, as we will likely be saying soon, the next Hunger Games.) But while there’s certainly demand for a Firelight film — the book, about two teenage descendants of dragons, has been buzz-y since May’s Book Expo America — it’s a shame there’s so much focus on the new releases, especially when you consider how many untapped YA novels from the past are just begging to be adapted for the big screen. So, PopWatchers, we ask you: What young adult novel should Hollywood adapt next?
There are the obvious choices: The Catcher in the Rye — which has famously never made it to theaters, despite interest from the likes of Jack Nicholson and John Cusack — and A Wrinkle in Time, which was made into a TV movie, but come on — fantastical world-hopping awesomeness belongs on the big screen. (In 3-D, no less!) But where is Hollywood’s take on, say, Will Hobbs’ Downriver, Megan McCafferty’s Sloppy Firsts, Christopher Collier’s My Brother Sam Is Dead, Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, and Go Ask Alice (and no, that ABC TV movie doesn’t count)? And while Louis Sachar’s Sideways Stories from Wayside School seems more fitted for the small screen (there’s already an animated TV series and movie, but surely Todd and the gang deserve live action), who wouldn’t want an adaptation of Artemis Fowl, which has been at an impasse since the WGA strike, Lois Lowry’s The Giver — which has a director in David Yates attached, but doesn’t appear to be making any more movement — or Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, which has remained in limbo since rights were grabbed in 2006? And, personally, I’d be shocked if Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods went ignored for much longer.
Of course, there are certain YA books whose stories should remain on the page. Though The Westing Game ranks in my personal top 5 book list, young adult or otherwise, I can’t imagine anyone could carry the unabashed fun and quirky flavor of Ellen Raskin’s mystery classic into theaters. (And don’t even try to convince me to watch the 1997 TV movie. Blasphemy, I tells ya!) And though both Mel Stuart and Tim Burton have proved they could adapt Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with great success (even if Roald Dahl famously hated the 1971 version), Dahl’s The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar belongs as far away from overpriced candy and popcorn as possible. (I can’t help wondering, however, what Burton would do with The BFG.)
So what say you, PopWatchers? Are you wondering why Hollywood has no love for Choose Your Own Adventure? Should Hollywood turn Betsy Haynes’ The Fabulous Five into a Mean Girls-esque teen comedy and make Taffy Sinclair’s name synonymous with Regina George’s? Do you want to see a film version of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, which was supposed to be adapted by Danny DeVito, but has been delayed by a lawsuit? And Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl? (Abigail Breslin isn’t getting any younger, Hollywood!) Are you, like me, hoping Diablo Cody’s Sweet Valley High adaptation makes it to theaters, even if news of the film has screeched to a halt? And isn’t it almost unfathomable that Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret hasn’t scored an adaptation? Let’s play, PopWatchers!