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Book News, March 3rd

Happy March, bookworms! March means that spring is almost here and despite the fact that it is cold, damp and rainy/snowy in Boston, I’m choosing to believe in the power of positive thinking. If I want it to be spring and I wish for it hard enough, it just might actually happen. (That could work, right? Please say “right.” I’m so over winter.) Here’s some book news to keep you warm until spring arrives.

  • Sad news to start: Jan Berenstain, the co-creator of the Berenstain Bears – a staple of my childhood reading – has died.With her husband Stan, she created and wrote more than 300 books featuring the Bears: Papa, Mama, Brother and Sister. I can remember devouring every copy of the Berenstain Bear books we had, then re-reading them again and again until I could recite the story to you. Jan was 88.
  • Last Sunday, Hollywood spend a few hours congratulated itself. But it also congratulated a few other people too. Author, former animator and short film director William Joyce won the Best Animated Short Oscar for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. The film, which blends new and old animation techniques, was also an interactive storybook app for the iPad and will be released as a “regular” storybook this summer. The film joyfully celebrates the history of printing and publishing, when books were art to be savored.
  • So THAT’S how a book is written! Author Gayle Forman posted a fabulous blog earlier this week, in which she explored in detail the before and after of a chapter from her most recent book. Forman published screenshots of her original manuscript and the final book, and included footnotes explaining the evolution of the story and the characters. For fans, it’s a thrill to get an inside peek at the journey of a novel; for everyone else, it’s a fascinating look at just how much work really goes into the final book. (Does contain spoilers if you haven’t read Where She Went.)
  • First, she conquered school. Now, Broadway. Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company will bring Matilda: The Musical to Broadway some time next year.Based on Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel, the musical brings the story of the clever and intelligent Matilda to life, with the requisite music and dancing. The show is being marketed towards children and their families, as many kids will no doubt love seeing Matilda take on her evil principal with her special powers. The novel was already made into a movie in 1996.
  • Finally! Hard as it may be to believe, exactly zero of Judy Blume’s books have been adapted for film or television before now. That’s about to change, as the movie version of Blume’s novel Tiger Eyes will be released later this year. Blume was, no doubt, waiting for the right opportunity – her son co-wrote the script with her and directed the film. The film, like the book, features the story of a teen girl whose life is uprooted when her mother moves their family to New Mexico. With more than 80 million copies of her 25 novels sold, Blume is practically synonymous with young adult literature.
  • When in doubt, “borrow” from others. Publisher’s Weekly has a look at a few famous novels whose titles were inspired by poetry. Though maybe it shouldn’t be, it is a bit surprising to see how many well-known novels have poetic titles. Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men came from Scottish poet Robert Burns, Proust’s The Remembrance of Things Past was borrowed from Shakespeare, and Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls was taken from one of John Donne’s sonnets. So for you authors out there, stop worrying about the title of your book! Just read and poem and borrow away.
  • Whew! That was the sound of a large, collective sigh of relief. Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins has seen the final version of The Hunger Games movie and shared her thoughts on Facebook.The short version? She’s happy. The longer version? She’s really happy. Saying the “book and the film are individual yet complementary pieces that enhance one another,” Collins also praised the cast and Jennifer Lawrence (who portrays Katniss) in particular. There are exactly 20 more days until the movie is released. Not that I’m counting or anything.

As always, happy reading.

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