Christmas with the Charleses: Holidays for Fictional Characters

In case you’re feeling a little sick of the Christmas spirit at this point, Nora Charles from The Thin Man has your back:

I always forget that The Thin Man set around Christmas because it’s not a “Christmas” movie. I have to say, I really enjoy when holidays pop up in books and movies that aren’t about that particular holiday. It’s a chance to get your characters in a different setting or pressured in different ways. For example, I like that John Green’s Looking for Alaska includes a Thanksgiving scene, which gets the main characters away from boarding school and into the home of one character.

It’s also a nice reminder that your characters live in the same world we experience. A character doesn’t have to live in a Lifetime Christmas movie to share the holidays with their friends/family, just like we might not have the most dramatic/exciting holiday ever but still have meaningful experiences on that day. (Similarly, I like when characters get sick.)

Have you used holiday scenes in your novels?

More Matter, Plus Art

First there was a podcast of David Tennant in Twelfth Night; now his Hamlet is available to watch online? What an awesome week for Shakespeare (and fans of the Tenth Doctor)!

You can also check out this video on the making of this version of Hamlet. English teachers, take note.

Side note: the scene with Hamlet holding Yorick’s skull is probably one of the best-known images in theater, so it’s easy to forget what’s going on in the scene. I took a Shakespeare class in grad school, and our professor reminded us that Hamlet is holding the skull of probably the only person who ever really cared about him. The skull isn’t just a prop–it’s what’s left of the head of someone he loved. That scene suddenly became so sad for me! Shakespeare knew what he was doing, guys.

(image: The Guardian)

No, But I’ve Seen the Movie

With Tin Tin in theaters, famous writers were asked about the best and worst children’s book-to-movie adaptations, and which they’d like to see. A few favorite thoughts:

Lois Lowry: “I think [movie adaptations of books] are pretty uniformly disappointing, with some (“Tuck Everlasting”) spectacularly worse than others. My only real favorite is the obvious “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which was not published as a YA book (though if it had been written today, it would have been).”

Sherman Alexie: I think “Howl’s Moving Castle” has to be the best film adaptation of a young-adult book. The book is terrific but the movie is better. I know that’s blasphemy for a writer to say, but the imagination of the filmmakers — the images they create — are better than anything that I created as I read the novel. The filmmakers became my imagination. My two sons also think this is the best adaptation ever.

Jane Yolen: “Three that I would like to see made are Shannon Hale’s “Goose Girl” and the books that follow it, Patricia C. Wrede’s “Enchanted Forest” books, and Bruce Coville’s “Magic Shop” books. I know that’s cheating because I would be getting multiple movies out of a choice of three, but nobody says these kind of choices are fair.

Love all these choices. There are a lot of other fantastic suggestions* (click through to see!) After seconding most choices in the famous author list, I’d add:

The Good: The 2010 version of True Grit, which was very true to the book and a YA novel at heart.

The Bad: Any Madeleine L’Engle related movie. A Ring of Endless Light is not about saving dolphins from an evil corporation!

The Hopeful: I’d love to see a miniseries based on Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness. (Hell, any of Pierce’s books, but the Alanna series are near and dear to my heart.)

What children’s book movie adaptations are on your best/worst/wish lists?

*On the other hand, R.L. Stine liked the Golden Compass movie, which I thought was a very watered-down version of an amazing book. (Granted, the polar bear scenes were awesome.) A friend of mine has suggested that only Miyazaki could do a worthwhile version of His Dark Materials and I’m inclined to agree.