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The Book is Better

When we first began our homeschooling journey, we were invited to a book club for my older daughter, who was about 9 at the time. That book club lasted until she had outgrown it, and her little sister took over as the participant, and then also outgrew it. We read SO many good books in that book club, each time culminating in a day of activities and fun centered around the book's theme.

Oftentimes my friend who hosted the book club would plan a book based on the fact that the movie was coming out soon. As a book club, we would wrap up our reading, do a few activities together, and then go to the movie theater. This ended the same way each time: with our children grouped up in the lobby complaining about how wrong they got it all in the movie, offended and affronted by the lack of accuracy and how they had "ruined" the story. Ha--it made us so proud.

Our book club was called "The Book is Better Bookclub." And 99% of the time, it was true. Every now and then there was a movie that was so good we didn't mind the differences from the book. It could almost be looked at as a separate entity. I can love this book. And I can also like this movie. They are not related, necessarily, so I can like them both. The main takeaway, however, was that the book is usually better. That was what we wanted them to know.

COVID killed our book club for the time being, which my youngest daughter had just begun to participate in. Even though our book club host has graduated all of her students, she still hopes to get together for a few more book club meetings one of these days. They are so fun. This year in our own homeschool, we are reading books that have been made into movies and then watching the movie afterward. It's difficult to find books to read aloud to my girls that they would both enjoy being that there is an 8 year age difference between them. However, our first read aloud of the year hit the nail on the head.

We read the book Upside Down Magic by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins. We all enjoyed reading the book--the original book that began the series. I had about 5 minutes of internal struggle reading about a magical world that wasn't the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, the authors actually managed to come up with something new and unique in this magical world. Everything in the book is not wrapped up at the end, although it felt satisfactory. I know since there are more books in the series that other plot lines will be addressed later. We enjoyed the book, looked forward to reading it each day, and I really liked several of the characters and how the problem was solved.

Then we watched the movie.

I will say that if we had not read the book, we might have enjoyed the movie more. Reading just makes it glaringly obvious how dumbed down movies can be. I understand (and expect) that there will be differences between books and movies, but this movie was so completely different from the book that there were only a few recognizable features: a few character names, the types of magic talents (although even those were changed a bit), and some vocabulary. Everything else was different---Nory's (the main character) family, an added "best friend" character that wasn't even in the book, the school, the classes, the teacher, the relationship and character of another major character, the problems, the resolution, and the added evil dark magic themes. Whew. That was a lot of changes, Disney. I'm not sure how the authors were OK with all that. I certainly wouldn't have been!

Did we like the movie? It was OK. My 9 year old watched it again the next day--or parts of it. (Warning: many younger children would be scared of a certain part--it even freaked me out some!) We all agreed the book was better and my older daughter and I were once again affronted at the horrible changes made to an otherwise enjoyable book. The really sad part is---the book would have made a wonderful movie AS IS. Most all of the changes were unnecessary.

Are we book snobs? Yes, yes we might be. But I'm raising readers and that's OK with me.

Next up: We're reading The Princess Diaries. We've seen this movie so we are already making comparisons. MOSTLY I am editing on the fly while I read because oh my word it's not for 9 year olds. I'm not entirely sure what made them decide to make a movie out of this book but I'm sticking it out to the end because I like the movie and it just might turn out to be one of those 1% cases where the movie is better. We shall see.


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