Movies Inspired by Middle Grade Novels

I kept seeing commercials for Home and thought it looked cute, but didn’t really think about seeing it in the theater…until I read that it was adapted from The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex. I LOVE that book! Now, I can’t wait to see the movie.

This made me think about other middle grade novels that inspired movies. I think it’s fun to read a book then see how the movie compares to it. I often enjoy books way more than the movies and feel like people are missing some important things that didn’t transfer into the film version. But there are times when I like the movie better, or love both the book and the movie about the same amount.

Check out these middle grade novels that were turned into movies:

THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY

Smekday coverWhen twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens-called Boov-abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

In any case, Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.

JEREMY FINK AND THE MEANING OF LIFE

Jeremy Fink coverIn one month Jeremy Fink will turn thirteen. But does he have what it takes to be a teenager? He collects mutant candy, he won’t venture more than four blocks from his apartment if he can help it, and he definitely doesn’t like surprises. On the other hand, his best friend, Lizzy, isn’t afraid of anything, even if that might get her into trouble now and then.

Jeremy’s summer takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious wooden box arrives in the mail. According to the writing on the box, it holds the meaning of life! Jeremy is supposed to open it on his thirteenth birthday. The problem is, the keys are missing, and the box is made so that only the keys will open it without destroying what’s inside. Jeremy and Lizzy set off to find the keys, but when one of their efforts goes very wrong, Jeremy starts to lose hope that he’ll ever be able to open the box. But he soon discovers that when you’re meeting people named Oswald Oswald and using a private limo to deliver unusual objects to strangers all over the city, there might be other ways of finding out the meaning of life.

MATILDA

Matilda coverMatilda is a genius. Unfortunately, her family treats her like a dolt. Her crooked car-salesman father and loud, bingo-obsessed mother think Matilda’s only talent is as a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in their miserable lives. But it’s not long before the sweet and sensitive child decides to fight back. Faced with practical jokes of sheer brilliance, her parents don’t stand a chance.

Matilda applies her untapped mental powers to rid the school of the evil, child-hating headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, and restore her nice teacher, Miss Honey, to financial security.

THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET

Invention of Hugo Cabret coverOrphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS

Mr. Popper's Penguins coverThe unexpected delivery of a large crate containing an Antarctic penguin changes the life and fortunes of Mr. Popper, a house painter obsessed by dreams of the Polar regions.

 

We had a great post about this back in 2010. Click on this link to check out a whole bunch of other movies that were inspired by middle grade novels.

What is your favorite movie based on a middle grade novel? Do you have any favorite novels that you’re hoping will be turned into a movie?

Mindy Alyse Weiss writes humorous middle grade novels with heart and quirky picture books. She’s constantly inspired by her two daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix who was rescued from the Everglades. Visit Mindy’s TwitterFacebook, or blog to read more about her writing life, conference experiences, and writing tips.

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Mindy Alyse Weiss
Mindy Alyse Weiss writes humorous middle grade novels with heart and quirky picture books. She’s constantly inspired by her two daughters, an adventurous Bullmasador adopted from The Humane Society, and an adorable Beagle/Pointer mix who was rescued from the Everglades.
10 Comments
  1. These aren’t necessarily favorite “book turned into movie” but to add to the list, I enjoyed the movies for Harriet the Spy, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Westing Game, Anne of Green Gables (course it was fabulous!) Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Charlotte’s Web, Freaky Friday. And the list could go on. It’s actually kind of amazing how many MG books have become movies!

  2. I haven’t read the above mentioned books or seen the movies. But, I have seen the movie, Because of Winn Dixie! Loved both the book and the movie.

  3. I was fortunate to have had my mid-grade noveL, Me Two, made into a wonderful after school TV movie by Disney. They did change the title to The Other Me, but preserved the story intact and actually added a small but lovely twist. Alas, it never was released on DVD (although they gave me a tape) and although the producer put me in touch with four agents, nobody would help get the book back in print. So I did. But being on the set in the Toronto area and meeting Andy Lawrence and his mom, plus other cast members was a real rush.

  4. I read once that Hollywood loves MG books for making into movies, but they do change the titles and so we often miss them. I can’t think of others, but I know there are many. I will check some of these out. Thanks for the post.

  5. “Matilda” also inspired a terrific Broadway musical!

  6. I’ll add Hoot and My Side of the Mountain.

    I was disappointed when they changed the name from The True Meaning of Smekday to Home. I guess one-word titles are a thing these days.

    • Thanks for sharing, Jacqueline! I wish they kept the book title–the word Smekday grabs my attention so much more than Home.

  7. I’m hoping The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen will become a movie. I love when MG novels become movies, especially when I’ve read them first., they are such fun to share with my child.

    • I’d love to see The False Prince turned into a movie!

      I love when middle grade novels become movies, too. I wish they’d make a great one for one of my all-time favorite books–Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. I have a faint memory of a couple TV episodes inspired by it a while back that were okay, but it would make such an incredible movie.