Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two Popular Children's Classics Coming This Fall to a Theater Near You

Exciting movie news for all the, er, kids out there. Kids with wonderful parents who will selflessly offer up their precious weekend time and hard-earned cash this fall to take their darlings to the theater to see two great children's books reborn as feature films. Don't say we never do anything for you; sacrifice is our middle name, you know.

September 18 is the projected opening date for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. It stars the voices of Anna Faris, Neil Patrick Harris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Tracy Morgan, and Mr. T.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is a 1978 book written by Judi Barrett about the "lucky" town of Chewandswallow whose citizenry don't have to grow, harvest, cook, or buy their food. Soups and beverages rain down on them, mashed potatoes blanket them like snow, and all is fine and dandy until changes in the weather pattern pelt them with giant meatballs and smother them with Paul Bundy-sized pancakes. Will they escape with their lives? And, if so, will they be able to adapt to a world where they not only have to purchase food in things called stores, but cook it up, too?

Save room for the book's sequel, Pickles to Pittsburgh. The grateful residents of Chewandswallow who enjoyed so much food for so long return to pack up all the food left behind and ship it off to the hungry folks in other parts of the world.

In her stories Judi Barrett sets out to not only entertain children in their own little world, but to teach about the bigger world at the same time. In Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, animals' different shapes and sizes are emphasized when a giraffe sports seven neckties on his long neck and a hanging opossum wears his clothes upside down. Never Take a Shark to the Dentist puts children at ease by blending humor and what to expect at the dentist's office.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is named one of Reading Rainbow's 101 Best Children's Books.

Visit Sony's official Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Web site.

Director Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are is slated for an October 16 opening. The cast includes Catherine Keener as Max's mom, and the voices of James Gandolfini, Forest Whitaker, Lauren Ambrose, Catherine O'Hara, and Paul Dano. Because Maurice Sendak hates "syrupy animation," he is thrilled about Jonze's dark adaptation of his book.

Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are was written in 1963, a time when most children's books were sentimental tales of innocence and sweetness and didn't deal often with realistic childhood issues such as anger or sibling rivalry or rebellion. It is the story of a misbehaving boy named Max who is sent to his room without supper, and he takes running away from home one step farther when he embarks on an imaginative journey for days, months, and almost a year to where the Wild Things are. But as exciting as it is to be King of the Wild Things, he misses home, and on his return is welcomed back by a bowl of warm soup. All in all, one of the coolest time outs ever.

Where the Wild Things Are forms a loose trilogy with In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There. Though seemingly unrelated, Sendak says that the three books "are all variations on the same theme: how children master various feelings—anger, boredom, fear, frustration, jealousy—and manage to come to grips with the realities of their lives."

Where the Wild Things Are was supposed to be titled Where the Horses Are, but Sendak dropped the horse angle when he discovered he couldn't draw them well enough. He changed the horses to "things," based on some hairy-nosed relatives he hated from his Brooklyn childhood.

This book is the recipient of a Caldecott Medal and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and is an ALA Notable Book. In 2006 the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp depicting a Wild Thing in a series of "Favorite Children's Book Animals."

Visit Warner Brothers' official Where the Wild Things Are Web site.

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