Monday, March 25, 2019

#SOL19: March 25th

     Read the book, then watch the movie.  In that order.  Always.

     Those are words I live by.  If there is a movie out that was based on a book, and I have ever had any intention of reading the book, I read the book.  Then, I watch the movie.  That's my rule. My sweet daughter disagreed with me a few years ago when her 2nd grade teacher read The Tale of Despereaux, and then they watched the movie in class.  She followed up by reading Mr. Popper's Penguins, and then watched the movie, and my daughter claimed that the books ruined the movies because she knew what happened already. At the time, I felt like a literacy coach failure.  How could my daughter feel this way?

      Fast forward a few years, and we were sitting at our dinner table, talking about Willy Wonka Jr. before we headed to a nearby school to watch it.  My colleague's daughter taught the middle schoolers there, and I love that novel, so why not!  As we were talking about the play, anticipating how they were going to set the stage up, I realized that both my son and daughter had no idea about what I was talking about.  They didn't know anything about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Somehow they hadn't read it in class, nor at home, and apparently we hadn't watched the movie (which is LOVED by my husband).  How had this happened?

     We got to the play and met Lucy and Becky, and Keira was immediately drawn in by the chocolate concession stand.  Evan was a bit disappointed that we didn't have front row, but as soon as the lights went down he sat on his chair in the back row, on his knees the whole time, comforted by the scarf Lucy put on his chair to kneel on.  Keira, on the other hand, spent most of the play sitting in my lap, whispering in the darkness...

     "So who's the bad guy in this play?"

     "What do you mean the kids are the bad guys?"

     "He didn't find the golden ticket?  Now how is he going to find it?  He only gets one bar a year!"

     "Oh, that's what you mean.  They are all spoiled."

     "Mom, he's going to find it now."

      "Does his grandpa get to go with him?"

      "Mr. Wonka isn't very nice to the kids, either."

      "No!  Don't do it Charlie!  Don't drink that!  I wish this part wasn't happening."

      "I think Veruca Salt is going to be next."  

      "Well, she really was a bad egg.  I liked those squirrels."

      "You mean the whole factory is his?  Will his family move in?"

      It was clear to me that perhaps there is value to watching a play before a book after all.  Those quiet (and not so quiet) whispers in the theater were little golden treasures of my own, peeking out of Wonka bar and waiting to be discovered.  To hear that curious voice in my ear, thinking about the play and making predictions and hearing her reaction, was priceless.  My son, on the other hand, hardly said a word during the play, but afterwards commented on how the cast from Act 1 was almost completely different than the cast in Act 2.  He guessed it was because the settings were different.  And he liked all the costumes and songs.  Those observations are also different from the take aways he would have had from he book, so perhaps he will still read the novel at some point.  Perhaps you can watch the play, and read the book.  

     I think I'll stick to my own rule, all the same. 


  1. This is always a conundrum when a beloved book is turned into a movie. I find that sometimes the movie gets me excited to read the book, and I enjoy it anyway, even after I have seen the movie. But there is something special about getting to experience it as a book first!

  2. What a memory you've all made! Thank you for sharing it with us. I love the rhythm of the piece.
    The Horse Whisperer was the only title when I loved the movie more than the book. The book was just too sad. I did enjoy the movie You Before Me before the book. I still loved the book more.


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