Movie Ideas Based on Children's Classics

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is raking in the cash, one of many recent adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s beloved books. Also, a friend of mine recently informed me that Disney is planning to adapt L. Frank Baum’s series of Wizard of Oz sequels. As much as I love Wonderland and Oz, I wish Hollywood would explore some other children’s classics. Here are some ideas that come to mind that deserve the big screen treatment.


The Monsters’ Room – Hope Campbell wrote this story back in the 1970s. I remember reading it as a kid and being enthralled by the adventure of a young boy named Peter whose life is being haunted by classic monsters (Dracula, the Mummy, the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, and others). He and his friends Obie and Sally try to get rid of them. The book was originally titled Peter’s Angel but that sort of gave away the ending. I think it would make an excellent feature length film.

The Adventures of the Black Hand Gang – I have already written about this unique little book about kid detectives solving mysteries. In the book, readers searched for clues in illustrations. A movie would need to be more traditional, but there is a lot of marketing potential in the concept – moviegoers could search online for things tied to the movie's story, for example.

The Fairy Tale Wars – Okay, this is sort of a rip-off idea from Bill Willingham’s Fables comic book (which I’ve praised in the past and which is already apparently being developed for television), but doesn’t Hollywood have a long tradition of stealing cool concepts? I’m thinking of the public domain characters from Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes like Little Bo Peep, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Little Miss Muffet, versus some characters from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, such as Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks, and of course the Big Bad Wolf. Many of these characters have appeared in movies ranging from Toy Story to Shrek, and other incarnations. They are perfect for modern reimagining.

Shel Silverstein’s Wacky World – If Tim Burton wants to continue adapting existing tales and retelling them in his own style, then the poetry of Shel Silverstein would be a perfect match. There are enough great elements in Silverstein’s library of books (The Giving Tree, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, etc.) to fill a series of movies. It would be great to see some “real-world” characters go on a quest in the wonderfully bizarre fantasy world that stemmed from Silverstein’s vivid imagination.

The Monster at the End of This Movie – Do any of you remember the neat “Little Golden Book” called The Monster at the End of This Book featuring Sesame Street’s Grover? He told the reader that there was a monster at the end of the book and begged the reader not to turn the page, and of course he became more and more distressed as each page was inevitably turned. I think this has the potential to be turned into a great, interactive, groundbreaking movie. The Muppets haven’t had a hit in a while and Sesame Street’s movie track record isn’t anything to brag about (as an example, check out Follow That Bird). This could be an interesting starting point for some creative filmmaking in the irreverent Muppet style from the glory days of Jim Henson.

Those are my ideas. What are yours?

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