From page to screen in 2017

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2017

I always get excited when I hear that one of my favorite books is going to be turned in a movie or TV show. I’m very excited about 2017!

I listed Liane Moriarty as one of my favorite authors in a previous column, so it’s no surprise that I’m thrilled about “Big Little Lies” premiering on HBO last month. The show stars Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley, whose kids all attend school together. The three women are friends and are in some way connected to a murder. The mystery in the book was revealed slowly but suspensefully so I hope the television version does it justice. I have seen the pilot and it was intriguing; I’m eager to watch the additional six episodes in the miniseries.

The film version of “Wonder,” adapted from R.J. Palacio’s 2012 novel, is being released on April 7. It stars 10-year old Jacob Tremblay as August (he was fantastic in the 2015 film version of Emma Donoghue’s “Room”) and Julia Roberts as his mom. Stephen Chbosky (who wrote and directed yet another one of my favorite book-to-movie adaptations, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”) is directing “Wonder.” So basically the film is guaranteed to be amazing. I read the children’s chapter book several years ago and it remains one of my all-time favorites. The story follows Auggie, who was born with facial deformities, as he makes the scary transition of starting middle school after being homeschooled during his childhood years.

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The popularity of classic dystopian novels has surged recently, and if you’re going to jump on that bandwagon, might I suggest “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood? I didn’t read the 1985 novel until last year as I’m always reluctant to read classics. However, the book was great and I have high hopes for the Hulu series as well. The show stars Elisabeth Moss (of “Mad Men” fame) as Offred, a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead (formerly the USA). A radical political group has taken over the government and instilled extreme tactics to repress women. Handmaids are kept for reproductive purposes during this time of declining births due to sterility from pollution and sexually transmitted diseases. The premise is interesting and I’ll be watching when it premieres on April 26.

“Everything, Everything” was my favorite of all the books I read last year. The film version of Nicola Yoon’s 2015 young adult novel is being released on May 19. Eighteen-year-old Maddie suffers from “bubble baby” syndrome and can’t leave her house because she is basically allergic to everything in the outside world. She has only her mom and nurse to keep her company… Until a new family moves next door and she starts communicating with their teenage son Olly.

I also read “American Gods” last year, thanks to the suggestions of my coworker (hi Martha!). The 2001 Neil Gaiman novel will be a Starz TV show starring Ian McShane (Al Swearengen on my favorite TV show of all time, “Deadwood”). In the fantasy novel, gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them. Their power has diminished in recent years as new gods have arisen, reflecting America’s obsessions with celebrity, technology, drugs, etc. Shadow, the main character, is released from prison early when his wife dies in a car accident. He accepts a job offer as a bodyguard for a mysterious con man called Mr. Wednesday (played by McShane) and they travel across America visiting Wednesday’s unusual colleagues as the old gods and new gods prepare to battle.

Other stories moving from the page to the screen in 2017 include “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” “The Adventures of Captain Underpants,” “Before I Fall,” “It,” and “The Terror.” Which adaptation are you most eagerly anticipating?

Jen Pace Dickenson is the Youth Services Librarian at Polk County Public Library. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call 828-894-8721.