From Page to Screen: Old Yeller

I’ve talked on here before about my hesitance concerning depressing animal books for children.

There are a lot of books/movies that could be added to the list of depressing animal stories for kids, and Old Yeller is definitely one of them.

However, even though it is the granddaddy of all depressing animal books for kids, it is a story that I have a soft spot for. In fact, I’ve reread it a few times and always enjoy it. I can’t deny that it is terribly sad, but I think it has a lot of good things to offer before it rips your heart out and depresses you for days.

Though the book is something I have revisited on numerous occasions as an adult, I have not watched the movie since I was a child. I remedied that this past weekend.

As always, beware–some spoilers do follow.

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Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse (1982)

War Horse

Joey is just a lovely, somewhat high-strung bay horse, living on a small Devon farm, with his beloved teenaged owner Alfred when World War I breaks out. He’s soon sold to the British military and, thus, begins Joey’s odyssey as a military horse for both the British and the Germans. Along the way, he meets several owners and finds himself doing everything from charging into battle to hauling artillery to pulling ambulance wagons.

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From Page to Screen: In Cold Blood (1967) and In Cold Blood (1996)

My love for Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (which some ungenerous souls might call an obsession) has been well documented on this blog.

But my interest in the story transcends the book. The 1967 film adaptation is one of my favorite movies and is one of the examples I always point to when people claim that a movie can never be as good as the book.

A few months ago, I watched the 1996 miniseries adaptation of the story with my coworker Jen. If the 1967 version is one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen, the 1996 version is easily one of the absolute worst.

Usually the “From Page to Screen” series is a venue for me to compare and contrast books with their adaptations. But this is my series and my rules, and I’ve decided to bend the rules for this one. So, this month we’re comparing and contrasting two adaptations and exploring why one is considered a masterpiece and the other, well, isn’t. Let’s just call it Screen vs. Screen for this month.

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Allison Hoover Bartlett’s The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

The Man Who Loved Books

In thinking about true crimes of passion I could relate to, the title of this book most definitely caught my eye!

John Gilkey’s claim to fame as a career criminal was not how much he stole but what he stole: rare books, mostly.  Why specialize in stealing rare books? Writer Allison Hoover Bartlett wanted to find out and by following his story provides a look not only into the motivations behind his crimes but also into the world of legitimate rare book collectors, stories of other book thieves, and the story of the man who tracked Gilkey down, Utah antique book dealer Ken Sanders.

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From Page to Screen: Longmire

The fight is real . . . at least for Walt Longmire.  As sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, Walt never has a dull day as he works to solve crimes, contend with family, friends, coworkers, and confront the personal demons that have haunted him since the death of his wife.

Craig Johnson’s sheriff is the focus of a series of a books, as well as a popular television series. I have had numerous people recommend the books and the TV show to me, so comparing the first entries in both seemed perfect for our next “From Page to Screen” feature.

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Paulette Jiles’s News of the World

news-of-the-world

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd has a mission that he did not ask for nor one that he wishes, though he readily admits the necessity of his journey. A news reader who makes his living traveling between rough frontier towns in the tension-filled midst of Reconstruction-era Texas, he is asked to return a 10-year-old girl to her family. The child, Johanna, was captured by Kiowa years earlier and seems to have no memory of her former life or native language. She just wants to return to her adopted tribe and keeps trying to run away every chance she gets. As the two travel hundreds of miles together through a land beset by raiding parties and criminals, complications ensue.

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From Page to Screen: The Girl on the Train

Rachel Watson has, to put it mildly, seen better days.

An unstable alcoholic who is prone to blackouts, she no longer has a husband, job, or home. Instead, she’s reduced to living with a friend and spending her days riding the train because she has nothing better to do with her time. She distracts herself by watching a couple who live in a house next to the railway track.

As she rides by every day, she crafts a story in her head about this seemingly perfect couple. She gives them names and occupations and hobbies. And, yes, that’s as creepy as it sounds. This unhinged respite from her own troubled life is shaken one day when she rides by and sees something that shatters the illusions she has created in her own imagination.

Even more worryingly, she learns soon that the woman who lives in the house has disappeared. Rachel starts to suspect that she may know more about the case than she realizes, but she can’t remember anything. Complications ensue.

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