Five books to read before you see the movies

Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins Returns.
Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins Returns. Photo: DISNEY

If you're one of those families that insist their kids read the book before seeing the movie, there's some serious page-turning in your future.

And if you're happy just to be able to go to the movies for some kid- and teen-friendly fare, you're in luck, too. From the timely, thought-provoking high school drama "The Hate U Give" to a classic like "Mary Poppins," kids' books and young adult novels are getting the Hollywood treatment.

And now that movie trailers, sneak peeks, and behind-the-scenes footage hit the internet months in advance of films' releases, kids' excitement for big-screen adaptations of their favourite books starts early.

Check out the film adaptations hitting the big screen in 2018 and early 2019 to see if you'd like to read up before you step up to the box office.

1. "Goosebumps" by R.L. Stine

(in cinemas as "Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween" October 11, 2018; targeted to kids and tweens)

Who's in it: Wendi McLendon-Covey, Jack Black

This sequel to the 2015 "Goosebumps" movie is based on Stine's spooky book series where monsters, mummies, and ventriloquist dummies come alive.

Why we're excited: Kid favourite Jack Black ("Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle") stars as "Goosebumps" creator R.L. Stine, an author who blends suspense and horror with humour and puts his protagonists in scary - but not too scary - situations they invariably overcome.

Scholastic published more than 60 "Goosebumps" chapter books from 1992 to 1997, and the best-selling franchise, which has sold more than 350 million books worldwide, also spawned a TV series. Kids can't get enough "Goosebumps" in any form.


2. "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas

(in cinemas January 10, 2019; targeted to teens)

Who's in it: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, K.J. Apa, Common

This award-winning young-adult novel is a powerful, thought-provoking look at race, racism and activism. It centres on an African American teen girl who attends a predominantly white school and must decide what to do after she witnesses a police shooting of an unarmed black teen - who's her best friend.

Why we're excited: This book has been at the top of the YA best-sellers list since it came out in February 2017 and continues to be timely and topical. There are also strong messages about standing up for what you believe when it would be much easier not to. We think this is a great film for parents and teens to see together, with lots to discuss after.

3. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" by J.K. Rowling

(in cinemas as "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" November 16, 2018; targeted to tweens and teens)

Who's in it: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Johnny Depp

Rowling's short book purports to be a Hogwarts textbook that describes various beasts and dragons but doesn't tell a story. The first film adaptation introduced Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), the author of that textbook, who catalogs magical creatures while living in New York's secret community of witches and wizards in the 1920s - 70 years before Harry Potter first arrived at Hogwarts.

Why we're excited: In this sequel, Scamander gets caught up in a war between Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). That's a whole lot of star power in addition to fun/scary fantasy violence and the return of fun characters from the first movie.

4. "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" by Dr. Seuss

(in cinemas as "The Grinch" November 29; targeted to kids)

Who's in it: Voice talents of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones

This classic Christmas read-aloud features one of the funniest scoundrels in children's literature: the mean, green Grinch, who aims to stop Christmas by impersonating Santa and stealing every last possession from the Whos of Whoville. Seuss subtly exposes greed and commercialism, while promoting the values of love and community with wit, humour, and flawlessly constructed rhymes.

Why we're excited: Fans disagree on which screen version of the Grinch is best: the animated 1962 TV special or the 2000 live-action version with Jim Carrey. This new version should make the debate even more interesting. This adaptation stretches the story to feature-film length but uses cutting-edge CGI. Could it be the best of both worlds?

5. "Mary Poppins" by P.L. Travers

(in cinemas as "Mary Poppins Returns" January 1, 2019; targeted to kids)

Who's in it: Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Lin-Manuel Miranda

P.L. Travers' classic children's novel about a quirky nanny who transforms the Banks family of London is charming and magical, if a bit old-fashioned. It offers timeless lessons about good manners and understanding other points of view.

Why we're excited: Set in Depression-era London, with Jane and Michael Banks all grown up, "Mary Poppins Returns" is a sequel to the original "Mary Poppins" starring Julie Andrews.

Plus, it'll be fun to see Hamilton star/creator Lin-Manuel Miranda as Mary's lamplighter friend Jack in a venue we can afford! Rob Marshall ("Into the Woods," "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides") directs. And Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the team behind Hairspray, wrote the songs, so you know they'll be catchy.

Common Sense Media