Ten children's book characters we want to see on the big screen

Last week I took my kids to the movies. We always see a new film in the school holidays – it's become a bit of a family tradition. And we have to get there early so we can watch all the trailers beforehand to work out what we'll see next. Last week's trailers were for Blinky Bill and Snoopy. Both films are animated and both based on best-selling books. What I found interesting was that my kids were super-excited about both films because they were based on characters they loved. It didn't matter that Snoopy was a big-budget American film, and that Blinky Bill was Australian-made. What mattered to them was seeing characters they'd heard and seen in their heads and on the page come to animated life.

So on the way home from the movies, as we caught the bus through the wintery Melbourne backstreets, we talked about other book characters we'd like to see up on the big screen. And as we talked we realised how few Australian children's books get adapted for television or film. My daughter said how much she'd loved hearing Australian voices in Paper Planes, and so we've decided we need more. This list is a short list of characters we've loved in our house. Mostly they are characters that would appeal to children rather than teenagers, but I could easily add another ten great YA characters who need to make it to the big screen (think Skylark Martin from Girl Defective, Shadow from Graffiti Moon or Wolfboy from This is Shyness).

1. My daughter loves the Truly Tan series by Jen Storer and thinks Tan would make a great film-character because she's spunky, fierce and she confronts her fears. My daughter also pointed out that there aren't nearly enough Australian girl characters on the big-screen, and Tan would be a perfect addition.

Ten children's book to film adaptions we want now.
Ten children's book to film adaptions we want now. Photo: Getty

2. The crocodile from Roald Dahl's The Enormous Crocodile. If ever a character captured the imagination of little kids, it's this one. A grotesque, terrifying beast, who tries to eat children as they play, my son voted to see him in 3D so you'd feel like you were going to be eaten too.

3. Bottersnikes and Gumbles from the Bottersnikes and Gumbles series by S.A Wakefield. Without a doubt these are my favourite childhood books, and the characters are built for the screen. Set in the Australian bush the books chronicle a fairly comical battle between the lazy, destructive Bottersnikes and the good-natured, hardworking Gumbles. The Gumbles can squash into any shape without being hurt, and the Bottersnikes eat mattress stuffing. Pixar eat your heart out!

4. Pigeon from the Mo Willems' series. Having recently seen the Minions movie, surely the Pigeon would make a much more interesting and fleshed-out character. In each book the pigeon wants something – a cookie, a hotdog, to drive a bus, etc and is constantly thwarted. He is darkly comical and would make a great lead character. 

5. Kumiko from the Kumiko and the Dragon series by author Briony Stewart. Unlike the mighty battles of Hiccup and Toothless, Kumiko's adventures with the dragon that lives outside her bedroom are much more magical and whimsical. She is a fantastic strong and interesting character who discovers a strength she never knew she had.

6. Andy and Terry from the Treehouse books. The appeal of these characters rests more on the delight of the world in which they live that would make a fantastic and ever-changing setting for craziness and adventure. I've included them for my son!

7. Holden Caulfield from J D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Haven't we all wanted to see Holden Caulfield on the big screen? I definitely have. Since the first moment I entered his world when I was a teenager, I've imagined how he looks and how he walks and as much as I fear the adaptation would probably disappoint me, I still live in hope.

8. Sif from Ruth Park's My Sister Sif. Other Ruth Park books have been successfully adapted, but My Sister Sif hasn't. And yet it beautifully blends fantasy and magic with real-world longing and pain. Sif is a merperson who is torn between her underwater world and the family she loves on the land. Imagine all the wonder of The Secret of Roan Inish, but with characters and a setting closer to home.

9. Moonface, Silky and Saucepan Man from Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree. Having grown-up in the world of the Faraway Tree and loving the places they went, I'm delighted to see that for the first time ever, a live-action film version of these books is currently being made by Sam Mendes (American Beauty). I just hope he manages to allow the girls to have as many adventures as the boys.

10. August from R J Palacio's book Wonder. August wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old boy but he was born with a terrible facial abnormality. He feels normal on the inside but normal kids don't make other kids run away screaming. August is complicated and real and challenges the way we look at the world.