05 January 2010

My Favorite Rant: The Church Mouse

As I'm catching up on the pile of professional periodicals in my in-tray (a quicker task than it might sound, since I've already read half of each issue on-line,) I came across this article from Publisher's Weekly about the rising cache in Hollywood of picture books as vehicles for full-length motion pictures. Both Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Where the Wild Things Are did well enough in 2009 to ensure that more picture books will find their way to the big screen. And as filmmakers try to strike the right balance between name recognition and adaptable storytelling, can I please put forward my hobby-horse, as it were, for consideration: Graham Oakley's The Church Mouse. I've written before about my complete and utter amazement that this book, and the corresponding series, has gone out of print. And although I'm not always a fan of film adaptations of beloved books, this is a situation where the exposure afforded by Hollywood might be just the thing this book needs to get it back in the public eye.

And for a filmmaker, what's not to love? It is a more sophisticated story than your average picture book aimed at the 4-8 age bracket, so there is no need to fluff it up for a 90 minute time-frame. There are loads of characters--perfect for attracting an A-list of celebrity voices--which eliminates the need of creating additional characters for the screen. The numerous sequels lend themselves to franchise building. The all-animal cast will appeal to everyone, as will the story of the Church Mouse and his friend, the cat Samson, who has listened to so many sermons about brotherly love that he cannot eat the mice living in the church. The hijinks! The bucolic English setting! The CGI possabilities abound! If there are any interns trawling the cybersphere for cinematic inspiration, look no further than The Church Mouse. And if there are any publishers thinking to bring back a classic, PLEASE bring these books back! I can't mend my copies any more than I already have, and the secondary market is prophibitive.

10 comments:

Amy Nichols said...

I'm so glad I found your blog through the Comment Challenge, Kara. Not only am I also a Dr Who fan (grieving the departure of DT), but I love getting recommendations for good picture books. The ones on your blog look amazing. I hope to read them to my kids. Thank you!

Kara Schaff Dean said...

Thanks for the comment, Amy! Ten might be gone, but thanks to the glory of DVD, he's not lost to us!

Jan von Harz said...

Great post only problem is I now would like to read the book. Who knows maybe some film maker will run across you post and take up the gauntlet.

Kara Schaff Dean said...

Well, with any luck, Jan, you or local library will have a copy or can get it for you. The whole series is delightful and full of sensible humor and highly detailed illustrations (I I read somewhere that the author used to be a set designer for the BBC.)It's a great example of a picture book that older readers (i.e. kids supposedly too old for picture books) can read to themselves and feel accomplished. Also a lot of fun for sharing one-on-one because of the illustrations.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sherry said...

It's hard to believe all the wonderful children's book that go out of print and become almost impossible to find. The Church Mouse books. The Mousekin books by Edna Miller. My favorite nostalgia books, the Snipp, Snapp, Snurr books by Maj Lindmann are only available in cheap paperback editions that fall apart as soon as you read them twice.

maclibrary said...

This is such a great book and it would make for a movie.

Marge Loch-Wouters said...

Church Mice forever! I held together the copies at the last library I worked at with tape, glue and spit because they are so special. I am sure they have been long since tossed and what a loss.

Camille said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Church Mouse/Church Cat books. So canny, so wry, so witty, so much humor in the illustrations. I had not realized they were out of print now. Zut! So glad I came by here via the Comment Challenge. You are a kindred spirit in all things Graham Oakley.

Jaymie said...

Your "rant" inspired me to rush to my library's website to see if they had The Church Mouse... and they don't. I am so disappointed. I may just have to request it through ILL. Thanks for the recommendation!

Playing by the book said...

Hmm, I don't think I can really endorse the idea of turning another kids picture book into a film (I haven't been able to bring myself to see Where the Wild Things Are), BUT The Church Mouse and the whole series IS indeed wonderful - fortunately our library has many of them so we've been enjoying them recently.

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