With Where The Wild Things Are stomping into cinemas on Friday 11 December we take a look at characters that have chomped their way out of the pages of the most beloved children’s illustrated books and gone on to cause a wild rumpus on the big screen.
If there is one animal in the forest to be afraid of it is the Gruffalo! Following the journey of a mouse as he uses his cunning to fend off suspecting predators by inflating the myth of the gruesome Gruffalo. Little does the little creature know that the Gruffalo is no mere piece of fiction but a monstrous and grotesque creature, intent on devouring our tiny protagonist. Adapted for the stage in 2001, it is currently treading the boards of the Apollo Theatre, but that is not all! The Gruffalo will be stomping its way onto our small screens this Christmas with the voice talents of Robbie Coltrane as the Gruffalo; Helena Bonham Carter, Rob Brydon, James Corden, John Hurt and Tom Wilkinson
Kids love a good rhyme and shout and there is no better way to combine the two than with ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ by Michael Rosen. Following a family as they trek, splash, jump and shout their way on the search for a bear and leads to a dark cave on the other side of a dark forest. When reading it with kids the use of onomatopoeia (although they may not know it as such yet!) will really draw them in as they “squelch, squerch”, “swishy swashy” their way to the cave and culminating in thrilling chase that will get the whole family looking for a game of hide and seek!
The most colour coordinated and immaculately dressed bear you are ever likely to read, Rupert the Bear and his animal friends, Pong Ping the Pekinese and Bill Badger, have been followed in many a magical adventure over the last century. Created by Mary Tourtel in the 1920s and appearing in the Daily Express as a means of grabbing readership from the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, Rupert went on to be much, much more than a mere comic strip. Over the years Rupert has been reborn into annuals, books and several long running television series and recently making the jump from 2D hand drawn animation and joined the world of CGI!
Created by David McKee, who was responsible for other childhood illustrated favourite Elmer the patchwork elephant, Mr Benn follows a character who, despite looking smart and ready for work always had time to visit his local fancy dress shop. Once there and donning his costume of choice he would be transported to a world of magical make believe. From clown to cowboy and pirate to wizard Mr Benn always managed to lend a helping hand and come away with a memento to remember his trippy visit. Despite only running thirteen animated episodes, Mr Benn was voted the sixth most popular childrens television series of all time!
In a fictional world that has enough mayhem to rival the busy pages of Where’s Wally, the illustrated books of Richard Scarry feature some of the most charming characters ever confined to the pages of a book. Featuring cats, dogs, mice, worms, foxes, sheep and pigs among many more, Scarry portrayed a transnational and happily multicultural world. The chaotic busytown features in several collections and was turned into a short running television series in the nineties that can still be found on select childrens television channels. A true illustrated book if ever there was one, with every new read you will discover something new and hidden in the background.
Everybody’s favourite honey eating bear has never experienced a dip in the limelight ever since he was first created by A.A. Milne way back in 1926. Bought by Disney in the sixties, Winnie the Pooh has had many an adcenture in the hundred acre wood with the long running television series and big screen outings with the likes of The Tigger Movie and Piglet’s big movie. Surrounded by his friends piglet, eeyore and the hyperactive tigger Pooh is never far from mischief… or a pot of honey.
An early morning television favourite, Babar the Elephant has never been far from the child inside of us. Triggered by the poaching his mother, in a scene that rivals the death of Bambi’s mother , Babar is sent to France where he is educated in the company of his wider family. Upon his return, and the death of the king of the elephants as a result of a poisonous mushroom (alas the animal kingdom is a tough place), Babar is made king. Oringinally written by Jean de Brunhoff, the tales follow Babar in his trials and tribulations as king.
Maurice Sendak’s original illustrated book caused child psychologists to huff and puff as its protagonist Max argued with his mother, ran away from home and joined a rag-tag group of monsters who made him king. Whilst only twelve pages long the book has touched the hearts of millions, now it is in the faithful hands of director Spike Jonze and novelist Dave Eggers as they endeavor to make the a great book into an even better film. By the looks of the trailer and clips from the film they may have done the unimaginable and turned in a faithful adaptation that promises to not only bring the creatures to life with the help of the Jim Henson company but perfectly transfer the cheeky character of Max from page to screen in the form of child star Max Records. A fantastic soundtrack and gorgeous visuals will mean that Where The Wild Things Are will be the adaptation to watch this Christmas