Books

Stories inspire plenty of fall movies

Jack Black stars in “Goosebumps,” a movie based on R.L. Stine’s funny-scary series for young readers.
Jack Black stars in “Goosebumps,” a movie based on R.L. Stine’s funny-scary series for young readers. Hopper Stone, SMPSP

J.K. Rowling’s seven-title “Harry Potter” franchise (1997-2007) was loudly hailed as the vehicle that got young people to read. Among other books that accomplished the same thing, but on a smaller scale, were Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy, Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy, Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series and James Dashner’s “Maze Runner” series. All have been translated to the big screen.

Now it’s R.L. Stine’s turn, with “Goosebumps,” the movie version of his aggregated 62-title ’tween-centric series (1992-97), starring Jack Black (due Oct. 16). As a movie tie-in campaign, Scholastic Publishing has reissued 11 “Goosebumps” titles and published eight new ones.

Let’s remember that Stine, 71, enticed children to read before any of them had a chance to follow the adventures of Harry and Hermione. Between “Goosebumps” and his 55-title “Fear Street” series, he has sold more than 350 million copies worldwide at last count. It certainly didn’t hurt that “Goosebumps” was a hit series on Fox TV from 1995 till 1998.

“I’m really pleased with the film,” Stine said in an email. “It’s scary and funny at the same time, which is exactly what I try to do with all my books. It’s especially exciting to see all the monsters I created in the early books come to life.”

Hollywood continues to mine gold from the printed page, a time-honored, symbiotic dynamic. Upcoming book-to-movie titles include:

▪ Bill Bryson’s delightfully funny “A Walk in the Woods” recounts his hiking adventures on the Appalachian Trail, with rascally longtime friend Stephen Katz. The movie stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. Due Sept. 2. Bryson has appeared for the Bee Book Club.

▪ In his best-selling memoir “Into Thin Air” (1997), Jon Krakauer recounts his disastrous expedition on Mount Everest. “Everest” stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley and Josh Brolin. Due Sept. 18.

▪ “The Martian” by Andy Weir was a self-published book about an astronaut stranded on Mars, which was picked up by Random House. Now the Ridley Scott-directed movie stars Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Kristen Wiig. Due Oct. 2.

▪ “Bridge of Spies,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, is based on “Strangers on a Bridge” by James B. Donovan, the historical biography about the 1960 U-2 spy-plan scandal. Due Oct. 16.

▪ “The Secret in Their Eyes” is a thriller involving an MI5 agent working a murder case with the FBI, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts. From the novel by Eduardo Sacheri. Due Nov. 20.

▪ “Carol” examines the tense relationship between two women who work in a department store in the 1950s, starring Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett and Sarah Paulson. From the Patricia Highsmith novel “The Price of Salt.” Due Nov. 20.

▪ It’s said the true incident of a sperm whale attacking a whaling ship in 1820 gave Herman Melville the idea for his 1851 novel “Moby Dick.” Nathaniel Philbrick’s historic account is the basis of “In the Heart of the Sea,” directed by Ron Howard, starring Chris Hemsworth and Cillian Murphy. Due Dec. 11.

▪ Set in the 1820s American frontier, “The Revenant” starts Leonardo DiCaprio as a fur trapper who is attacked by a grizzly bear, robbed by thieves and left for dead. His quest for revenge is epic. Tom Hardy co-stars. From the novel by Michael Punke. Due Dec. 25.

P.S.: DiCaprio recently signed to play serial killer Dr. H.H. Holmes in the film adaptation (it’s “in development”) of “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson, who has appeared for the Bee Book Club.

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

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