A few years ago, I took my two eldest children to see How to Train Your Dragon at the cinema. I was excited. Taking my own children to see animated movies was a parental aspiration of mine. I was a little disappointed when they spent the last 20 minutes of the movie clambering over me and burying their faces in my shoulder to cover their eyes. They have overcome that now and love the movie as much as I do.
The movie wasn’t just a variation of the novel; it was a completely different story. The only similarities were the names of a few characters and the location. Dreamworks had taken Cressida’s story and created something so vastly different from the original, I found it hard not to be disappointed. But, I was disappointed for the author. The story she had spend hours plotting, developing her characters, and agonizing over word choice, had been gutted to the most minimal of frameworks and rebuilt. I imagined it would be like leaving your well loved, seaside cottage to the renovators and coming back to find a modernized monstrosity in its place. How could this happen? How did Cressida feel about this?
The difference between Cressida’s original story and the movie, both of which I enjoyed, has resulted in me taking an avid interest in children’s programs with “based on the books by …”. I have wondered, is the story true to the books, do the characters act and sound like the author intended, how much say did the author get in the development of the series? What did their contracts say? I have even given myself the luxury (or indulged in the fantasy) of asking myself, what conditions would I accept if I was offered a book contract?
If you would like to learn more about Cressida’s story and what she thinks about the differences between her books and the movie, please visit her website http://www.cressidacowell.co.uk