Hyannis's books


Friday, January 30, 2009

Junior Novelizations...?

Check the catalog for this book!

My 8-year-old daughter recently received as a gift a second copy of The Tale of Despereaux. The original book, which I purchased for her a few months ago, was written by Kate DiCamillo in 2003, and won the John Newbery Medal. It is a wonderful story about a mouse with exceptionally large ears who refuses to live by the traditional, timid rules of being a mouse. It is such a great story, in fact, that a movie version of the book is currently in theaters.

Yet this second copy of the book was not written by Kate DiCamillo, but by Jamie Michalak. I only know this because the inside title page states that this book is based on the motion picture screenplay, and Ms. DiCamillo’s book. The cover does say, in discreet letters, “A Junior Novelization”, and doesn’t give direct credit to any author at all. Kind of tricky.

If I let my daughter read this copy of the book, will she ever take the time to read the original? Will worthy details get lost in the shortened version? And why did Candlewick Press feel it was necessary to publish two versions? Do we really give our young readers so little credit that we assume many won’t have the perseverance to read the original book in its entirety?

The Tale of Despereaux certainly isn’t the only book to be shortened into junior novelization form. So read the fine print before you select a book for kids, to make sure you’re getting what you want…!

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