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Our favourite book adaptations

In a World Book Day special, we look at our favourite book-to-film adaptations to watch now...

Written by High Life North
Published 03.03.2021

By Chris Kingston

As thousands of children dress up as their favourite characters from novels and comics for World Book Day this week, HLN is also celebrating the magic of a good book. 

In This World Book Day special, we look at some of our favourite book adaptions for young and old to enjoy, either available on-demand now or coming to screens soon.

So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…    


For younger readers

The Witches – Amazon / Sky – Available now 

Based on the Roland Dahl book of the same name from 1983, and narrated by Chris Rock, it stars Anne Hathaway who steals the show as the Grand High Witch. When a little boy (Jahzir Kadeen) and his grandmother (Octavia Spencer) cross paths with a group of witches at a seaside resort they must race against time to stop their nefarious plans. It is the second adaptation of the book – the first is a classic directed by Nicolas Roeg and starred the legendary Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch. In my personal opinion, this is nowhere near as good as the 1990 film, however, it’s still entertaining and the acting and visual effects are top notch. It should keep the kids quiet for an hour or two!      


The Secret Garden – Sky and Now TV – Available now

Based on the 1911 novel by Frances Hodsion Burnett, the latest adaption of this classic novel sees the action shift its period setting from the turn of the century to 1947, as we follow Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx) a spoiled 10-year-old girl who grew up in India. When her parents die, Mary is sent to live with her uncle and soon discovers that the house has many secrets including a key that leads her to a secret garden. The film also stars Colin Firth as Uncle Archibald and Julie Walters as housekeeper Mrs Medlock. You will definitely be ready for spring after watching this one. 

Shadow and Bone – Netflix – 23 April

Based on the popular series of books by Leigh Bardugo, Netflix releases its latest epic new fantasy series following heroine Alina (Jessie Mei Li) who is recruited to become a soldier for a magical army known as Grisha. She must learn to hone her powers and figure out who she can trust as only she potentially holds the key to help her war-torn world from a threat known as the Shadow Fold. Ben Barnes himself is no stranger to the Fantasy genre having starred in The Chronicles of Narnia films. This looks epic. 

Cruella – Disney + – 28 May 

Another reimaging of a classic book, Emma Stone of La La Land fame takes on one of the most iconic Disney villains of all time Cruella de Vil and gives her an origin story. Based on the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians Emma Thompson also co-stars as Baroness von Hellman

Peter Rabbit 2 – 21 May

The first Peter Rabbit movie was a surprise hit in 2018 making the sequel inevitable. A mix of CGI and live action, James Corden returns to voice Peter and Margot Robbie and Elizabeth Debicki star as his sisters Flopsy and Mopsy. Rose Bryne plays Bea who is loosely based on the legendary author Beatrix Potter.   


The Larkins – ITV – Coming soon 

Anyone of a certain age will remember The Darling Buds of May, a heart-warming family drama set in the late 1950s which was a TV series released (whisper it…30 years ago) based on the book of the same name by HE Bates. The TV series starred Sir David Jason as Pop Larkin and Catherine Zeta Jones as his daughter Mariette. We can’t wait for the new version as Bradley Walsh will be taking over the role of Pop. We will have to wait ‘til winter to see this one but hopefully, it will be worth the wait. 

For Adult Readers 

Death On The Nile – 17th September

Queen of crime fiction Agatha Christie wrote this novel in 1937 and was inspired by her expeditions with her archaeologist husband Max Mallowan. Nearly all of her novels have been adapted for TV and cinema. It follows 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express and he again plays Hercule Poirot who must investigate a list of suspects including Gal Gadot, Annette Bening and former comedic duo Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Hopefully by September we will all be watching this at the cinema when they reopen.  


Where The Crawdads Sing – TBR 

Where The Crawdads Sing written by American writer Delia Owens is a coming of age tale following the story of Kya, a young girl growing up in a shack in the marshlands of North Carolina. Though she is an outsider, Kya puts aside her personal struggles and difficulties managing to create a life for herself. However, when a body is discovered, Kya becomes the prime suspect. After the book release in 2018, Reese Witherspoon chose the book as part of her book club which launched it to the top of the bestseller list. Daisy Edgar-Jones who recently starred in TV’s Normal People has been cast as Kya. 

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