BBCP Pages to Pictures: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
This summer I decided to take part in Nori @ ReadWriteLove28‘s Book Blogger Creativity Project! For this project teams of book bloggers were created that had to work together to create a series of book related posts. I was on the Magenta Team and we created ‘Pages to Pictures,’ a series of posts where each one of us has “adapted” a book into a movie form: cast the actors for each character, said where it should be filmed, listed what scenes need to be included in the movie, and so on.
For the movie adaptation I created I decided to take a slightly different approach by putting together an animated movie. I choose for my book one of my absolute favorites, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. I have long considered how this crazy middle grade book could be adapted for the screen so I thought it only right that it be the one I write about. I believe animation is the only way to do this one because while special effects are super amazing now, a lot of what appears in this book is absurd (knights! hidden kingdoms in the middle of the ocean! dinosaurs! monsters made out of shredded paper!) and trying to pair it with the realism of live actors would frankly just make it look a bit like a b-list horror film.
This is an aspect I’ve waffled around with a lot because there are just so many possibilities, but in the end I’ve figured it would be best created in the style that most animated feature films have been lately: kind of false and bubbly with a slightly 3D effect.
Though I also think that the flat style commonly seen in many cartoon shows would also work really well in this book. Then again, if the animation looked exactly like the covers or the illustrations from the new Tor Teen editions of this book series, I would have no complaints.
Characters + Voice Actors
I love movies and tv shows, but if I’m honest I know next to nothing about actors. There are a few of them (*ahem* the entire cast of The Newsroom) that I can recognize instantly but… that’s about it. So, for the characters I’ve decided to suggest what I think their voices could/should sound like, and an actor or two that would make a good voice for them.
(admittedly some of these characters don’t show up until book two, but I’ve written about those that I have the clearest picture of)
Alcatraz: If I’m entirely honest I have no idea how the voice of our snarky, nerdy, cynical protagonist should sound. The problem with Alcatraz is no voice I’ve ever heard seems right because I’ve never heard any role try to be Alcatraz. I do believe that this role would maybe need two Alcatraz’s: whether it’s the same voice ‘aged up’ or two different ones so that the older Alcatraz (who is supposedly writing these stories) can speak in the monologues and such… I feel like I wouldn’t know what or who is right for this role until I would see it.
Bastille: While she is really much more than that, from a movie stand point Bastille is the perfect example of a “tough girl” role. She talks smart and fast, most of the time she is serious and curt, and she definitely has the best deadpan of the group. Honestly, I love Bastille so much that I would take the role (joking, I can’t act) but the first actor I think of is Beth Riesgraf based on her role in Leverage as the thief Parker.
Leavenworth (Grandpa Smedry): Leavenworth is really the only character whose voice actor I had picked long before I started writing this post. Grandpa Smedry is a kind, fun, completely nuts old man, and I see him as a slightly more jovial version of Charlie Skinner in The Newsroom. Therefore, the only voice I can think of for him is Sam Waterston.
Kazan: Kaz is the main traveller of the group, and is mostly pretty gruff, though he (like all of them) has his own shade of ridiculous. For example, one of his hobbies is keeping a list of why short people are better than tall people. For some reason Don Cheadle comes to mind for this role, but I don’t have any true preference in a voice for Kaz.
Australia: My favorite description that is ever given within the book for Australia is that “[she] is smart, but she forgets it sometimes.” (or something like that, I’m paraphrasing) Australia is bright, optimistic, and a little bit oblivious. I feel like Rowan Blanchard gives off that sort of ‘innocent and ridiculous but still very smart/competent’ when she plays Riley Mathews in Girl Meets World, so I think she could be a good choice.
Scenes to Include
Because these books are so short, and because about half of each one is made up of Alcatraz’s monologues, theoretically I believe a movie of this book could contain every scene. But, if not, here’s a short list of what needs to be included:
- Showing Alcatraz in foster care… And maybe burning down a house or two
- Leavenworth and Al’s first meeting (even just because it’s hilarious)
- Bastille beating up Alcatraz with her purse (ditto)
- The paper monster
- The jail scene (I figured this could actually be cut but the character development is actually really crucial)
What could be cut:
- Everything at the gas station
- The dinosaurs (even though I love them)
- The hook at the beginning… (probably shouldn’t put it there in case it’s never resolved in movie form)
As for the monologue portions of the books… A lot of those do need to be included for most things to make sense. I think it could be done in voice overs, freeze frames, or some sort of combination of those kind of things but there is crucial info that doesn’t happen within the outward plot that I think this story shouldn’t lose.