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Kid's Novels

Notable Books | Five children's novels that Hollywood will soon turn into movies

1. Tuck Everlasting

PLOT The Tuck family unwittingly drinks from an enchanted spring, which keeps them from aging or dying.

GIST Eternal life in this world is not all it's cracked up to be, the Tucks discover. As generations pass, the Tucks remain frozen at their same ages. "I want to grow again and change," Mr. Tuck tells Winnie, a young girl who discovers their secret. When a mysterious stranger gets his hands on the secret and aims to sell the water to "those who deserve it," the Tucks are forced to act.

2. Holes

PLOT Stanley Yelnats is wrongly accused of stealing a pair of sneakers and is sent to a juvenile detention facility at Camp Green Lake in west Texas.

GIST Stanley is a loser from a long line of losers. It's all the fault of his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather" for initiating a curse that has been bringing bad luck to the family for generations. At Camp Green Lake, which isn't a camp and has no lake, Stanley reaches the end of the Yelnatses' bad luck.

3. Ella Enchanted

PLOT A charming retelling of the Cinderella story with a twist: Because of a misguided fairy gift given to her at birth, Ella cannot disobey.

GIST Although Ella cannot disobey a direct command, she doesn't have to be happy about it. When others learn her secret, she becomes their virtual slave, forced to do whatever they ask-even when she knows it is wrong. Finally, Ella-for love's sake and the sake of the kingdom-resists the spell, and by doing so is freed from it.

4. Artemis Fowl

PLOT Artemis Fowl is only 12, but he's already a criminal mastermind. He plots to steal from the fairies their legendary pot of gold.

GIST The author of this genre-bending novel calls it "Die Hard with fairies." A cunning boy matches wits and gizmos with high-tech fairies and their allies from the lower elements. The book is a natural for Hollywood, with its pitting of brave fairy policewoman Holly Short against anti-hero Artemis Fowl. And though it seems that Fowl might repent of his evil, he never does.

5. The Cricket in Times Square

PLOT What happens when a cricket from Connecticut ends up in the middle of busy New York City?

GIST This Newbery Medal-winning novel has been popular with children for 40 years. Beautifully written and deftly characterized, it's a classic fish-out-of-water story that delights children with its humor, delightful detail, and graceful writing. Filmmakers will struggle to retain that charm through a combination of computer-generated graphics and live action.

In the spotlight

Hollywood has discovered children's literature, according to a recent story in Publishers Weekly. With the success of many recent movies based on children's books (Shrek!, Harry Potter, and Stuart Little), big Hollywood studios are snapping up the rights to children's novels as never before. Hollywood doesn't always do a good job converting books to film, but several of these adaptations had author involvement in the filming process. Tuck Everlasting, scheduled for release on Oct. 11, has a big-name cast that includes Sissy Spacek, Ben Kingsley, and William Hurt. Because of the involvement of author Natalie Babbitt, the movie's ending is likely to mirror the novel's. Holes, the 1998 novel by Louis Sacher, is already in post-production. It stars Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, and Patricia Arquette. Since Mr. Sacher also wrote the film's screenplay, readers should expect a movie that stays faithful to the book. Miramax owns the rights to Ella Enchanted (which begins filming this month), Artemis Fowl (scheduled to begin filming in October), and The Cricket in Times Square.

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