Book Shelf: Why are these titles not films yet?

Book Shelf: Like, hello, why are these titles not films yet?

With Diablo Cody's filmic adaptation of the Sweet Valley High series due out in 2012, Sweet Valley Confidential hitting book stores in April this year (join the Facebook page!) and childhood homes revisited over the Christmas break, we thought it timely to reminisce on titles cherished in our girlhoods that should most definitely be adapted for the big screen, like, really soon...

THE GIRL MOST LIKELY by Rebecca Sparrow

Hello, movie execs? A rather large portion of the Australian (and I surmise, international) public is yearning to see 27-year-old Rachel Hill eat Miracle Whip from the jar in her pyjamas, attempt to master the musical trickery of Green sleeves and gobble Fruit Loops galore on the big screen. For the not-yet-acquainted, Rebecca Sparrow’s hilarious debut follows Rachel, who was dubbed ‘the girl most likely to succeed’ in high school and, ten years later is living in her childhood bedroom with a failed Vegas wedding under her belt and a whole lot of time to dissect what went wrong. The message? Life doesn’t always deal the cards you were expecting. Bugger. Lucy


A vivid novel that’s tough to forget, Came Back to Show You I Could Fly was published in 1991 to critical acclaim and trails a lonely, introverted kid, 11-year-old Seymour Kerley, who is stuck with a family friend, for the summer holidays. Bored in the house alone, Seymour scales the back gate to explore the neighbourhood and meets Angie, a charismatic 20-year-old who is, unbeknownst to Seymour, pregnant, a drug addict, in heavy debt and deeply troubled. The book explores friendship, innocence, fragility, compassion and forgiveness. We’re envisioning a dishevelled, platinum blonde Isabel Lucas as the sweet, scattered Angie. Lucy

CHAIN OF HEARTS by Maureen McCarthy

With plenty of juicy material for scriptwriters to sink their teeth into, it’s a wonder Maureen McCarthy’s pearler, Chain of Hearts, hasn’t cropped up on the silver screen already. The novel, a transformation tale peppered with teenage angst, follows 17-year-old Sophie Douglas (who, like a few of her contemporaries, hates school, hates her parents and hates her life) as she’s forced to live with her aunt Fran in the country. Aunt Fran turns out to be something of an enigma, and the story interweaves three generations of Douglas women which prompts Sophie to question who she really is. Lucy

P.S. LONGER LETTER LATER by Paula Danziger & Ann M Martin

Stumbled upon after quickly paging through each and every Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High offering of the greater Brisbane library system, this little-known life changer tells just as classic a teenage tale. Through alternating epistles, polar-opposite besties Tara*Starr and Elizabeth share the experiences of their 13th year. Dealing with their separation after Tara moves out of town, rejection and jealousy as replacement friendships are forged, and of course the requisite discovery of boys, peer pressure, struggles with popularity and acceptance, and family issues, the girls’ long-distance friendship is tried and tested but always kept strong. Although the very premise of the story’s presentation causes a sucker for ye olde letter-writing to wax nostalgic about days of scented stationery and posting to pen-pals, perhaps a facebook infused updated on-screen version would be better received by “kids these days”. Liz


Already a success on the stage, Earls’ foray into the young adult genre is as real and relatable as mature life-mirrorring best-sellers Zig-Zag Street and Bachelor Kisses. After finally making it through high school, a floundering and pessimistic Alex hits the beach both because his mum made him, and in search of distraction from not-so-eagerly awaiting his acceptance or rejection letter for the ambiguous (his word, not mine)Queensland University Arts/Law course. The familiar transitionary tale follows Alex through what seems like the last summer of life as he knows it, as he grapples with the confronting crossroads that lie ahead of him after January, but not before a journey of self-discovery, dealing with Daddy issues, and dabbling in his first dose of requited love with elusive and mysterious beach babe, Fortuna. A little bit quirky, a little bit depressing, and a slightly dysfunctional family thrown in the mix – After January checks all the classic Aussie cinema prerequisites. Liz

FAT CHANCE by Margaret Clark

Seriously, how can it can be that Lisa Trelaw’s story still lies by the cinematic wayside? This paperback was hot property on school library shelves. Telling the story of the teenage every-girl, the familiar protagonist’s constant concerns about her weight are supported by her teasing brother, unhealthy mother, and friends she compares herself to. After enduring a couple of horrifying life-altering incidents, Lisa’s attitude comes full circle as she overcomes peer, family, and media influences to find confidence and develop healthy habits in a story that just strikes the easily missable target of balance, sensitively delivering entertainment in a cautionary tale. While Fat Chance ends on an encouraging and uplifting note, follow-ups in the four part series tumble down a slippery cliche-ridden slope (of course she becomes a model!). There’s room for improvement in adaptation, however, and definitely opportunity for a hit series. Hear that film execs? Ch-Ching! Liz

PINK BALLOONS by Beverly McGregor

On the younger end of the young-adult scale is Beverly McGregor’s Pink Balloons. The uncomfortably true story describes with great sensitivity the courageous and tragic battle for survival young AIDS sufferer Skye has been dealing with since her fifth birthday, when her family discovers that a routine blood transfusion the frail, premature baby underwent, caused her to transmit the virus years earlier. Skye’s admirable bravery and optimism that sees her through suffering is pitted against her family’s difficult dealings as she sets herself the adamant yet unachievable goal to fill her room with 100 pink balloons, one for each birthday she meets. Rife with affecting symbolism, interweaving storylines, polarising perspectives and flashbacks, the beautifully told story would have to be adapted with sophisticated cinema stylings, and even makes way for Claudia Karvan-esque mini-series magic. A silver-screen adaptation would surely be a tear-jerker of The Notebook proportions. Liz

Yours truly,
Liz & Lucy @ Girl With a Satchel

It's our pleasure to publish the following post-script by Ronda Brewer:

"On reading the above outline written by ' A Girl With a Satchel' with regard to the book PINK BALLOONS, it says... 'when her family discovers that a routine blood transfusion the frail, premature baby underwent, caused her to TRANSMIT the virus years earlier'... This, unfortunately is incorrect. As Skye's Aunty, it is my duty to correct this point, and set the record straight. Instead, Skye CONTRACTED the virus from a contaminated blood transfusion she RECEIVED years earlier, as a premature baby, and was only diagnosed with AIDS years later, at the age of five. In her few short, precious years, she did never transmit any virus to anybody - HIV/AIDS or otherwise. Yes, the above outline was written with good intent- just not quite factual, and I'm sorry to say, poorly worded. So for would-be readers out there, unless they previously knew of Skye's story, reading the description of her book, is, in fact, quite misleading. So, as her Aunty Ronda, who knew her from the moment she came into this world, until the moment she left, I must speak the truth and continue to uphold her legacy.' I sincerely hope you understand and are able to make amends. Regards Ronda Brewer."


Adelaide Dupont said...


Chain of hearts was a sleeper hit and entered my home and heart in February-March 2002. Yes, Sophie Douglas should so be on the screen.

Came back to show you I could fly was already televised in the early 1990s as Say a little prayer.

After January has warm memories. I thnk a few University of Queensland Press titles could tap into film, especially those targeted to young adults.

As for the lesser-known/unknown titles, it is clear that they strike a chord in responsive hearts.

Pink Balloons and The Girl Most Likely were probably "sold" to me on this basis.

And with my heart is what I read and view, as well as my hands and eyes.

Remember a great writing saying: "First with our eyes".

Amanda Corrine said...

I plan on reading 100 books this year that I have never read before and over 100 pages. I will probably read these because they sound so interesting! Thanks for sharing :)

Jess said...

I remember meeting Margaret Clark when I went to school in Melbourne and it was like meeting my hero! Have read most of those books. Ah, memories!

Anonymous said...

I hadn't heard of it but "the Girl Most Likely" definitely sounds like a me sort of book. Adding it to the list!!

Laura said...

I'd love to see John Marsden's Letter from the Inside as a film or TV series. I absolutely LOVED that book growing up!

Holly said...

Wow, I haven't heard of any of these books but the Sweet Valley series turned into a movie sounds amazing!

Anna said...

Ages ago I remember that The Girl Most Likely was in the process of being adapted to film, starring Pia Miranda. Don't know what happened! And of course the prequel The Year Nick McGowan Came to Stay was adapted to the stage by Sean Mee for La Boite.

Ken said...

Hi folks. I'm one of the producers that is taking The Girl Most Likely to the big screen.

You can follow the project at


We're very chuffed to see TGML at the top of a list with so many other great titles.

Cheers, Ken