Roxanne Reads

September 12, 2015
by Roxanne

Roxanne Reads Goes to the Movies – 7 Great Book to Screen Adaptations


Normally at this time of the year I have my nose buried in the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) catalogue of films (or my TIFF bible as I prefer to call it), trying to decide which movies I want to see and which will fit into my busy schedule. As I work my way through my TIFF bible, I also note which films are based on or are inspired by books. There is usually quite a large selection of films at the festival that had their start as a book; whether fiction or non-fiction. I also like seeing which films have been written by fiction or non-fiction authors moving into a new or different phase of their writing career by working on screenplays. I love that the Festival and the film industry as a whole hasn’t lost its appreciation of the adaptation.

Unfortunately I am not able to attend TIFF this year and I don’t have this year’s catalogue to go through to list off which films are based on books; that I can’t wait to see, or others that are garnering buzz that you might want to add to your film picks or to-be-read pile.

So I thought instead I would list my top 7 films based on books I have read, as well as 3 that should never have been made into films at all.

Click on the book cover to enjoy how these books come to life on the screen.

mockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I admit I saw the film before I read the book, but both were heartbreakingly good, and frankly, I don’t mind if I always picture Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.




BridgetJonesDiaryBridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding
I liked the book and LOVED the film. I still think Renée Zellweger should have won her Oscar for this performance. And I have referred to myself as Bridget Jones on many occasions, as have many other women I am sure.



CoralineCoraline by Neil Gaiman
This wondrous and strange book translated magically onto the screen, and introduced Gaiman’s work to many people (of all ages) who had not yet discovered his brilliance.



the bodyStand by Me based on the novella The Body by Stephen King
The ending of the film is different than the book, but it is no less powerful. When in the right hands Stephen King’s books translate into wonderful films – The Shawshank Redemption, Carrie (the original) and Misery. In fact I have seen more film adaptations of King’s work than read his books. I think it’s easier for me to share his extraordinary kind of scary with others than experience it by myself in my imagination.

trainspottingTrainspotting by Irvine Welsh
This book is a challenge, with the dialect committed right into the writing, but it was a great and darkly funny read and an incredible film, directed by Danny Boyle. It also introduced some wonderful British actors to the rest of the world (Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlisle). I think my friend and I were the only ones laughing in the theatre that night.


prideandprejudicePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Austen’s writing and societal observation is witty, lyrical and really in a league of its own. I have seen most of the adaptations out there, but you only have to give me Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and I am done.




Jane+EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This was my first foray into the gothic genre and all these years later it still haunts me. There have been a few film adaptations of the book, all of which I have enjoyed. I will say the recent film with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender is my favourite.



Here are 3 books that should never have been made into a movie – or at least deserved a better adaptation than they got. I’ve spared you links to the adaptations – stick with the book on these ones.

flowersatticFlowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews
This WAS the book of my early teen years. I must have read it a dozen times (in secret). And I think it is still in many ways too taboo for the masses. The film and subsequent made for TV film were not bold or brave enough to really go ‘there’, especially with the incest theme.



a-prayer-for-owen-meanyA Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
I haven’t read this book although I have been told many times I should. Everyone I know who has read it has loved it AND hated the film inspired by it. John Irving completely disassociated himself from this adaptation, which is why it was renamed Simon Birch. Many other books by Irving have made wonderful leaps onto the big screen including The Hotel New Hampshire, The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules.


AN_TimeThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This is one of my favourite books of recent years. It should have made an amazing movie filled with magic and romance, but it was miscast and the story itself was chopped up, losing so much of what made the book special in the first place. Rumour was that Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt had optioned the book to star in together – I think they would have made a wonderful Clare and Henry (IMO).


Three Films that I loved based on books that I have never read (but probably should).

The Shining by Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King


Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple by Alice Walker








Three brilliant films/books that I have never watched or read (and likely won’t).


No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy


The Godfather by Mario Puzo


Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk








There are so many adaptations out there. Here are a couple of links to lists of films made or inspired by books.

What are your favourite book to film adaptations?


August 26, 2015
by Roxanne
1 Comment

Libraries are gifts that keep on giving.

I was devastated when I thought I had lost my library card. Yes, I have the number memorized – that card and its number are as important to me as my Social Insurance Number, my telephone number or my bank account number; all of which I also have memorized. Frankly, it seems odd to me that others wouldn’t have their library card number memorized too. But having the number memorized only helps when reserving books online. It doesn’t help when I visit the library in person. So I went to the library to get a new card. My new card is a plastic white card with a navy coloured edge and multi-coloured descriptive words about the library.

CLVBbCXUsAAqnPrSoon after I found my old card, so I returned to the library to see if they could transfer me back to my little cardboard red and white card with an 18 year old’s version of my signature on the back. The librarian didn’t laugh when I asked. She saw the distress on my face and clearly understood my relationship to my library card. She tried, but unfortunately it was not to be.  So I use my new library card, with a number I do not know.

I still carry my old card around in my wallet. It’s important for me to have it. All the library books I ever borrowed are on that card. It’s one of the few possessions I have that cost me nothing, that means the most.

Beautiful library cards from around the world

I am sure many of you grew up with wonderful librarians, but my junior public school truly had the best. Mrs. Marnie Clark, a tall, lanky woman, with kinky red brown hair would sit and read us exciting stories using voices and props to make the entire book’s characters and action come to life. She knew exactly where to find any book, about anything you could possibly imagine and could easily suggest what to read next. To a 5 year old book lover – she had magical super powers.


In my early 20s when I moved to Pasadena to study theatre, one of the first things I did was head to the closest library to get a library card. I didn’t have any mail or ID with my new address, but the librarian saw how important it was for me to be able to use their library and gave me a card. I used that card almost daily; to get books for school, to borrow books I found at the bookstore I knew I couldn’t afford to buy, and for when I found unexpected titles that interested me. Even when I owned my own bookshop – I still used the library. When we hosted book club I would pick up a copy of our current read at the nearby library so as not to use one of the in store copies and I even encouraged those attending book club to visit he library if they weren’t able to buy a copy from me.

Chris Riddell’s Love Letters to Librarians

Libraries are amazing meeting places. A vital community spot for EVERYONE – all shapes and sizes, ages and ethnicities. There is so much to do at the library. You’re welcome to just come and spend time, flip through a magazine and to get cool when it’s hot outside, or to get warm when it’s cold. Libraries play host to children’s story time, movie afternoons, writing groups, author events and a variety of education programs, along with computers and audio systems available for use.  And libraries are moving into the 21st century with the addition of e-books to their catalogue – although not without its issues In fact, you can borrow an e-book directly through your computer so you never have to leave home and can still visit the library (virtually). Most importantly libraries have lots and lots and lots of books to read. And they’re free – unless you’re like me and have a terrible habit of returning books late.

If you think about it, a library really is kind of like having your own personal bookstore but without any expectation of having to buy something (or leave with anything at all).

11110162_781911355256474_6736522638394786985_nLibraries are so much more than books

On May 20, 2015 the Toronto Public Library opened its 100th branch. I have decided that I am going to visit all of the branches and document my journey. I recently came across this wonderful passport created in celebration of all of the city’s branches. Maybe I’ll get one for myself and take it along for the ride.

I hope there is a public library nearby for you to visit. And if by chance you don’t have a library card at all, message me. After I recover from the shock, I am sure we can easily remedy that

Here are a few other interesting links about libraries:

The library isn’t going anywhere
Some of the world’s most beautiful libraries
Lego Libraries!




August 13, 2015
by Roxanne

Book Buzz for August 7 – 13, 2015

August 7
A really great reason to take the train
Judging a sci-fi book by its cover

August 8
10 books that changed the world

August 9
The book that shaped Hollywood Gossip
Classic literature comic books at Manila International Book Fair
In celebration of National Book Lover’s Day – words every book lover should know

August 11

Reading with scissors!


August 12
Now THIS is a colouring book
Do not piss of a librarian

August 13
New Zealand Children’s Book Awards Announced
Comic book lovers can start planning their next road trip

July 30, 2015
by Roxanne

Book Buzz for July 24 – 30, 2015

Here’s what’s been happening in the world of books this past week…

July 24

Narrow minds on the big wide world offered by books

Is this the virtual book club we’ve been waiting for?

July 25

Hong Kong Book Fair offers a needed reminder of the city’s political and cultural openness

July 26

I like my books rare – the rarer the better

July 28

I NEED to own one of these

Vlad the book-banner, or how to read with an iron fist

July 29

Yes, everything old is once again new. Dr Seuss’s What Pet Should I Get? makes its debut

… and just for fun

July 30

Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back to tread the boards across the pond

July 22, 2015
by Roxanne

Books fit for a Prince & Princess – Top 10 picks for Charlotte & George

To celebrate Prince George’s 2nd Birthday today and the christening of Princess Charlotte a couple of weeks ago, on July 5, we thought it might be fun to share some books that Prince William and Princess Catherine might consider for their son and daughter’s libraries. We’ve pulled together a few that that honour the idea of what it means to be a prince and princess; in all its forms, both traditional and contemporary – with a few ‘George’ and ‘Charlotte’ books thrown in for good measure.

So here are our top 10 books for Princess Charlotte and 10 books for Prince Georgie too (all equally enjoyable for the little princesses or princes in your life):


10. The Princess and the Pea  by Hans Christian Andersen

PrincessPea The story tells of a prince who wants to marry a princess, but is having difficulty finding a suitable wife. Something is always wrong with those he meets, and he cannot be certain they are real princesses. One stormy night a young woman drenched with rain seeks shelter in the prince’s castle. She claims to be a princess, so the prince’s mother decides to test their unexpected and unwitting guest by placing a pea in the bed she is offered for the night, covered by 20 mattresses and 20 feather-beds. In the morning, the guest tells her hosts that she endured a sleepless night, kept awake by something hard in the bed; which she is certain has bruised her. The prince rejoices. Only a real princess would have the sensitivity to feel a pea through such a quantity of bedding. The two are married, and the pea is placed in the Royal Museum.

9. The Princess and the Pony  by Kate Beaton

PrincessPonyPrincess Pinecone knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year: a horse! A big horse, a strong horse, a horse fit for a warrior princess! But when the day arrives, she doesn’t quite get the horse of her dreams . . .  For anyone who’s ever been saddled with a truly terrible present, The Princess and the Pony is a laugh-out-loud story of overcoming first impressions and falling in love with one unforgettable roly-poly pony. * This wonderful new book was just released in July.

8.  Do Princesses Scrape Their Knees?  by Carmela LaVigna Coyle, and illustrated by Mike Gordon

scrape-knees-350 This yoga-practicing, soccer-playing, ice-skating big sister shows her little brother it’s ok to fall and scrape your knees. You just get back up again. This book is part of a series of “princess” books.



7.  The Princess and the Pig  by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene


Can a pig really become a princess? There’s been a dreadful mix-up in the royal nursery! Priscilla the princess has switched places with a farmer’s piglet and everyone suspects fairies. It’s the sort of thing that happens all the while in books. But this is a fairy tale without fairies and this is no ordinary book …


6. A Little Princess  by Frances Hodgson Burnett


When young Sara is sent to a boarding school by her well-meaning father, the imaginative girl makes the best of things by entertaining her friends with fanciful tales. After running afoul of the strict headmistress, Sara receives some heartbreaking news, and is forced to work in servitude. As she struggles to keep her spirits up, she makes some remarkable discoveries that may change her seemingly bleak fate.


5. Brave Charlotte   by Anu Stohner, illustrated by Henrike Wilson

BraveCharlotteCharlotte is different from all the other sheep. She likes to explore the world around her, climbing up trees and wandering near the dangerous road while the wary old sheep “tsk, tsk.” But when danger strikes, only Charlotte is brave enough to go for help and save the day. This beautifully illustrated tale speaks to all shy little sheep who stand out from the crowd and aren’t afraid to follow their dreams.


4. Princess Pigsty   by Cornelia Funke, illustrated by Kerstin Meyer

PrincessPigstyPrincess Pigsty is all about a princess who is sick of being sheltered. Princess Isabella hates being waited on, hates sitting around and doing nothing, so she tosses out her crown and declares that she wants to get “dirty”. Her father, the king, punishes her by forcing her to work in the kitchen and the pigsty, but it backfires when Isabella realizes that she LOVES camping out in the pigsty, loves doing things for herself, loves the satisfaction of working, and loves being self-reliant. 

* Bonus – click on Cornelia Funke’s name above to visit her amazing website – it’s a ton of fun!

3. The Secret Lives of Princesses  by Philippe Lechermeier and Rébecca Dautremer

SecretLives Everyone knows about Cinderella, Snow White, and other fairy tale favorites. But there are many princesses who have been so well hidden, most of us never heard of them. All of that is about to change. The Secret Lives of Princesses is a treasure trove of incredible behind-the-scenes stories that reveal the secret lives of the world’s most mysterious princesses. Not your typical princess story, this gorgeous collection offers a fun, sophisticated and witty alternative to ordinary tales and delights the eye with its lush, exotic art and a bold, vivid design.

2. The Paper Bag Princess  by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko

paper-bag-princess-cover-295x295The Paper Bag Princess is the story of a young girl whose castle and clothes are burned by fiery dragon breath. The dragon absconds with her fiance. Undaunted (and donning only a paper bag), princess Elizabeth sets off to rescue her prince. After a successful mission, the ungrateful wretch tells her to come back when she dresses and smells like a proper princess. Seeing how shallow his affection is, the two do not live happily ever after! 

* Bonus – enjoy the StoryMob we hosted for this beloved tale here.

1. Charlotte’s Web  by E. B. White

Charlottes-WebIn his classic and beloved novel, E. B. White tells the memorable story of Wilbur, a little pig who becomes famous with the help of his clever friend Charlotte and their chatty animal neighbors. As the runt of the litter, Wilbur struggles to survive from the very beginning. Fern begs her father, Mr. Arable, to raise Wilbur and nurse him to health. Fern succeeds and Wilbur moves to Zuckerman Farm, where he learns the true meaning of friendship from the wise gray spider Charlotte.




10. The Little Lame Prince  by Miss Mulock (Dinah Maria Mulock Craik)

cover The young Prince Dolor, whose legs are paralysed due to a childhood trauma, is exiled to a tower in a wasteland. As he grows older, a fairy godmother provides a magical travelling cloak so he can see, but not touch, the world. He uses this cloak to go on various adventures, and develops great wisdom and empathy in the process. Finally he becomes a wise and compassionate ruler of his own land.



9. George Shrinks  by William Joyce

9780064431293 Only three inches tall, he can ski down mountains of dishes, swim with goldfish, and take rides in his new toy airplane. But taking care of his giant baby brother and brushing his teeth can be real challenges for the mouse-sized George.



8. Curious George  by H. A. Rey and Margaret Rey

CuriousGeorgeFirst In this, the original book about the curious monkey, George is taken from the jungle by the man in the yellow hat to live in a new home, but–oh, what happened! Though trying to be good, George is still very curious and takes a swim in the ocean, escapes from jail, and goes for a flying ride on a bunch of balloons. This treasured classic is where it all began for the curious, loveable monkey.

* Bonus – enjoy photos from our StoryMob of Curious George last summer here.

7. Prince Cinders  by Babette Cole

Prince-Cinders A fun take on the classic Cinderella story, poor Prince Cinders wants to go out to the disco but is forced instead to stay at home and clean up after his three big hairy brothers who mock him for being weak and skinny.  One evening a fairy appears to the young prince and tries to magically make his dreams come true but it doesn’t go entirely to plan.


6. The Frog Prince  by the Brothers Grimm

Grimm’sFairyTales_designaward_COVtemplate.inddA king’s daughter is playing with a golden ball near a fountain in the forest. The ball drops in the water and she starts crying. Suddenly a frog comes out of the fountain and asks her why she is crying. She tells him about the ball and frog promises to find a golden ball for her. But he wants something in exchange. The princess is willing to promise him everything: her jewels, her clothes, even her crown, but frog wants something different: frog wants to become her companion and friend,


5. Bark, George  by Jules Feiffer

BarkGeorge1A lovable pup tries to bark, but all that comes out are other animals’ sounds, until a cathartic trip to the vet unleashes the problem. This book is a pack of fun, with droll illustrations and deadpan text.



4. The Happy Prince  by Oscar Wilde

7509901The prince in the story is no living prince. He is the statue of a dead prince decorated with gold leaves and precious stones. He is known as the Happy Prince because there is a smile on his lips. But the smile gradually gives way to tears. The Happy Prince cannot help crying over the scenes of misery in the houses of the poor. He decides to help them with his gold leaves and costly stones. The little swallow acts as his messenger, and he gives away all his wealth.

*Bonus – enjoy an exquisite reading of The Happy Prince by Stephen Fry here.

3. Oh No, George  by Chris Haughton

118586-9003884-ohnogeorge1_jpg1It’s hard work being good all the time. And it’s especially hard for a dog like George! Harris is off to do some shopping. “Will you be good, George?” he asks. George hopes he can. He really wants to … but chocolate cake is just so very delicious and he does love to chase cat… What will George do now?



 2. George’s Marvelous Medicine  by Roald Dahl


George’s nasty old grandma needs teaching a lesson, and he decides the best remedy is a special home-made medicine…




1. The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

9780141185620What appears to be a simple tale of two lost souls-one, a pilot marooned in the desert next to his ditched plane; the other, a minuscule prince in self-imposed exile from an asteroid so small that he can watch the sunset 44 times a day-reveals itself as something far more complex. The Little Prince is a book for children written for grown-ups. It can be read on many different levels to provide pleasure and lessons for readers of all ages.

*Bonus – enjoy the trailer for the new film adaption of Le Petit Prince (opening next week) here.



And finally, we thought we would share the delightful books by Martha Mumford, celebrating the little Royals and their family…




July 3, 2015
by Roxanne

Are you there Judy? It’s me, Roxanne.


This past Monday, I went to the sold out (in fact over-sold) conversation with Judy Blume at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library. There were a 1000 people there to give Judy a standing ovation as she entered the auditorium. Tears filled many eyes last night including mine20150629_181606, and I really did feel like a nine year old girl again in that room, with my I ‘heart’ Judy Blume button pinned to my blouse.

I remember being on the streetcar with my grandmother, reading Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret and turning to her to ask “what a period was”.  Continue Reading →

May 27, 2015
by Roxanne
1 Comment

How I stop resisting and fell in love (with reading) again.

I can talk a blue streak about books. For goodness sakes, I owned a bookstore – I spent my entire days talking about books, encouraging people to buy books. All the while, I had a dirty little secret. I wasn’t reading. Yes, I would make sure the book club book was read in time for a gathering, I would check in on the latest book news that my Google alerts would send me. I would check out what others were saying and reading on social media, but I wasn’t sitting down, book in hand, reading.

11295603_704228783039225_743574570244287180_nI’ve always been around books. My grandmother and mother were and are voracious readers. I always joke about the fact that my Nan wore out two libraries. Continue Reading →

April 21, 2015
by Roxanne

How I gave up on 50 Shades and you can too!

There are so many things wrong, no let me start again… There are so many things about 50 Shades of Grey that don’t work for me. Frankly, it’s still very hard for me to believe this book has gone so far – and taken on such a life of its own. And I am not just talking about its literary value, but also the book’s content. For me, it leads to bigger questions… about society, about power, about women’s sexuality, about alternative lifestyles and about taboo (a Google search of “why women are reading 50 Shades of Grey” turned up 21,200,000 hits in 0.28 seconds). But I’m going to step away from all of that and just focus on the book itself. Continue Reading →

February 14, 2015
by Roxanne
1 Comment

Will I be a glutton for punishment?

I am not a book snob. I will read anything – any length of book, any genre, any author.

I still regularly make book recommendations and I rarely discourage anyone from reading anything they want. And with Freedom to Read week just around the corner, I like to acknowledge how lucky we are to have the opportunity to read pretty much anything we want to.  I do however try to suggest books that I think offer more than just words on paper (and are age appropriate when needed). But let’s be honest, everyone has their taste and some books are just better than others. Continue Reading →

April 10, 2014
by Roxanne

Book Buzz for Apr 4 – 10, 2014

Thurs Apr 4

Happy Birthday Ms. Maya Angelou!

Fri Apr 5

She should pay the late fines.,0,4647576.story

Continue Reading →