Posts tagged Nim’s Island

Why isn’t the film exactly like the book?

This is the beginning of the book Nim’s Island: 

In a palm tree, on an island, in the middle of the wide blue sea, was a girl.

Nim’s hair was wild, her eyes were bright, and around her neck she wore three cords. One was for a spyglass, one for a whirly, whistling shell and the other a fat red pocket knife in a sheath. 

Now, imagine what Nim looks like. That’s the only description I give of her in the book, so you’ve got to imagine her however you want. How old is she? She can be whatever age you think she is. And her voice and accent are however you imagine them – maybe a lot like yours. (Of course, if you’ve seen the movie you’re probably imagining her looking and sounding exactly like Abigail Breslin, and being 11, because that’s how old Abbie was when she played Nim in the movie. But try to pretend you haven’t already seen someone being Nim. Remember that if another actor had been chosen, you’d imagine Nim differently!) Image

(Wendy & Abigail, on the set)

WIthout even thinking about it,whenever you read, you make the movie in your head. And it’s more than just seeing and hearing the character: when you’re really involved with what you’re reading, you even feel what the character is feeling. Have you ever closed a book and been surprised to find out that it was sunny outside, because it was dark winter inside the book? (Or the other way around?) That’s because when you read, you help the author create the story. The author tells you enough that you can fill in the blanks, and of course everyone fills in those blanks differently, depending on who they are and what’s going on in their lives.

To make a film, you need lots and lots of people. And each of those people has their own picture in their heads of what the story and the people are like. (What’s amazing is that they all manage to get together and make something that works!) 

So, think about it in the next book you read. How would you make a movie of that book?

Some of the crew around ‘Nim’ on the set



The Nim’s Island crew – all the people doing what the author, Illustrator & editor do in a book. 





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From Book to Movie

Another question people often ask is, ‘How did Nim’s Island get turned into a movie? Well, it’s all because an eight year-old boy needed a book to read on the school holidays. His mum went into their local library in Los Angeles, and saw a brand new book, with a lovely green cover, that no one had taken out yet. That mum was Paula Mazur, a film producer.Image

She decided to read him just the first few paragraphs, and then let him go on by himself –  except that she couldn’t stop because she wanted to know what happened too. So she went on reading, and her eleven year-old daughter came in to listen, and her husband, (and the two fat cats, but I don’t know if they were really listening). And then the next day she wrote and asked me if she could make a film out of the book. And I said yes!

We talked about how a film would be, and then she went to see some studios and asked them if they’d like to make it. Four of them said yes, but she chose Walden Media because they specialise in making films for children and families. 

It was the start of an exciting time. I had written lots of books, but I’d never worked on a film script before. I learned a lot through working on the first two drafts of the screenplay with Paula Mazur and Joe Kwong, another screenwriter. (Later I was very surprised when Joe said he’d learned a lot from working with me! I guess every time we work with somebody else, we all learn things, because we often know more than we think we did.) Image

But it took 5 years between saying yes and seeing a film. I’ll tell you more about the filming next time. 

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The very first Nim’s Island

People often ask how I got the idea for Nim’s Island. Well, it started when I was 8 or 9. We were living in a town on the Canadian prairies, in Alberta, but my grandparents lived on Vancouver Island – so when we went to visit them we had to go on a ferry. On the way we passed a tiny little island. It was probably too small to build a house on it, but I thought, I’d love to live on an island, all by myself.’

ImageSo when we went home I started writing a story called Spring Island, about a little girl who runs away from an orphanage and ends up on a little island. Then a little boy runs away from his orphanage and ends up there with her. (I think they were orphans because I’d just read Anne of Green Gables, and Anne is an orphan. Even though you should never copy someone else’s work, we all get ideas from reading other books!)

Years later, when a couple of girls wrote and asked if I could write a book about them, I said No, because I didn’t know them or their stories, and that’s not how I work. But it started me thinking, ‘What if a girl wrote to an author, and the author said, “I can’t write your story because I’m a famous adventure writer, and you’re just a little girl!’ But what if the little girl’s life was much more exciting than the author’s… 

ImageI knew right away that the reason the little girl’s life was more interesting than the author’s was because she lived on an island. And after I wrote the book about 12 times, I finally remembered the story I’d written when I was nine  – and suddenly  came to life. 

Of course there were lots of changes, (the little boy changed into Jack, Nim’s dad), but that was the seed. 

Have you ever wanted to live somewhere really different from where you do now? Maybe you should try writing a story about it…ImageImage



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April Star Author – Wendy Orr

Our amazing April Star Author is Australian author, Wendy Orr.  Wendy wanted to be a writer from the time that she learned to read and write when she was a young girl, and she’s been writing stories ever since.  She has had heaps of stories published and you’ll find quite a few of them in our libraries, including Spook’s Shack, Peeling the Onion, Raven’s Mountain, and her latest book, The Rainbow Street Pets.  Her most famous book is Nim’s Island, which was made into a movie in 2008 (it’s a great movie too!).

Thanks for joining us Wendy!  We look forward to hearing all about your writing, your books and what it’s like to have a movie made of your book.

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