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The new Stargirl adaptation on Disney+ is making us feel all sorts of feelings. When we first read Jerry Spinelli’s novel in the early 2000s, it was a watershed moment. Middle grade and young adult had never looked like that before. It didn’t speak the language of our generation. It felt like it was written just for us. And while Stargirl remains a beautiful book about nonconformity and remaining true to yourself, it got us thinking about more contemporary middle grade novels that we love. What would those film and TV adaptations look like?

 

Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino

Robert Repino’s latest middle grade novel has a definite Stranger Things meets Toy Story vibe, which is why we think it would be an incredible animated movie on Disney+. Picture it: a soft, cuddly teddy bear named Spark who spends her nights defending her human Loretta from the monsters that lurk in the dark. We think Aubrey Plaza would make an excellent Spark, with Lana Condor voicing Loretta. And don’t even get us started on the star studded cast we want to see in those monster roles. Rawr!

Buy the book:

Amazon | Books A MillionBarnes & Noble | Bookshop

 

 

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

We absolutely love Brandy Colbert, so it should come as no surprise that we want to see her latest middle grade novel on the small screen. We’d love to see a To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before-style Netflix release: a star-studded film premiere when it’s safe to gather again, and a phenomenally marketed streaming release that inspires an entire trilogy. And we want To All the Boys… casting director Tamara-Lee Notcutt on the case. Because if she can discover Noah Centineo, we know she’ll find the perfect young actors to play Alberta and Edie.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Books A MillionBarnes & Noble | Bookshop

 

 

What Stars Are Made Of by Sarah Allen

We’re always hungry for middle grade protagonists who love science and the secrets of the universe. And 12-year-old Libby Monroe checks all of those boxes. But what we love most about Sarah Allen’s debut novel is the way it navigates the American class system and the nuances of Turner Syndrome in a way that’s accessible to middle school readers. And because we want to know even more about Libby and her family, we’re rooting for a Netflix series with a multi-season run – and an unknown young actor playing Libby. No one knew about Millie Bobby Brown until Stranger Things came along. Look out, world!

Buy the book:

Amazon | Books A MillionBarnes & Noble | Bookshop

 

 

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom by Louis Sachar

The students and teachers of Wayside School are back after a twenty-five-year hiatus and it’s like no time has passed at all! This wacky school has always been ripe for television adaptation and we could easily see Disney+ picking it up for a series. The case of the longest book in the world could easily be a three-episode arc. And journey these kids go on to prepare for the Ultimate Test could easily be an entire season. And David Rubin would absolutely have to cast this show. Did you see the magic he worked with Little Fires Everywhere? The teens stole the show.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Books A MillionBarnes & Noble | Bookshop

 

 

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio

This will probably come as no surprise, but we’d love to see Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye adapted in Laika Studios stop motion animated movie. And while we are having a hard time wrapping our head around a world where we can go to the movie theatres again, we’re dreaming big with this one. We want it to be Academy Award eligible, complete with original music by Dario Marianelli. Remember his incredible score for Kubo and the Two Strings? It’s magic.

Buy the book:

Amazon | Books A MillionBarnes & Noble | Bookshop


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Danielle Mohlman

Danielle Mohlman is a playwright, bookworm, and library connoisseur. You can find her on Twitter and Tumblr. (She has a lot to say.) And on Instagram. (She never foodstagrams.) When she grows up, she wants to be Leslie Knope.