"Judy Moody" children's books find new life on film

Wed Jun 8, 2011 1:14am EDT
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Popular books usually make good candidates for movies. But the producers behind "Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" decided to create an entirely original adventure for the mischievous third grader's big screen debut.

The "Judy Moody" book series, created by U.S. author Megan McDonald, have sold more than 14 million copies and been translated into 22 languages since first appearing in 2000.

Producer Sarah Siegel-Magness became a fan after reading with her young daughter the books about the famously moody eight-year-old who collects scabs and never brushes her hair.

She and her husband Gary Magness -- the producers and financiers behind the dark Oscar-nominated movie "Precious" -- optioned the film rights from independent book publisher Candlewick Press.

But rather than adapting one of the nine books directly for the screen, they asked McDonald to write a new, original screenplay.

"Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer" opens in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.

"I thought of the film on a macro level where we could interweave all the great parts of the books and make it into a new story," Siegel-Magness told Reuters.

While the books tend to take place inside a classroom, the feature film focuses on Judy -- played by Australian actress Jordana Beatty -- during her summer vacation.   Continued...