A week ago I bit the bullet, paid my thirty dollars plus extra for popcorn and Skittles, and took my boys to see the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movie. Cute movie. Lots and lots of silly humor that little boys love. Apparently I do too because I laughed just as much as my boys did.
What I didn’t expect was to be so touched by one of the movie previews. Movie previews aren’t supposed to be touching. They are the commercials that are only there so you will absentmindedly eat your entire tub popcorn, forcing you to run back to the candy counter for another treat before the real movie starts. Or so I’ve been told.
But this movie preview was a delightful surprise. This was a movie trailer that I stopped eating my popcorn to watch and was so excited to see that I didn’t want to end. It was for the new movie, “Ramona and Beezus”.
“That will be so good! It’s based on a book that I read when I was your age,” I whispered to the Cheese. “And I’m pretty sure I have a copy somewhere at home. We’ll read it together!”
I’m fairly certain that the Cheese didn’t hear a single word I said, but it didn’t matter anyway because suddenly I was back at Monroe Elementary in Mr. Lynn’s fourth grade classroom. I was the new girl who had just endured her parent’s and a move to a new city. I carried a fashionable red purse that was just big enough to hold a tube of Bonnie Bell lip gloss, a yellow Mrs. Pac-Man coin purse, and a few of Mrs. Grossman’s stickers. It was 1983 and I was doing my best to survive the jungle of pre-adolescents.
My new friends were all reading the “Ramona” books. “Have you read the ‘Ramona’ books yet?” they would ask me. I tried my best to say, “Sure, of course I have!” even though I hadn’t, but I was the new girl with divorced parents who carried a purse, and didn’t want to stand out any more than I already was.
But truthfully, at this point in my life I was not a reader. The only chapter book that I had read was Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume, and I had only read that because my older cousin Lori, who was wise beyond her 13 years, told me that if I wanted to know about being a real woman I had to. A young girl’s survival guide if there ever was one.
So on my next trip to the school library I checked out Ramona and Her Mother, pretending that I loved it so much that I was giving it a second read. And to my surprise I loved it. Suddenly a whole new literary world had been opened to me. Before long I was reading all of the classics. There were stories about mice on motorcycles and magical chocolate factories and vampire bunnies. I had discovered that the world of books was a great world to live in. Some of my favorites were books like Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach, and Stuart Little—ironically all books that would one day become movies.
As I sat there with my children watching a movie that is based on a best-selling book, something dawned on me. Movies based on best-selling books are never as good as the books themselves. No matter how superb the acting, no matter how sweet the storyline, the movies are never as good.
I realized that I didn’t want my boys to watch Wilber cry as he discovers that Charlotte is dying. I wanted them to read about it in a book, experience the emotions inside the pages. Having the memory of watching a movie together is nice, but not nearly as special as the memory of sharing a good book.
And wouldn’t you know it, as we walked out of the movie together I asked the Cheese, “So, did you like the movie?” To which he responded, “Yeah, but not as much as I liked the book.”