The process of creating an animated show can come in many ways, from the original years-long efforts of a singular creator to adapting a medium. While comics are often considered a natural translation of the world of animation, there are dozens of series based on books ranging from unknowns to true classics.
Although there are obvious adaptations such as Curious George and Where is Waldo, some shows have long surpassed their source material in popularity. However, that doesn’t mean the original books are any less good. If anything, now there’s more than one reason to read them.
The last children on earth
The last children on earth is an animated adaptation of the book of the same name by Max Brallier. The story is about Jack Sullivan, an orphaned teenager who was left behind by his foster family in the midst of a monster apocalypse. The Last Children on Earth is your typical sarcastic teen comedy similar to The diary of a wimp.
The series has the distinct difference of taking place in a post-apocalyptic setting, which mixes up the formula a bit. Plus, having Scott D. Peterson of Phineas and Ferb fame running the show is a great sign for fans of quirky humor. Not to mention, the sudden dark changes remind audiences that this is an apocalypse and keep viewers on their toes.
red wall was an adaptation of the very long series of the same name by Brian Jacques. The story centers on the community of Redwall Abbey and its inhabitants as they defend their home against the forces of evil.
red wall is a high-fantasy adventure that skillfully captures the essence of the genre. The books, much like Tolkien’s, are set across centuries. The adaptation was liked by audiences, regardless of their prior knowledge of the books. This status could easily be attributed to the likability of each generation of characters, and it translates well to the animated medium.
Max and Ruby
Max and Ruby is a simple slice-of-life show based on the children’s books written by Rosemary Wells in the 70s. The show follows a pair of young sibling bunnies, the titular Max and Ruby. Ruby tries her best to control the hyperactive Max, though she often fails, much to his annoyance.
It should be noted that the books tend to portray Ruby as a much less patient sister than she is in the series. She was also much more sarcastic. The show changed her character to be much more understanding of Max, while still retaining her iconic bossy nature. At least Ruby isn’t dead like some fan theories like to have her believe. Overall, the show taking a more empathetic view of Ruby has made her much more appealing to parents and children alike.
Thomas and his friends
Thomas and his friends is based on the little known The railway series by Reverend W. Awdry. The show focuses on the daily life of the Talking Trains as they perform their duties on the Isle of Sodor. The show is known to be narrated by Ringo Starr of The Beatles.
Being written by a strict and religious man from Britain, the books had a cynical edge that was only slightly present in the series. While they’re not so cynical as to be unreadable to kids, some elements of that have seeped into the show. For example, that time Percy was locked in a tunnel resembling a twisted train version of The Barrel of Amontillado. Overall, the show has done a great job adapting its source material, while naturally downplaying its more cynical aspects.
Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia
Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia is a sci-fi fantasy epic created by Guillermo Del Toro. The story follows Jim Lake Jr., a teenager who stumbles into the secret realm of magical creatures. The original book was supposed to be a live TV show, but Del Toro decided to make a book out of it. rather for pragmatic reasons.
The book’s subsequent success sparked interest from Dreamwork and Netflix in making it a full-fledged anime series. Since then, the show has garnered tons of praise, with many comparisons to Avatar: The Last Airbender be thrown around. Del Toro’s fascinating drawings from the book are wonderfully translated into the animated medium.
Noddy’s Toyland Adventures
Noddy’s Toyland Adventures is based on the relatively obscure series of books by Enid Blyton. The story follows Noddy, a wooden doll, and his misadventures with the people of his small town. Often at his expense. Noddy’s origins are a bit complicated.
The books were very popular in their native Britain, but in the 1950s. The books were never widely distributed outside of Britain, and for this reason most people have assumed it was their own thing. Of course, it doesn’t help that a lot of Noddy spin-offs pull more than Noddy’s Toyland Adventures than they do from the original book. Either way, each adaptation does a good job of making lovable Noddy relatable, mostly because of things that don’t go his way.
PJ Masks follows three regular kids named Amaya, Connor, and Greg. When night falls, however, they don their masks and become the superhero team known as the PJ Masks. Together, they protect their home from a similar trio of nighttime villains.
PJ Masks is based on the book series Pyjamasques, and only French natives would be aware of this distinction. It is mainly because PJ Masks has never been translated, despite its global success. This goes to show that popularity doesn’t always mean a big push for source material. Nonetheless, the adaptation took the unlocalized story and shared it with a much wider audience than before thanks to its straightforward stories and lively characters.
Moomins as a franchise follows the inhabitants of Moominvalley, the Moomins, and their various adventures. While the books are by no means obscure, the dozens of adaptations (three of which were anime) most people have probably been exposed to Moomins through the show before the books.
the original Moominot the books were dark and surreal. Yet, at the same time, they maintained a melancholic and wholesome vibe. This mix of emotions, along with the absurdly beautiful designs, have given the series a dedicated cult following. In particular, Sweden (author Tove Jansson’s homeland) and Japan love the franchise. Most of the adaptations come from one or other of these countries, and they evoke the book most closely.
Pebble is a slice-of-life series based on the books written by Christine L’Heureux, who followed the daily life of a toddler named Caillou. Most of the episodes revolved around Caillou learning more about the world around him. Caillou was related to most children, as they too were loud, curious, and snotty, just like Caillou. Fans hated and loved Caillou.
The starkest example of the show going beyond the book is on the site itself. When the the creators were asked why Caillou is always bald past his toddler years, they simply said, “He became unrecognizable with the addition of hair so decided to keep his recognition.” For context, the original books caused Caillou’s hair to grow naturally as he grew up. This alone proves how well the series had remained in the minds of children above the books.
The Magic School Bus
The Magic School Bus is practically synonymous with the 90s, alongside arthur. Although the books are a hit, there’s no denying that most people are familiar with Mrs. Frizzle’s adventures through the TV series. The simple and informative formula lent itself perfectly to the edutainment format.
The show is so popular that it spawned a completely separate sequel to the books. There’s no denying that Joanna Cole’s original story and Bruce Degen’s illustrations were classics in their own right. However, it was the show that brought Mrs. Frizzle’s lessons to life for millions of children every morning. The educational aspects were given plenty of screen time, along with Ms. Frizzle’s larger-than-life characterization.
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