Nim's Island

A site for readers of the book Nim's Island, by Wendy Orr

Friday, July 20, 2007

First Aussie Children's Book as a Hollywood feature?

A while ago I asked if anyone knew if Nim's Island was the first Australian children's book to become a Hollywood feature film. Thanks very much to all the people who emailed me with their thoughts.

The concensus seems to be that there have been many wonderful Australian children's books which have become Australian feature films, and Libby Hathorn's Thunderwith was adapted by Hallmark as a telemovie 'The Echo of Thunder.

Some people believe Mary Poppins should could be counted as an Australian book, and if so it's obviously the first to go to Hollywood.

My problem with that is that if Mary Poppins is an Australian book, then by the same criteria, Nim isn't. PL Travers was born in Australia but spent her adult, writing life in the UK, and that's where all her work, including Mary Poppins, was published. I was born in Canada, but although I have published a few books directly in Canada, have spent my adult and writing life in Australia, and Nim was first published here. So, though I'm a Canadian-Australian writer, I consider Nim to be an Australian book rather than Canadian.

Professor Belle Alderman has allowed me to add her thoughts on the question here:

I checked Marcie Muir's first bibliography of Australian children's
books published in 1970, then her updated edition, published in
1992. Interestingly, in the early edition, she included Pamela
Travers and explained in her introduction, that she included as
Australian, those books written by Australians regardless of
subject matter, and books relating to Australia regardless of the
nationality of the writer or place of publication. She listed all
Travers' work in the 1970 edition. Then in 1992, Marcie Muir had this to
say about Travers:

'Though Pamela Travers was born & brought up in Australia she has
spent most of her life in Europe & all Mary Poppins books are in
every way English. The production of the Walt Disney film in 1964
based on these stories resulted in many translations & different
versions of the books but they are not part of Australian
children's literature.'


Anyway, you can see even the experts (Marcie Muir) change their
minds. I think you can safely lay claim to your book being the
first Australian children's book to be made into a Hollywood feature film, if you discount
Travers.

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