Tag Archives: books on the big screen

The Nanny Diaries by Nicola Kraus & Emma McLaughlin

nanny St.Martin’s Griffin, 2003, 320 pages.

Who doesn’t love a nanny story? Screaming, tantrum-throwing kids, impossibly demanding employers (parents)–isn’t it nice to read about horror lives that are thankfully not yours?

While I loved Mary Poppins and the chim-chiminee guys–my utmost ‘exposure’ to babysitting in literary form go way way back in the early 90’s–the Babysitter’s Club.

Now from the simple, pleasant, peanut-butter-will-fix-it-all kid of babysitting of the Babysitter’s Club in Connecticut—we jump to the semi-memoir of  “Nanny” (thats the only name the central character is known in the book) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, present day.

It’s about her struggle to juggle finishing a degree, spending time with her own family, trying to have a relationship–and most of all, trying hard to please her employer, the very annoying perfectionist haute couture and organic loving Mrs.X. To top all that, there’s Mr.X’s mistress who haunts her day in and out.

Although the novel is filled with generalizations (about people, society,etc), it is highly entertaining and witty. The fun read is worth the annoyingly pushover characrter Nanny is. Just when you begin to root for her, she lets you down with her extreme passivity. (Just give Mrs. X Bith a dose of her own medicine now, will you??)

I’m glad it didn’t have a very cliche ending. I saw an interview of the 2 authors of the book, both of whom have actually been nannies in New York in the mid 90’s–when economy was such a boom in the US, hence the rise of posh non-working mothers who hire nannies to take care of their own children.

The movie adaptation disappoints thoroughly. But I loved the fabulous Laura Linney as Mrs. X.

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Authors Nicola Kraus and Emma Mclaughlin were real life nannies for a time.

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Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

ink The Chickenhouse UK, translated from the German by Anthea Bell, English translation copyright 2003. 543 pages.

Writing stories may be a kind of magic, but storytelling is also an entirely kind of skill and magic in itself. This is learned so by Meggie Folchart, a 12-year old booklover. Her father, Mortimer, is a book restorer, whose extraordinary talent in storytelling has involuntarily dragged out characters from the darkbook, “Inkheart” into the real world.

They soon find themselves abducted by Capricorn and his Black Jacket men–villain characters from “Inkheart” who are demanding to be read back into their ‘story world’.

But its not as simple as a group of bad guys who cannot read wanting to have their bedtime story. Capricorn (Boss BOSS of the bad guys) wants the darkest unmentionable character in the story to be brought out into the real world.

Also, if stories were not read properly, wrong characters would be drawn–that, or you get the right character, but they emerge with ‘defects’. On top of that, everytime you call out a character from a book, a person from the real world takes its place. (Which is what happened to Meggie’s mother).

With the help of an eccentric book collecter aunt, a mysterious and burly fire-eater, and a young Arab boy from ‘The Arabian Nights”, and Inkheart’s author–Meggie and Mortimer involuntarily enters an adventure–where a story within a story unfolds.

As a young adult book, “Inkheart” is very adventure packed (500+ pages of action) and has an undeniably ingenious and original concept.

I’m not entirely sure if tis a case of things being different or could be a case of things being lost in translation but the narration can sometimes be too dragging with its description and details. Also, a bit of discretion with the chapter titles could help so as not to give away the chapter plot. (for instance, a chapter titled “Meggie Disappears into the Night” takes away the exciting factor).

“Inkheart” is the first of the ‘INKWORLD’ trilogy (Inkspell and Inkdeath) and is also a major motion picture starring Brendan Fraser.

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Author Cornelia Funke, touted as the German J.K Rowling (?)