Review: Jumanji

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interestingly enough, I heard an audiobook of this picture book. It was on sale recently at and I was curious about how a picture book became one of the first live action/adventure movies I saw as a kid. This book basically reads as a less whimsical, less rhyme-y version of The Cat in the Hat. The kids are left alone (oh, the freedom of kids in kid-lit) and they find Jumanji at the park. The parents leave them with the admonition of “not one thing out of place” because they’re coming back with more adults for an adult party. The game has the same effects in the book as it has in the movie.

However, this is a 15 minute narration and the movie is probably somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes. So things are overly simplified. We only have one pair of kids who have to reach the end. It really made me appreciate the adaptation. Often when you start with so little, your adaptation ends up garbage (eg live action Grinch who Stole Christmas vs the shorter cartoon that works perfectly). But the movie takes this small premise and blows it up to be a coherent story that obeys the same logic.

Strong recommendation for kids about 5-10ish. Beyond that it might be a little too simplistic for them.

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