11 September 2014

Gauging Jason Segel’s Knowledge of Children’s Literature

The news that actor Jason Segel has published a children’s book made me wonder if he had produced good, or even adequate, literature or if this was yet another celebrity publication.

True, Segel wrote the script for The Muppets and other movies, and he’s not really a household name. But did the level of recognition he’s gained in Hollywood mean he received less editing and more resources than an average first-time children’s author? And why did this book need a coauthor, Kirsten Miller?

This afternoon I heard Segel interviewed about the book on Radio Boston. In response to the host’s mention of the scary bits of the Wizard of Oz movie, Segel immediately asked, “Have you seen Return to Oz?” He described that movie’s use of electroshock but also noted that other scary parts come “from the books.” So I’m ready to grant that Segel knows children’s literature.

One striking pattern in the interview is how Segel cited all sorts of children’s media together: Roald Dahl and The Goonies, the Oz books and the Oz movies, Coraline and The Muppet Show. Is that how young readers/viewers think of their stories in this world of quick and close cinematic adaptation?

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