May 26, 2016
(+++) FIGHT AND/OR FLIGHT
The Angry Birds Movie: The Junior Novel. Adapted by Chris Cerasi. Based on the screenplay by Jon Vitti. HarperFestival. $5.99.
The Angry Birds Movie: Official Handbook. By Chris Ceraci. HarperFestival. $7.99.
The Angry Birds Movie: Laughtastic Joke Book. By Courtney Carbone. HarperFestival. $5.99.
The Angry Birds Movie: Seeing Red. Based on a story by Sarah Stephens. Illustrations by Tuğrul Karacan. HarperFestival. $3.99.
The Angry Birds Movie: Big Trouble on Bird Island. Based on a story by Sarah Stephens. Illustrations by Tuğrul Karacan. HarperFestival. $3.99.
The Angry Birds Movie: Meet the Angry Birds. Adapted by Chris Ceraci. Harper. $3.99.
The Angry Birds Movie: Too Many Pigs. Adapted by Chris Ceraci. Harper. $3.99.
This was inevitable. As soon as the Angry Birds video game became super-popular, a movie featuring the characters was certain to be made to try to cash in (or cash in further) on the Angry Birds story and characters. Now, someone unfamiliar with the way Hollywood works might wonder how a movie could possibly be created on the basis of a repetitive video game in which essentially the only thing that happens is that players fire birds at pigs. Such a someone would not have reckoned with the creativity (Hollywood calls it that) of the people who make movies from plots that are, ahem, on the thin side. All that is needed is a very, very, very little bit of a story to explain why birds and pigs cannot coexist, and a very, very, very little bit of action-starting activity, and then the rest of the movie practically makes itself as birds fight pigs and pigs fight birds and birds fight pigs and pigs fight birds and…oh, it’s fantastic! To see just how fantastic, of course it is possible to see the movie – or, alternatively (or afterwards, as a souvenir to relive the whole thing), it is possible to read The Junior Novel to get the film’s entire plot in 140 large-type, easy-to-read pages.
Too extended and complicated? Hmm, it could be. After all, this is a repetitive video game, not a story worthy of being called a novel. Not to worry! There are other spinoffs of the film spun off from the video game! Official Handbook is actually the most useful of the bunch. It introduces and explains the characters, hints at quirks in their personalities (such as “heroic” Mighty Eagle’s overdone self-obsession), and includes special features that are barely hinted at in the story (such as the course listing for the Infinity Acceptance Center). There are even some of Judge Peckinpah’s favorite jokes – but why stop with those? Angry Birds fans who want jokes can get a whole book of them in the Laughtastic Joke Book. “Why didn’t Shirley like her new foot doctor? He was a real heel!” “What do you get if you cross a chicken and a bell? An alarm cluck!” “What is a bird’s favorite letter of the alphabet? Jay!” Kids who finds these jokes amazingly funny will find plenty more just like them here.
And then there are the very short books telling just some of the Angry Birds story, or just some short stories of the Angry Birds – you get the idea. Seeing Red and Big Trouble on Bird Island are about, respectively, Red’s multiple failed attempts to find a job and reporter Finch’s attempt to track down whatever bird has been vandalizing Mighty Eagle’s statue. Some familiarity with the characters and with Bird Island, where they live, is necessary to get the full flavor of these books, but it is highly unlikely that kids who want the books will lack that background, since these stories are tie-ins to the movie and designed more as souvenirs and reminders of the film than for reading in their own right. However, two Angry-Birds-themed Stage 2 books in the I Can Read! series (this stage offers “high-interest stories for developing readers”) might be used by parents to get kids who know and enjoy the Angry Birds game and/or film to try reading about the characters and maybe, just maybe, move on to other sorts of reading as well. Meet the Angry Birds is about Red and the other birds assigned to anger-management class, and the mess that results when they meet. Too Many Pigs focuses on the bad guys, the green pigs (led by Leonard and his assistant. Ross) who invade Bird Island under the guise of friendship but really have bad things in mind (such as eating eggs). This particular book does not really end – it stops when Red decides he will have to figure out what to do about the pigs – but that is really the point: the book may pull kids who like the Angry Birds into further reading about them, or maybe into seeing the movie, or maybe into seeing it again and again and again and again. The possibilities are endless, and these books, which have no literary value whatsoever but really can be fun for fans of the Angry Birds and the film about their exploits, exist to help kids explore at least some of those possibilities.