YA Novelizations That Probably Should Have Happened

With the final day of TEENS BE READING week here, we’re going to take a look at what could have been in the YA world. Missed opportunities, regrets left and right, plenty of hanging heads down in shame for never giving readers what they really want – novelizations of their favorite TV shows and movies.

In the literary world, novelizations are considered trash by any reasonable author’s standards. It’s one of the least creative ways to use your talent as a writer, and one of the most looked down upon. But people still do it. And they’re still entertaining. Mama’s still gotta get that money. Of course, novelizations are nothing new, in fact we’re covered them before with Dawson’s Creek (hint: a Gilmore Girls one may be on deck). There are plenty of books to choose from when it comes to kid and teen shows, such as Full House, The OC and Lizzie McGuire, but unfortunately not all our faves could be translated into the magic that is novelizations.

Here are our picks for what could have been. Books that could have had the chance of having Harry Potter like popularity. Ok, probably not, but it’s nice to dream.

Summerland: A Fresh New Summerland

The Summerland novel serves as a final chapter in the cancelled too soon WB series that ended only after two seasons. The book picks up five years later, when Bradin (Jesse McCartney) is a successful professional surfer who, after 3 years sober, resorts back to drinking when he has a string of losses. Meanwhile, we find out Nikki (Kay Panabaker) has lost touch with her former BFF and BF Cameron (Zac Efron), who suddenly became a movie star after he was spotted in the mall by a casting director. In the novel, he attempts to win her friendship – and maybe even her love – back.

The Real World: Seattle : The Slap

One of the most iconic moments in Real World history happened in season seven, when a dramatic showdown between Irene and Stephen led to the slap heard ’round the world. In this novelization, we only follow the lives of Irene and Stephen through a series of alternating past and present day (as in 1998) stories. We follow Stephen as he’s raised by a single mother in a black Muslim household then converts to Judiasm at 15, and we see Irene as she goes through the constant battle with Lyme disease. It all comes to a head when Irene calls out Stephen for being gay in “Present Day”, and his immediate response is to throw her beloved stuffed animal in the Seattle waters then slap her across the face. The epilogue includes Stephen revealing actually IS gay and engaged. To a man.

Guts: The Aggro Crag’s Revenge

For years, The Aggro Crag had to deal with tiny little teens climbing up its sides. No matter how hard it tried, they always managed to find their way to the top. In this Choose Your Own Adventure-type book, contestants must choose their paths up to the mount wisely, with rocks, creatures, and very bright lights at every turn. You won’t have a safety harness to rely on this time around, so do, do, do, do, you have it? GUTS.

S Club 7 in L.A. : S Club 7 in Las Vegas

Following their three TV series, Miami 7, S Club 7 in L.A., and Hollywood 7, the fictional British pop group continued their story via book form. Set in 2002, a year after the Hollywood season, the singers hop in their red convertible and drive to Las Vegas (despite the fact management offered them a private jet) to kick off their six-month residency at the Golden Nugget. The seven-book series features a singer’s perspective in each book. Tina’s got a side job working as a showgirl on her days off, Bradley fell in love with a girl at the Wheel of Fortune slot machines and he may or may not have gotten drunkenly eloped, and Paul is in massive debt due to his gambling problem.

Seinfeld: The Book About Nothing

Literally the one about nothing. The book is full of blank pages. The final page is a sketch drawing of Kramer storming into Jerry’s apartment.

Sister Sister: Sister Sister (Sister)

In this non-canonical novelization of Sister Sister, Tia and Tamera’s lost triplet, Tarisa, shows up with a desperate plea for money. Suspicions are raised when they realize that Tarisa doesn’t look like them and appears to be an adult woman. It all comes to a head when Tarisa has to dress up as Tamera to take Tamera’s Geometry test for her for some reason!

Destinos: An Adventure In Present Tense Spanish

This companion novella to the substitute teacher-endorsed “Spanish” hit takes you deep into the world of Fernando and Raquel. Or actually, very shallowly into their world, because all of the dialogue is written in basic Spanish. Raquel’s uncle Jorge is missing at the zoo and she and Fernando have to use all of their rudimentary vocab to find him! ¿Encontrará Fernando al tío de Raquel in el parque zoológico? They’re asking all their best questions and dropping all their most relevant knowledge: !Tío Jorge lleva una camisa roja! !Anduve cerca de las gallinas! ¿Ha visto a mi tío Jorge? ¿Cononce a Jorge, el hombre que le gusta jugar al tenis?

Friends: Ben’s Dyno-mite World

Capitalizing on 90s children’s fascination with Friends, a show about grownups, this chapter book highlights the busy, modernish Greenwich Village life of Ben, a little boy growing up with two moms and a dad he sees once or twice a season. When Ben gets lost in the Natural History Museum, he has to use his dino smarts to find his way back to his dad. He is with his Uncle Joey, but he is mostly useless.

Titanic: My Heart Will Go On And On

After the sinking of the Titanic, 17-year-old Rose Dawson (nee Dewitt Bukater) lands in New York with nothing to her name – so she makes a name for herself, first gaining popularity on the Vaudeville circuit, then starring in early silent films. As Rose’s fame grows, she finds herself bound for England aboard the Lusitania. Rose finally lets herself love again – a roguish scamp named Mack Carson – but when the ship meets a tragic fate, Rose must learn that her heart will go on. And on.

Zoom: Ub-an Fub-un Tub-ime Ub-in 02134

It’s a Saturday afternoon in Greater Boston’s zaniest zip code. The Zoom kids have to complete a fun obstacle course across Allston without dropping their balloons – or triggering Zoe’s latex allergy. When someone swipes Alisa’s bookbag during a rousing round of the cup game, the gang has to track it down by snacktime! Where could it be? Find out in this adventure written entirely in Ubbi Dubbi.

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Life Lessons From ZOOM

I live my adult professional life by the principles of the late-90s reboot of Zoom. Yes, the PBS children’s show. This wasn’t intentional. In fact, I didn’t even realize I was doing it until I sat down to write a post about Zoom, at which point I discovered that the show had leached into my subconscious and bled all the way through to my working life. Sure, I’ve learned a lot from higher education and on-the-job experience — but everything I really needed to know, I apparently learned from Zoom.

1) Always cheer for your friends.

Remember how every time they were playing a game, all of the kids would cheer for everyone who was competing? They’d be all “Go Zoe! Go Jared! You can do it, Zoe! You got this, Jared!”. At twelve, I thought that no real kids actually did this — you picked who you wanted to win, and that was that. There was a lot more smack talk in my childhood.

Now that I’ve grown up, I realize that I take a Zoom approach to other people’s success. As long as it’s one of my people getting ahead, I’m happy. That’s not to say I won’t work like crazy so that I’m the one getting the good project, or the promotion, or whatever. But, if a friend or colleague is recognized, that’s almost as good as a victory for myself. You aren’t in competition with your friends or even your co-workers, is I guess what I’m saying. It’s good to be happy for people. ZOOM Games taught me that.

2) The zip code in Allston is 02134.

    True story: I had to mail something to Boston a few months ago, and didn’t have the exact address. I was able to look it up on Google maps because I had an approximate zip code, thanks to that damn theme song that is still in my head after 14 years.

3) Sometimes you just need to learn something by watching people.

I’m talking about ubbi-dubbi. I could lapse into ubbi dubbi this second. But ask me to explain how to do it, and it would be super confusing. However, if you watched a few clips of the Zoom-ers speaking it, you could ubbi-dubbi with the best of them. This definitely happens in the adult world — when long, step-by-step instructions fail you, sometimes the best thing to say is “hey, can I watch you do that once?” and you’ll get it.

4) If someone has an idea, you have to listen to them for instructions. If you’re giving instructions, you have to make people listen to you.

I wish someone had told me that 90% of being an adult with a professional job was just being kind of pushy so that people would do what I need them to do. Since Zoom was a kids-only show, one of the Zoomers would be the one to explain the rules of a game or how to do a craft. Unlike real children, the other Zoom kids listened with rapt attention. I definitely try to do that when someone’s telling me something important. But when you’re the one giving orders, you have to speak loudly and clearly and look the other people straight in the face, just like Keiko and Buzz did – unless you’re working over email, and then you have to do the email equivalent of that.

5) Positivity And Perseverance Will Keep Your Team On Track

While the “being pushy so people do what I need them to do” thing does come up a lot, I much prefer it when people just respond to teamwork. It’s not a cool trait at all, but I’m plucky,  like an adult American Girl doll or a character from a Haley Mills movie. No kidding, one of my higher-ups praised my “can-do attitude” when I took over a book series. Well, you can thank PBS afternoon television for that. Zoomers didn’t give up, even when they were losing or really, really struggling.  And when you’re working with other people – whether a production staff or the other kids on your balloon toss game – your positive attitude translates to everyone else. My work is deadline heavy, and as the editor in charge, I can’t say “this is awful, we’re running so late, and by the way it’s your fault because you forgot to do part of your job.” It works much, much better to let everyone know that we can do this, and that as the one responsible, you’re going to do everything you can to get the job done.

6) Crowd-Source Your Content

PBS knew that adults couldn’t always come up with fun kid activities, so most of the games and recipes were sent in by kids. I can’t prove this, but I feel like it was almost always Stephanie M. from Toledo, Ohio. This is definitely the way to go in most real-life professions, too. I mean the “getting feedback from your target audience” thing, not so much the Stephanie M. thing.

7) Sometimes People Way Older Or Way Younger Than You Have Really Great Ideas

When you’re a kid, the difference between an 8 year old and a 12 year old is HUGE. Zoom spanned a pretty wide age range — you know those kids would not have been hanging out together in real life. Still, everyone learned from each other. If you’re starting out in your career and are way young compared to everyone else (that’s me!), or if you’re working with people half your age, don’t just write off those youths or fogeys. Caroline’s ideas weren’t always bad, you know.

8) Always have a healthy snack after school

Or after work, whatever. Or in the late afternoon, if you keep healthy snacks in your desk drawer. 9 times out of 10, when I hit that mid-afternoon slump, it’s some sort of blood sugar situation and a handful of almonds or an apple perk me right up (sometimes the only answer is caffeine. Zoom didn’t teach me that one. Also you know who couldn’t have nuts? Zoe. She was allergic). Thanks, Cafe ZOOM.

9) It’s OK if you show up in the same outfit as somebody else. Or everybody else.

Whatever, it was a good t-shirt.

10) Learning is cool.

My mom was an elementary school science teacher when I was a kid, so my childhood was all dissecting owl pellets and growing crystals. Although it was no Bill Nye or Beakman’s World, Zoom helped emphasize that learning new things is cool. When you’re working, that means jumping in headfirst to learn about a new task, field, or emerging technology. Props to Zoom Sci for that one.