Here’s one way to celebrate a book-related movie in style: involve the whole town. Peter Reynolds, illustrator of Megan McDonald’s popular Judy Moody series, which has sold over 14 million books, took his clue from Judy Moody herself and went beyond a preview showing of Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, which will have its official release on Friday. Instead there were day-long festivities in Reynolds’s hometown of Dedham, Mass., which named June 4 Judy Moody Day.
People picked up free tickets at The Blue Bunny, which is co-owned by Reynolds, his twin brother, Paul, and Paul’s wife, Janet, who also manages the store. After the movie, Peter signed books at The Blue Bunny, followed by a parade through Dedham Square, and two reader’s theater performances produced by Dedham’s Fiddlehead Theatre Company with local kids.
Whether or not local kids spotted Reynolds’s cameo appearance in the circus scene (hint: he’s behind the saw), they definitely caught Judy Moody fever, even the boys. The store sold nearly 100 books and gave away boas and sunglasses donated by publisher Candlewick Press. They also raffled off movie items, including the bracelets worn by Heather Graham, who plays Aunt Opal in the film.
“Judy Moody was cool and funny and definitely 100 thrill points,” according to seven-year-old Maxwell Surprenant. Jeffrey Moran pronounced it “awesome,” saying, “I want to see it again when it comes out.” And Sophie Brandt said, “I loved it. My favorite, favorite part was when Judy Moody yelled, ‘Roar.’ ” Her mother commented, “I got a kick out of watching the characters come to life.”
As for Reynolds, “I’ve been ‘filming’ the series in my head for over a decade,” he says, describing the way he reads as turning words into moving pictures. That might be why he was nervous about the adaptation. “But after meeting director John Shultz,” he added, “I realized the property was in excellent hands. He and the team faithfully used the books to conjure up a world that is very true to the series. It really helped to have the script co-written by my collaborator, Megan McDonald, and Boston-based Kathy Waugh.”
Now that he’s seen the movie, Reynolds said, “it exceeded my expectations. My real hope for the films is that kids will go running from the theater in search of a book to read. Now that is a NOT Bummer Summer.”
And for their part, now that the movie is complete, McDonald and Reynolds are putting the wraps on Judy Moody 10, the “classic” version of Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer. Reynolds’s next solo book is due out later this summer, I’m Here (Atheneum).
Read on for photos from the event.