Late last week I was on Twitter reading #MSWL posts and spotted this one by Alyssa Jennette, an agent with Stone Song Literary. I have to admit it intrigued me.
Not that I am a huge Room with a View fan, but it was enough to get me wondering what children’s and teen stories are in the public domain, thus ripe for adaptation. Of course, my mind first went to some of the older books that I read — Gene Stratton-Porter’s novels, Uncle Wiggly, and Black Beauty. I’m not certain when the Bobbsey Twins came out but I know my Dad and his siblings had the books. I’ll ferret each of these out later.
I did a search on “children’s books in the public domain and this is some of what I found. I’m not 100% certain that I trust all of the lists that I found but here are two that are very trustworthy:
50 Public Domain Children’s Books Courtesy of the Library of Congress. I don’t know this blog, Public Domain Treasure Hunter, but it linked through to a list at the LOC. This list includes Aesops Fables, Noah Webster’s American Spelling Book, and The Child’s Garden of Verses which are all pretty well known. Less well known are The Children’s Object Book, several primers, and A Curious Heiroglyphic Bible.
Children’s Literature (Bookshelf) at Project Gutenberg. This is another one that is trustworthy because Project Gutenberg digitizes public domain materials to make them easily accessible. I was tickled to see J.M. Barrie, Frank L. Baum, Washington Irving, Rudyard Kipling, Harriet Beecher Stowe and many more familiar names. Each author links to a list of individual titles below.
I suspect that you might have to strike a balance. If a piece is too well known, it may have already been adapted several times. If a piece is too obscure, interest in it will be considerably less. I googled “adaptations of the Wizard of Oz” and found an extensive list on Wikipedia. No Wikipedia isn’t the be-all-and-end-all in research but it is definitely someplace you can go to begin your search.
Me? I’m a little jazzed becaused Project Gutenberg has 14 Bobbsey Twins novels. Not I sure thing but it I’m thinking…