Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Allan Woodrow's "Unschooled"

Allan Woodrow is the author of Unschooled, Class Dismissed, The Pet War and numerous other books for middle grade readers, some under secret names.

Woodrow’s latest book, Unschooled, is set in the same world as Class Dismissed.

Unschooled is narrated by two rotating 5th grade characters, George and his best friend Lilly. They are excited to compete together during their school’s Spirit Week competition, until they are named captains for the two opposing teams. The principal announces the winning team gets a special mystery prize. Soon, cheating, sliming and sabotaging threaten to ruin the week, and George and Lilly’s long-time friendship is threatened.

Here Woodrow dreamcasts an adaptation of Unschooled:
When thinking about creating a ‘dream cast’ I had a significant obstacle—all the main characters are in 5th grade. It’s no fun to limit your cast to 10-year olds—there just aren’t many famous ones to choose from. So I’m going to assume that my actors are so awesome, and our make-up specialist is going to be so talented, that I can pick any actor or actress, regardless of age, and the audience will completely buy they are in elementary school.

Sure, that’s a leap, but this is my imaginary casting list, so I can do whatever I want.

The two main characters are George and Lilly. George is buttoned-up, great at organizing and a little neurotic. I need a great comedic actor, who can play neurotic. I’m going with Steve Carell here, mostly because I’m a big fan, but also because he excels in that sort of nerdy-but-likeable role. Opposite him, is Lilly. She’s everything George is not – carefree, disorganized. I’m going with Cameron Diaz. Yes, nailed it! Now, where’s that make up specialist? Steve and Cameron, Trailer 1, pronto!

There are a number of secondary players, most notably Sarah and Grace, the terrible twosome that are the source of many of the worst pranks. Mean girls. Evil in a ponytail, times two.

Do you watch Game of Thrones? Is there anyone who is more evil than Cersei Lannister? Lena Headey, the actress who plays her, step on up. She could win an Oscar. For evil plotter number two, I’ll go with the almost equally as horrifying Helena Bonham Carter, who is a genius at playing evil, such as in her role as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter series. Another benefit: since my book is a middle grade novel, Harry Potter fans will recognize her.

Come to think of it, Harry Potter movies did pretty well. I should find a role for Daniel Radcliffe, too. It will help our marketing campaign. Hmmm. He can play George’s second best friend Luke. It’s not a major part, but we’ll add a few scenes and give him a few more lines. And for the role of Principal Klein, our only real meaty adult character, we’ll add Michael Gambon, who of course played Dumbledore in the same movie series (after Richard Harris passed away). Perfect.

So we have talented actors, box office appeal, and ideal casting. Now we just need to find that magical make up artist.
Visit Allan Woodrow's website.

The Page 69 Test: Class Dismissed.

--Marshal Zeringue