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Disney to make Children of Blood and Bone movie

Disney and Lucasfilm are taking over production of the West Africa-inspired YA fantasy, Children of Blood and Bone, that took the world by storm last year. 

The story’s set in a kingdom where genocide has wiped out everyone who can perform magic. Those who were children at the time of the slaughter, and therefore survived, are oppressed by a cruel king who killed magic at its source on the day of the genocide.  Zélie is one of the survivors and she has to go on a journey to restore magic to her people.

The book grapples with the subject of power – who gets to have it, who should have it, how much is too much? 

Photograph Tomi Adeyemi shared on Twitter of her awards.
Photograph Tomi Adeyemi shared on Twitter of her awards.

It released to widespread acclaim in 2018. It debuted at number one on The New York Times YA books best-seller list and went on to win:

  • The 2018 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Debut Goodreads Author
  • The Audiobook of the Year from Audible
  • The Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Young Adult Award,
  • The Dragon Con Dragon Award for Best Young Adult or Middle Grade Novel
  • The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Fiction
  • The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Andre Norton Award for OUtstanding Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy Book

and was a finalist for The Young Adult Library Services Association’s William C. Morris Debut Award.

The book was initially optioned for a film by Fox 2000 and there was some uncertainty about whether it would still be made following Fox’s acquisition by Disney. Now Birth Movies Death is reporting that Disney and Lucasfilm are hiring writer Kay Oyegun and keeping director Rick Famuyiwa to make the film adaption.

Oyegun is best known for his work as a writer and producer of the TV show This is Us.

While I was personally underwhelmed by the novel after all the hype, I can’t wait to see this world on screen. As with Black Panther, there’s something so special about growing up in Africa and then seeing it in a blockbuster, even as a white girl.

Additionally, it’s great to see the mega studios getting behind stories by and about people of colour. Nigeria has a rich history and culture, but is often portrayed on screen as either poor or even evil. Africa is almost always filtered through the white gaze. What was so refreshing about this book was that there was no white gaze between the pages.

It’s also coming at a great time. Author Tomi Adeyemi has spoken about how she was influenced by current day politics in the US, and even makes reference to this in the novel’s author’s note.

“Although riding giant lionaires and performing sacred rituals might be in the realm of fantasy, all the pain, fear, sorrow and loss in this book is real.

Children of Blood and Bone was written during a time where I kept turning on the news and seeing stories of unarmed black men, women, and children being shot by the police. I felt afraid and angry and helpless, but this book was the one thing that made me feel like I could do something about it.

I told myself that if just one person could read it and have their hearts or minds changed, then I would’ve done something meaningful against a problem that often feels so much bigger than myself.” [source]

Let’s hope the film is as big a blockbuster as the book was so that it can share this important message with more people.

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