Well, folks, here is an instance of me not liking a book nearly as well as the movie adaptation. The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) is a sweet movie, full of silly antics, gentle romance, and some kid-friendly action. It was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, and it's currently a favorite of my own little people.
|Magnolia "Dusty" Clydesdale (Susan Clark)|
My two-year-old has changed her name to Dusty because she loves the female lead in the movie so much. I couldn't be happier at her choice of heroine to want to be, as Dusty is gutsy, kind, and self-sacrificing. Great role model for my girls.
So when I found the book by the same name, I thought it would be a lot of fun too. I was hoping maybe my six-year-old could even read it, as it's under 200 pages.
Boy, was I disappointed.
The book is almost nothing like the movie. It does have a few vague similarities: a bachelor mistakenly winds up caring for a bunch of little kids. Multiple gangs try to hold up the same bank at the same time. There are two old coots named Theodore and Amos who call themselves the Hash Knife Outfit, and an outlaw band called the Stillwell Gang. There's a character named John Wintle, only he's the kids' dad in this, not their second uncle or something.
In the book, it's a sheriff who takes care of the kids. There are five kids instead of three. There's no gambler named Donovan, no female stage driver named Dusty, no gold nugget. And this is not remotely suitable for a kid to read. It's got bad language all over the place, even some very mild innuendo. I'm not sure "disappointed" is a strong enough word.
If I hadn't seen the movie, would I have liked this better? Maybe. I don't think it would have been one I'd read over and over, though, even if I didn't have a far superior movie version to compare it to. The characters didn't appeal to me, and the story was nice, but not superb.
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for language and violence.