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Sebastopol author's 'Judy Moody' series hits the big screen


06.01.11


"A lot of writers I know really don't have anything to do with the film," says Megan McDonald, author of the Judy Moody children's book series, about books made into movies. But McDonald is a special case. Not only did she co-write the script for Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, in theaters June 10, but she spent three months on set every day giving input to the filmmakers and facilitating last-minute changes.

McDonald, a Sebastopol native, has been traveling the country in the past month, promoting the film, but it was just last week that the reality a major motion picture sunk in. During a phone interview from New York, McDonald says she's surprised at how big the series is in the Big Apple. "You can tell the buzz is really building, but something about being in the heat of Manhattan, there's a huge, huge billboard in Times Square . . . It's sort of one of those 'pinch me' moments."

With degrees in English and library science, McDonald is humble and literary when she explains her favorite thing about the movie. "Where it really gets me is that there are so many kids who don't know Judy Moody yet," she says. "This is going to be so cool, because it may make readers out of them."

"She's one of the nicest, most genuine people I've ever met," says Maraline Olson, owner of Screamin Mimi's Ice Cream in Sebastopol, which is featured in the Judy Moody series. "She's just a great person—and I liked her before she was famous!"

Olson's shop has become a destination for local fans and tourists alike. "We get calls from kids in New York City, all around the United States, that have read her books." The shop will be central to the opening weekend on June 11, when Olson hosts a party with McDonald for what will likely be hundreds of fans.

That might have enticed the star of the movie, Jordana Beatty, to extend her publicity tour before returning to her native Australia. Beatty will be at a special screening of the movie at Petaluma's Boulevard Cinemas on June 12, and at Copperfield's Books, nearby, after the movie.

Beatty, a fan of the series, is a "perfect fit" for the role of Judy, says McDonald. Though she had to develop an American accent before shooting began, she has similarities to Judy, even off-set. "She's kind of spunky like her, she's a big reader, loves to collect stuff like Judy Moody does," said McDonald.

With stars like Heather Graham, with the film in wide release and especially with the author's involvement, Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer could be poised to break the book-to-movie curse.

"I have," says Olson, "very high hopes for it."

Screamin' Mimi's free 'Judy Moody' party takes place Saturday, June 11 (6902 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol; 4pm; 707.823.5902); the hosted screening at Petaluma's Boulevard Cinemas is Sunday, June 12 (200 C St., Petaluma;

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