Book vs. Movie: “Jumanji”

In these posts, I look at a book that was turned into a movie and compare the two against each other! Which one is better? Which would I recommend? Read the post and find out!

Chris Van Allsburg


Left on their own for an afternoon, two bored and restless children find more excitement than they bargained for in a mysterious and mystical jungle-adventure board game. “Mr. Van Allsburg’s illustrations have a beautiful simplicity of design, balance, texture, and a subtle intelligence beyond the call of illustration.” — New York Times Book Review


I went into this never having read it before, but only being familiar with the movie that was based on it. This book is rather simplistic in terms of plot and story. It relies heavily on the masterful illustrations of Van Allsburg to help the story along. The story revolves around 2 children that find the game “Jumanji” underneath a tree. They ultimately end up starting it and playing it. As they are playing though, the game starts to influence their world. They are supposed to keep the house spic and span though for their parents because of a party they are going to be having. They realize very quickly to do this they are going to have to finish the game. It is a simplistic plot, but I found it to be pretty decent for a picture book intended for very young children. I can see a parent reading this to their child and them enjoying it. There would be the ability to show all the different animals and let the child figure out which is which. There could be a lot of interaction with this book to engage with a child’s mind, so I found myself liking the book on its own merit. Of course, the illustrations make it even better. They are realistic and textured in such a fashion to be rather breathtaking to view. I did find myself enjoying the book, which I wasn’t sure I would given that I feared I would compare it unfairly to the movie. We will see below though which one to me is better and which one won over my heart fully.

Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Bebe Neuwirth, David Alan Grier, Kirsten Dunst, and more


What is believed to be a simple game starting in 1969 takes on a life of its own. 2 kids lives are changed forever and then we are in 1995 where 2 more kids take up the game, not realizing a game had already been started. What next is a game coming to life! The negative is the setting of the game is a jungle.


I went into this remembering I had seen it forever ago. Closer to when it was released, which saying that makes me feel old. I enjoyed it then, but I didn’t remember a lot past that. I decided to watch it primarily because I wanted to do a review of it with the book. It just seemed to be perfect for my blog and what I have been doing with it lately. All those things that I come up with and just sat to the side, but I wanted to accomplish this one. I have been accomplishing goals lately and why not trying out this VS feature that I had percolating in my head for awhile now. “Jumanji” seemed like the easiest fit since the book portion is a children’s picture book.

I really enjoyed this movie! I loved that this movie had this wonderful jungle theme invading the real world. It was truly about bringing a game to life in our own world. This concept is fascinating and the visual element adds a lot. The other thing that I greatly enjoyed was that there were actors that I knew, but had not seen a lot from in modern times. It was great to revisit a film that they all made. The most shocking for me was Bonnie Hunt. I used to love her so much, but it seemed like she dropped off the radar of acting. After looking at her IMDB page, it appears because she has actually been doing more voice roles. I still found myself drawn to her as an actress. She placed me firmly into her role and made what could have been offensive or even weird to be believable and relatable. I felt for her because it was this actress embodying what this character would have actually felt after all those years and what she had to deal with from being the only person there. Her character was also my favorite of all the characters in the film. Kirsten Dunst is also in this film. She is fairly young in the film and she still does a phenomenal job, especially playing off of the incredible Robin Williams. Yes, if you don’t remember in the original Robin Williams is in it. He is another actor that can take the unbelievable and make you feel that it is all true. It is an incredible feat. Part of it is that Williams has an incredible charismatic personality and it shines through on camera in any role he ever had the opportunity to play. 

Wish I could say some paragraph about all the flaws of this film as well, but there are little to no flaws with this film. It isn’t supposed to be a serious drama and it knows that. It allows itself to be funny and allows itself to remain a children’s film. If I rated things this would be a solid five stars because all the elements are such well done together.  



When I look at these two together, I have to say that the film has an unfair advantage because I had seen it before when I was a bit younger. The other thing that the film has going for it is that there is a lot of extra content, which makes sense because the film is a film and the book is a short picture book for children. The concept though originates with the book, which makes me feel that it has a slight advantage over the film. The film adds so many elements though, such as additional characters and the additional plot points that bring in William and Hunt’s characters into the film. They are the best part of the film and they are not within the book. Though I love the ending of the book because… well you will have to read the Zathura review for that.


There are too many wonderful elements to the movie that are not available in the book, but the book is still the source material and deserves respect for that. Also the book still is a wonderful read for a child. The movie though is just significantly better and definitely comes out on top between the two.

9 Replies to “Book vs. Movie: “Jumanji””

    • Cassie Post author

      Yes, I saw the new “Jumanji” recently and it is planned to be reviewed actually later this week! 🙂 I planned to just review the “Jumanji” movie, but as I looked into the movie to review it, I found out about the children’s book and this idea sprung from there 🙂 Thanks for visiting!

    • Cassie Post author

      Yeah, I found out it was based on the picture book and that is when I decided to do the “vs.” feature. I enjoyed doing it. Also yep. I just reviewed the new movie on the blog. Thanks for visiting 🙂


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