Here at Film 14 we live and breathe book trailers. So when an exciting cinematic book movie hits the scene, we’re pretty keen on sniffing it out. We sailed through this trash fire of a year and, like a burning comet blazing through outer space, we’re heading straight into the darkness of the next… but not without first paying our respects to the best book trailers of 2020.
A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen
A truly superb book trailer from Fierce Reads. The top-notch cinematography and barren score imbue this trailer with an aching tenderness that you can actually feel. Isn’t the point of good cinema to make us feel something? Don’t get it twisted folks, book trailers are an art form in themselves and this is proof. Check out A Breath Too Late by Rocky Callen for an excellent example of a book trailer done right.
I Am Mercy by Mandi Lynn
Like the best writing, this concise book trailer brings its subject clearly into focus in half a minute. Here is a simple yet cinematic introduction to YA historical fantasy at its finest. An opening shot straight out of Bergman’s The Seventh Seal draws us in and keeps us there as we see a cloaked figure from behind, standing over a sea cliff while a quietly dramatic narration tells us about “the plague” and how “they began burning the dead when they ran out of graves.” Will our wrongfully accused heroine be burned at the stake for being the witchy cause of the pestilence, or will she find mercy?
Soul Seeker by Kaylin McFarren
Directed by Film 14’s Nell Teare, another minimalist trailer that says it all in only a few, powerful shots and immediately has us asking questions. Is this a hard-boiled crime story or a supernatural thriller? The vibe I get from watching the trailer is one of a troubled son possessed by a killer demon with an Oedipus complex. How or why, we don’t know, but the trailer leads us to believe this is a seriously satanic trauma drama with twists, turns, and darkness galore.
Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam
Inspired by the life of prison-reform activist Yusef Salaam of “The Exonerated Five” comes Punching the Air, a powerful collaboration between award-winning YA author Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam from Harper Collins. This well-crafted book trailer displays beautifully cinematic shots as well as some noteworthy title work. The case of “The Exonerated Five” has been revived in the media since the celebrated Netflix limited series When They See Us hit screens last year, making this the ideal time for Punching The Air to arrive. This is a YA novel in verse about a talented boy imprisoned for throwing a punch, a commentary on the pitfalls of our broken justice system–a subject which Salaam is overqualified to write about.
The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate
This is an animated book trailer with star power, baby. Danny DeVito is the voice of Bob “the dog who lived at the mall with his BFF, the one and only Ivan.” DeVito also plays the voice of Bob in the upcoming film adaptation of the book, entitled The One and Only Ivan. The animation in this trailer is right out of Lady And The Tramp, new-millennium style, presumably done by the same artists who are working on the feature film. This trailer promises an action-packed adventure with a real underdog on the hunt for his lost best friend, a massive silverback gorilla named Ivan. Short book trailers tend to be more potent and, as we can see here, even the highly-produced Hollywood book trailers abide by this unwritten rule. This one clocks in at 30 seconds and says it all.
The Conference of the Birds by Ransom Riggs
The Conference of the Birds by Ransom Riggs is the long-awaited follow up to fan-favorite Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. This trailer takes simplicity to a whole new level, and it serves its purpose well. Starting off with the Ken Burns effect and a little photo animation we quickly realize what we are seeing is the cover art of the novel. This trailer tells us nothing about the story, other than that it takes place within the world of the young adult literary home run Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children…and that’s really all that needs to be said. The author already has a cult fan base, the product sells itself.
Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour
Straight from the Film 14 editing bay comes this beauty of a trailer for Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour and released by Penguin Teen earlier this year. The look and feel of this “modern ghost story about trauma and survival, chosen family and re-birth” harkens back to the early 2000s depressingly wonderful smash hit The Lovely Bonevis, and could make a successful major motion picture adaptation as well. This trailer looks like it was ripped directly from the movie, but wait…there is no movie. Not yet, anyway.
The Skinjacker Trilogy by Neal Shusterman
Woah, hold on a minute…did they really? Yes, they did. They resurrected the Twin Towers in the middle of a lush green forest in this trippy book trailer for The Skinjacker Trilogy by New York Times bestselling YA author Neal Shusterman. Through short snippets of beautifully cinematic shots we enter the mysterious world that exists between life and death, inhabited by “souls who got lost on the way to the light.” Apparently, we can thank these souls for fighting the battle “to save the world of the living” while we go about living our lives. Who knew? This is one of those brilliant trailers that doesn’t show us too much, but what it does show makes us want to find out more of what’s inside the books in this trilogy: Everlost, Everwild, and Everfound.
The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed
This trailer opens like an old VHS copy of Saved by the Bell...with burning palm trees. Set in 1992 Los Angeles amidst the backdrop of the Rodney King riots, The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed is a coming-of-age story that follows a wealthy black teenager through the struggles of being a teen while exploring a slew of issues that need to be talked about right now. “Sometimes learning who you are means learning who you aren’t.” Check out this poignant debut novel from an author who has a lot to say about the times we’re living in now from the perspective of the times we lived through then.
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o and Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
This children’s book debut from Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o is a touching story about self-acceptance in the face of colorism. The lighter-skinned black girls don’t want to play with the darker Sulwe. At first, it gets her down until she learns that “brightness is just who you are.” This picture book with illustrations from the New York Times bestselling illustrator, Vashti Harrison, brings important lessons to light in a way that kids can understand. Sulwe teaches kids that underneath our “differences” we’re really all just human beings together in this world, a message we need now more than ever.
Savage Son by Jack Carr
Here comes Savage Son, the next installment of Jack Carr’s “high-octane” Terminal List series. The trailer features a scene in which our protagonist sharpens his blade and heads out to the snows of Siberia for some good old Russian mobster hunting. Slam an energy drink, take a giant rip on your vape, and dive into this military thriller with your crossbow drawn. This action-packed book trailer will get your heartbeat racing! It’s intense!
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
This trailer kicks off with some fast cuts of the bustling city of Taipei followed by some fierce credit card swiping at Forever 21. Look out Taipei, the teenager Ever Wong is on the loose and she’s breaking all the rules. Great shots of the Taipei skyline at sunset and a street market at dusk ease us into this lighthearted drama. Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen from Epic Reads looks like an epic read for pre-teens.
The Leafwing by Deborah Copeland
The newest book trailer in this list will blow you away. The Leafwing by Deborah Copeland made its internet debut on December 9th and is getting some views. Pulse-pounding drums and sweeping views of sea and sky tell us this YA fantasy is a high-intensity drama, as a grim reaper-like entity climbs the stairs of an old building. The special effects of leaves swirling around our protagonist and the propeller exploding off of a helicopter look pretty well done. Overall, this brand new book trailer is worthy of making the cut.
The I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis
I’m all for educating the youths about the darker side of life, but these stories seem engineered to give your children PTSD. Having said that, the book trailer looks great! The two books featured in the trailer from this series are I Survived The California Wildfires 2018 and I Survived The Shark Attack of 1912. The trailer showcases serene California natural landscapes ravaged by wildfires with realistic special effects of flames lapping at children’s feet as they flee the blaze. If you’re tired of the little ones nagging you to bring them to the beach, have them read the shark attack one. You can grab these books at your local elementary school book fair on Zoom (Amazon). Action-packed chaos and destruction…for kids!
If you enjoyed this piece, check out 14 Book Trailers with Millions of Views!
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