Kenny Ortega is set to direct a film adaptation of the children’s book written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.
Weslandia, published in 1999 by Candlewick Press, follows Wesley, a boy who spends his summer vacation cultivating a mysterious fruit in his family home’s backyard. A critic for Kirkus wrote of the book, “Children will be swept up in Wesley’s vision, and have a fine time visiting Weslandia.”
Ortega, known for helming films including Newsies, Hocus Pocus, and High School Musical, will direct from a script by Shawn DeLoache, who has written for the series The Guardians of Justice (Will Save You!) and The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy.
Fleischman’s work has been adapted for the screen before. His 1995 young adult novel, A Fate Totally Worse Than Death, formed the basis for the 2005 film Bad Girls From Valley High, directed by John T. Kretchmer and starring Julie Benz, Monica Keena, and Nicole Bilderback.
Ortega told Deadline that the Weslandia film is “a perfect opportunity for introducing fresh, breakout talent and creating a soundtrack that powerfully propels the narrative forward. I’m eagerly looking forward to the assembling of our creative team, and to bringing this vision to the screen!”
He also shared news of the movie on Instagram, writing, “I’m thrilled to announce that we’re diving headfirst into an incredible new film project: Westlandia...looking forward to the assembling of our creative team, and to bringing this vision to the screen!”
Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.