11 Book Sequels You Probably Didn't Know Existed

We get frustrated with Hollywood's propensity for weird sequels that seem to have little or nothing to do with the original, but it just so happens that the practice is older than filmmaking itself. Several classic stories have strange follow-ups you've never heard of, like...

1. The Starlight Barking

In case you're unaware, Disney's 101 Dalmatians was actually based on a novel, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, by Dodie Smith. You may also be further unaware that Smith wrote her own sequel that Disney ignored, titled The Starlight Barking.

Instead of just being a rehash of the original, Smith's story takes a very bizarre turn and involves all the world's dogs finding every living thing besides themselves in a form of stasis caused by a dog-like alien named Sirius, who invites them all to abandon Earth and join him on the Dog Star.

2. The Giver Trilogy

An extremely popular book for middle school students, Lois Lowry's The Giver has become an instant classic in the 20 years since its publication. Countless children have been assigned essays about how they interpreted the book's ambiguous ending, but they could have saved some time and just read the book's two (with a third on the way) sequels instead.

The first sequel, Gathering Blue, is only tangentially related to The Giver by being set in the same universe. However, the following book, Messenger, ties the two together and features the return of Jonas, the main character from The Giver, who obviously did not freeze to death at the end of that book.

3. The Book of the Green Planet

Although Steven Spielberg had every intention of creating a sequel to 1982's movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, things never really came together for it, and now, 30 years later, it looks extremely unlikely that it will ever see the light of day. Unless you read the semi-official novelized sequel, that is.

William Kotzwinkle, who wrote the novelization of the original film, published The Book of the Green Planet in 1985. In it, E.T. returns to his home planet of Vomestra, where he's punished for his trip to Earth and, thanks to a telepathic link, finds that Elliot has begun to grow up and forget the lessons learned from their time together.

4. Little Men & Jo's Boys

Louisa May Alcott's classic, Little Women, is actually already two books in the first place, with the first volume being Little Women and the second being Good Wives, but since they're usually compiled anyway, that hardly counts as a sequel. Luckily for this list, Alcott also produced two actual sequels, Little Men and Jo's Boys.

Little Men revolves around a group of young orphans who are students at a school run by two characters from Little Women, Jo March and her husband, Professor Friedrich. Jo's Boys, a direct sequel to Little Men, features the orphans as adults and shows how their lives changed as a result of interacting with the March family.

5. Closing Time

Joseph Heller's Catch-22 was one of the most popular novels of the 20th century, so much so that it even spawned the term "catch-22" as an everyday phrase. But what's not so popular is the book's sequel, Closing Time, published more than 30 years later. Since the original book was about World War II, long over by that time and not as ingrained into the cultural consciousness as it had been, Heller instead sets the sequel in '90s-era New York City, showing how various characters from the original novel deal with the difficulties of old age and their own mortality.

6. Paradise Regained

Whether you've read it or not, John Milton's Paradise Lost is one of the most influential works ever created. In fact, Milton's poem is responsible for a large percentage of common misconceptions regarding the contents of the Bible, meaning that it not only changed the face of English literature, but Western religion as well.

What failed to make nearly so much of a splash is Milton's follow-up poem, Paradise Regained, which was published in 1671, four years after Paradise Lost. As opposed to the original's 12 books, Regained is a mere four. It tells the story of Jesus' temptation by Satan as seen in the Book of Luke, but the poem never really caught on like the original and is widely unknown today.

7. The Tom Sawyer Series

Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is one of the most read books in America today, and it's not exactly a secret that Twain later had Sawyer return in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But these weren't the only two adventures the boys had. Twain actually published two other novels in the series, both more than a decade later.

The first, Tom Sawyer Abroad, features Huck, Tom, and Jim attempting to cross the ocean in a hot air balloon while facing numerous hurdles along the way. After that came Tom Sawyer, Detective, which has Tom and Huck attempting to solve a mystery involving stolen diamonds and a possible murder. Further, Twain had three incomplete Tom Sawyer novels--Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians, Schoolhouse Hill, and Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy, the last of which was very nearly completed.

8. The Gone With the Wind Sequels

Margaret Mitchell's beloved Southern romance was not only one of the most famous books of the last century, but also spawned one of the most popular films to boot. Oddly, it took nearly 60 years for people to try to wring more cash out of it.

The book has four sequels, with varying levels of authenticity. The first, Scarlett, was an authorized sequel by Alexandra Ripley and was widely panned. A second that ignores Scarlett, Rhett Butler's People, is a re-telling of the original novel from Butler's point of view by author Donald McCraig.

Then there are the unauthorized sequels: The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall is a satirical re-telling from the perspective of an O'Hara family slave. Finally, The Winds of Tara by Katherine Pinotti is a direct sequel to the original that the Mitchell family legally blocked from publication in America.

9. The Second Jungle Book

Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book is as famous for its Disney animated adaptation as it is for its common usage in elementary school curricula. The book, which is actually just a series of tangentially related short stories, is one of the most well-known and popular in the English language today.

A year after The Jungle Book's release, Kipling wrote a follow-up book called The Second Jungle Book, featuring five further adventures of Mowgli and his friends. Although Disney made an animated Jungle Book 2 and a live-action film called The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo, neither actually follows the plot of The Second Jungle Book.

10. The Last Ringbearer

J.R.R. Tolkien's sprawling Middle Earth series covers more than a dozen books, several of which were published after his death. Of all of his extant materials, however, one culture's history is mostly ignored--that of the people of Mordor. True, they're the bad guys, but shouldn't they get a say?

That's the premise behind Russian author Kirill Yeskov's unauthorized sequel, The Last Ringbearer. While it's not an official sequel, the book is actually fairly popular on its own merits. Yeskov presents Mordor as a highly advanced society based around science and technology. Not unlike Gregory Maguire's Wicked, The Last Ringbearer argues that "history is written by the winners" and that Mordor was actually a victim of the primitive cultures of men who blindly followed the Luddite-esque Gandalf.

11. The Amityville Saga

You probably knew from the various films' advertising campaigns that The Amityville Horror was based on a true story. How much is true is, naturally, a matter of contention. But, while the first film (and its remake) was based on the purported experiences of George and Kathy Lutz and the second film was loosely based on the actual DeFeo murders that occurred in the house, all the rest of the films are wholly fictional.

The Amityville books, however, tell a different tale. The Lutz family claimed that their paranormal experiences didn't end when they left 112 Ocean Avenue. According to The Amityville Horror Part II, the demonic forces continued to plague them at Kathy's mother's house. A second sequel, Amityville: The Final Chapter, that also claims to be true, says that the haunting even followed them to California. Other books followed, some even featuring the Lutz family, but all were acknowledged as fictional.

10 Fascinating Facts About The Scarlet Letter

These days, we tend to think about The Scarlet Letter in relation to high school students struggling with their English papers, but we didn’t always see the book that way. When Nathaniel Hawthorne published the novel on March 16, 1850, it was a juicy bestseller about an adulterous woman forced to wear a scarlet ‘A’ on her chest by a community steeped in religious hypocrisy. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the classic tome.


Hawthorne, who was born in Salem, Massachusetts, was aware of his messy Puritan heritage. His great-great-grandfather William Hathorne came to Salem in 1636. As the Massachusetts Bay delegate, he tried to rid the town of Quakers by having them whipped and dragged through the street half naked. His son, John Hathorne, was even worse. As a magistrate during the Salem witch trials of 1692, he examined more than one hundred accused witches, and found them all guilty. Hawthorne detested this legacy and distanced himself from his ancestors by adding the “W” to the spelling of his name.


Unable to support his family by publishing short stories, Hawthorne took a politically appointed post at the Salem Custom House in 1846. Three years later, he was fired because of a political shakeup. The loss of his job, as well as the death of his mother, depressed Hawthorne, but he was also furious at Salem. "I detest this town so much that I hate to go out into the streets, or to have people see me,” he said.

It was in this mood that he started The Scarlet Letter.


In 1846, Hawthorne's sister-in-law Elizabeth Peabody published the work of Hungarian linguist Charles Kraitsir. Two years later, it was discovered that Kraitsir’s wife had seduced several of his students at the University of Virginia. He left his wife and daughter in Philadelphia and fled to Peabody for help. Peabody responded by going to Philadelphia in an attempt to gain guardianship of the daughter. This didn’t go over so well with the wife. She followed Peabody back to Boston and confronted her husband. In response, Peabody and Kraitsir tried to get her committed to a lunatic asylum. The press got wind of the story and Kraitsir was skewered for looking weak and hiding behind Peabody’s skirts. Hawthorne watched as the scandal surrounding a woman’s affairs played out on the public stage, right as he was starting The Scarlet Letter.


Hawthorne must have known there was historical precedence for The Scarlet Letter. According to a 1658 law in Plymouth, people caught in adultery were whipped and forced “to weare two Capitall letters namely A D cut out in cloth and sowed on theire vpermost Garments on theire arme or backe.” If they ever took the letters off, they would be publicly whipped again. A similar law was enacted in Salem.

In the town of York (now in Maine) in 1651, near where Hawthorne’s family owned property, a woman named Mary Batchellor was whipped 40 lashes for adultery and forced to wear an ‘A’ on her clothes. She was married to Stephen Batchellor, a minister over 80 years old. Sound familiar?


In an 1871 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, editor James T. Fields wrote about being Hawthorne’s champion. Not only did he try to get Hawthorne reinstated in his Custom House post, Fields said he convinced Hawthorne to write The Scarlet Letter as a novel. One day, while trying to encourage the despondent writer ("'Who would risk publishing a book for me, the most unpopular writer in America?' 'I would,' said I"), Fields noticed Hawthorne’s bureau. He said he bet Hawthorne had already written something new and that it was in one of the drawers. Hawthorne, flabbergasted, pulled out a manuscript. “How in Heaven's name did you know this thing was there?” he said. He gave Fields the “germ” of The Scarlet Letter. Fields then persuaded Hawthorne to alter “the plan of that story” and write a full-sized book. The rest is history.

Or is it? Hawthorne’s wife Sophia said of Fields’s claims: “He has made the absurd boast that he was the sole cause of the Scarlet Letter being published!" She added that Edwin Percy Whipple was the one who encouraged Hawthorne.


Hester Prynne is a tall, dignified character who endures her outcast status with grace and strength. Although she has fallen to a low place as an adulteress with an illegitimate child, she becomes a successful seamstress and raises her daughter even though the authorities want to take the child away. As such, she’s a complex character who embodies what happens when a woman breaks societal rules. Hawthorne not only knew accomplished women such as Peabody and Margaret Fuller, he was writing The Scarlet Letter directly after the first women's rights convention in New York in 1848. He was one of the first American writers to depict “women’s rights, women’s work, women in relation to men, and social change,” according to biographer Brenda Wineapple.


As you probably know, Hawthorne hits you in the head with symbolism throughout The Scarlet Letter, starting with the characters’ names—Pearl for an unwanted child, Roger Chillingworth for a twisted, cold man, Arthur Dimmesdale for a man whose education cannot lead him to truth. From the wild woods to the rosebush by the jail to the embroidered ‘A’ itself, it’s easy to see why The Scarlet Letter is the book that launched a thousand literary essays.


In the 87,000-plus words that make up The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne used “ignominy” 16 times, “ignominious” seven times, and “ignominiously” once. He apparently had affection for the word, which means dishonor, infamy, disgrace, or shame. Either that, or he needed a thesaurus.


While the reviews were generally positive, others condemned The Scarlet Letter as smut. For example, this 1851 review by Reverend Arthur Cleveland Coxe: “Why has our author selected such a theme? … Is it, in short, because a running underside of filth has become as requisite to a romance, as death in the fifth act to a tragedy? Is the French era actually begun in our literature? … we honestly believe that "the Scarlet Letter" has already done not a little to degrade our literature, and to encourage social licentiousness.” This kind of rhetoric didn’t hurt sales. In fact, The Scarlet Letter’s initial print run of 2500 books sold out in 10 days.


The Scarlet Letter made Hawthorne a well-known writer, allowed him to purchase a home in Concord, and insured an audience for books like The House of Seven Gables. However, The Scarlet Letter didn’t make Hawthorne rich. Despite its success in the U.S. and abroad, royalties weren’t that great—overseas editions paid less than a penny per copy. Hawthorne only made $1500 from the book over the remaining 14 years of his life. He was never able to escape the money troubles that plagued him.

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Pop Culture
Is the True Identity of Voldemort's Pet Snake Hidden in the New Fantastic Beasts Trailer?
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In the Harry Potter series, many of Voldemort's horcruxes were give rich backstories, like Tom Riddle's diary, Marvolo Gaunt's ring, and of course, Harry himself. But the most personal horcrux containing a fragment of Voldemort's soul is also the biggest mystery. Voldemort carries Nagini the snake with him wherever he goes, but we still don't know how the two met or where Nagini came from. Fans may not have to wait much longer to find out: One fan theory laid out by Vanity Fair suggests that Nagini is actually a cursed witch, and her true identity will be revealed in the next Fantastic Beasts movie.

On March 13, the trailer dropped for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second installment in the Harry Potter prequel series written by J.K. Rowling. The clips include lots of goodies for fans—including a first look at Jude Law as young Dumbledore—but one potential bombshell requires closer examination.

Pay attention at the 1:07 mark in the video below and you'll see Claudia Kim, the actress playing a new, unnamed character in the film. While we don't know much about her yet, Pottermore tells us that she is a Maledictus or “someone who suffers from a ‘blood curse’ that turns them into a beast.” This revelation led some fans to suspect the beast she transforms into is Nagini, the snake destined to be Voldemort's companion.

That isn't the only clue backing up the theory. The second piece of evidence comes in the trailer at the 1:17 mark: There, you can see an advertisement for a "wizarding circus," featuring a poster of a woman resembling Kim constricted a by massive snake.

If Kim's character does turn out to be Nagini, the theory still doesn't explain how she eventually joins forces with Voldemort and becomes his horcrux. Fans will have to wait until the film's release on November 16, 2018 for answers. Fortunately, there are plenty of other Harry Potter fan theories to study up on in the meantime.

[h/t Vanity Fair]


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