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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery: Charlotte’s Web HORROR STYLE

January 15, 2015

The 90-Second Newbery relies on donations to keep going. Make a tax-deductible donation to the 90-Second Newbery here.

Yup, the FOURTH ANNUAL 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is coming up—our yearly video contest in which kid filmmakers create movies that tell the stories of Newbery-winning books in about 90 seconds. The best of them will be screening at libraries all across the country. Check the listings below to see if we’re coming to your town!

Up above, check out perhaps THE MOST TERRIFYING 90-Second Newbery we’ve had so far—a horror-movie version of E.B. White’s legendary 1953 Honor Book Charlotte’s Web.

Because when you think about it, isn’t Charlotte’s Web actually pretty terrifying? After all, the very first line of the book is “Where’s Papa going with that ax?”, and the plot hinges around a spider using unnatural powers, and at any moment our hero might get butchered and eaten, and it ends with thousands of spiders spawning and spreading all over the countryside . . . Anyway, just watch it!

CHILLS YET?

Anyhoo, this movie, and many other great kid-made movies, will be featured at the 90-Second Newbery screenings below. If you’re planning on attending, be sure to snap up your FREE reservation—these screenings fill up quick. I wouldn’t want you to be left out! (Wondering what these screenings are like? Here’s the recap of last year’s Chicago screening, and last year’s New York screening.)

Sunday, January 25, 2015. The CHICAGO SCREENING at Adventure Stage Chicago (1012 N Noble St, Chicago, IL). With co-host Keir Graff (author of The Other Felix). 3-4:30 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 7, 2015. The OAKLAND, CA SCREENING at the Rockridge branch of the Oakland Public Library (5366 College Ave., Oakland, CA). 12-1 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 7, 2015. The SAN FRANCISCO SCREENING at the San Francisco Public Library main branch (100 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA). With co-host bestselling author Annie Barrows (Ivy and Bean). 4-5:30 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015. The TACOMA SCREENING at the Tacoma Public Library (1102 Tacoma Avenue South, Tacoma, WA). 3-5 pm, but come early for the red carpet! Make your free reservation here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015. The PORTLAND AREA SCREENING at the Troutdale Library branch (2451 SW Cherry Park Rd, Troutdale, OR). 5-6 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015. The MINNEAPOLIS SCREENING at the Minneapolis Central Library (300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN) in Pohlad Hall. With co-host Kelly Barnhill (author of The Witch’s Boy, The Mostly True Story of Jack, and Iron Hearted Violet). 3-4:30 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, March 7, 2015. The NEW YORK CITY screening at the Stephan A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library (Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY), in the Celeste Bartos Forum. With co-host Ame Dyckman (author of Boy + Bot, Tea Party Rules, and Wolfie the Bunny). 3-5 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015. The BROOKLYN, NY screening at the Central Library of the Brooklyn Public Library (10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY) with co-host Peter Lerangis (The 39 Clues, the Seven Wonders series, and more). In the Dweck Auditorium. 2-4 pm.

See you at the screenings!

90-Second Newbery: 3 Ways of Doing Mr. Popper’s Penguins

January 14, 2015

Screenings for our 90-Second Newbery Film Festival are just around the corner in various cities, with Chicago first on January 25, 2015! (Complete schedule of cities and dates here.)

Let’s look at three movies submitted this year—two from Chicago and one from Portland—that each have their unique take on Richard and Florence Atwater’s 1939 Honor Book Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

First up is the FANTASTIC one above, a stop-motion Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Sarah, Mariah, Hannah, Emmie, Bridget, Allie, and Courtney, all 13-14 year olds who make up Girl Scout troop 2539 from Urbana, IL.

So much to love about this movie! The attention to detail and the high level of quality in the stop-motion animation is just jaw-dropping. The idea of doing it as a silent movie was inspired, and the music was well chosen. I love how even Mr. Popper’s mustache moves around in an expressive way. When Mr. Popper is wondering what to do about the penguins, or getting an idea, you can really feel his emotion! Even the penguins are invested with cute personality. I loved the way they multiplied, and then raided the refrigerator! These girl scouts also really succeeded at getting plot points across by pure visual storytelling: the closeup on the radio, the wide shot of Mr. Popper in a big empty room to emphasize his loneliness, the way money rains down on him. SPLENDID WORK!

But that’s not the only Mr. Popper’s Penguins I’ve received this year! In the summer of 2014, the Addison Public Library in Addison, IL made their own version of the classic, but theirs was live-action . . . with a zombie/horror twist! I visited their library a few times to help their team write and shoot it, but they did 95% of this on their own, and the results are great! Come for the penguins, stay for the exploding Statue of Liberty and human-limb-eating! What costumes! And I love everyone’s acting: from the zonked-out Mr. Popper to the exasperated wife to the stern Admiral Drake and of course all the cute-yet-murderous penguins:

The third Mr. Popper’s Penguins I received this year was from Matt Gilley’s film, media arts and technology class at West Sylvan Middle School in Portland, OR. His class made a bunch of fantastic 90-Second Newbery videos, all of which I’ve showcased here (be sure to check out the hilarious Hatchet!). According to Mr. Gilley, all of these great videos were produced 99% by the students, themselves. Mr. Gilley only taught them skills, facilitated, gave them feedback and advice.

In the adaptation below, I love the exasperated way that Mr. Popper kept saying “What the heck?” at the beginning (I was halfway hoping that that would be the only line in the movie, just repeated different ways in different contexts). Good fast-forward montage of moving the furniture. I liked the cutting back and forth during the conversations. Good job on this one, too! I love seeing the different ways of interpreting and adapting the same material. That’s what the 90-Second Newbery is all about.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the screenings! Complete schedule of the screenings in Chicago and Portland and everyone else available here.

4th Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival: 2015 Screening Cities And Dates!

January 8, 2015

The 90-Second Newbery relies on donations to keep going. You can make a tax-deductible donation to the 90-Second Newbery here.

It’s time for the FOURTH ANNUAL 90-Second Newbery Film Festival—our yearly video contest in which kid filmmakers create movies that tell the stories of Newbery-winning books in about 90 seconds. We’re screening the best of them at libraries all across the country. Check if we’re coming to your town in the listings below!

And treat yourself to one of this year’s movies, above—a spooky adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fantastic 2009 Newbery Medal winning The Graveyard Book, made (with some help by me) by kid participants of the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival put on every year by Chicago’s Facets Cinematheque. A little longer than 90 seconds, but great work! Such great acting from everyone! And the three kids who operated the “Sleer” puppet were real pros. Extra points to the kid who flipped the lights on and off rapidly whenever the Sleer went crazy. Resourceful!

This movie, and many other great kid-made movies, will be featured at the 90-Second Newbery screenings below. If you’re coming, be sure to make your FREE reservation—these screenings fill up quick, and I wouldn’t want you to be left out! (Wondering what these screenings are like? Here’s the recap of last year’s Chicago screening, and last year’s New York screening.)

Sunday, January 25, 2015. The CHICAGO SCREENING at Adventure Stage Chicago (1012 N Noble St, Chicago, IL). With co-host Keir Graff (author of The Other Felix). 3-4:30 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 7, 2015. The OAKLAND, CA SCREENING at the Rockridge branch of the Oakland Public Library (5366 College Ave., Oakland, CA). 12-1 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 7, 2015. The SAN FRANCISCO SCREENING at the San Francisco Public Library main branch (100 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA). With co-host bestselling author Annie Barrows (Ivy and Bean). 4-5:30 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 21, 2015. The TACOMA SCREENING at the Tacoma Public Library (1102 Tacoma Avenue South, Tacoma, WA). 3-5 pm, but come early for the red carpet! Make your free reservation here.

Sunday, February 22, 2015. The PORTLAND AREA SCREENING at the Troutdale Library branch (2451 SW Cherry Park Rd, Troutdale, OR). 5-6 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015. The MINNEAPOLIS SCREENING at the Minneapolis Central Library (300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN) in Pohlad Hall. With co-host Kelly Barnhill (author of The Witch’s Boy, The Mostly True Story of Jack, and Iron Hearted Violet). 3-4:30 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, March 7, 2015. The NEW YORK CITY screening at the Stephan A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library (Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY), in the Celeste Bartos Forum. With co-host Ame Dyckman (author of Boy + Bot, Tea Party Rules, and more). 3-5 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015. The BROOKLYN, NY screening at the Central Library of the Brooklyn Public Library (10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY) with co-host Peter Lerangis (The 39 Clues, the Seven Wonders series, and more). In the Dweck Auditorium. 2-4 pm.

Remember, the extended deadline for entries is January 16 . . . so if you’re still sitting on a movie, now’s the time to send it in! (Or if you want to make a quickie, go for it!) And of course it’s never too early to start making your movie for next year. Complete rules and details here.

See you at the screenings!

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