March 18, 2015
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We finally wrapped all the screenings of the FOURTH ANNUAL 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! Our last shows of the year were in New York City, back-to-back at the New York Public Library (March 7) and the Brooklyn Public Library (March 8).
First, the NYPL! Thanks to Anna Taylor and Gretchen Kolderup for setting everything up, and to Glenn and Zach for taking care of the audiovisual side. Big eternal gratitude to superlibrarian Betsy Bird, who helped get this off the ground at the NYPL in the first place—and a few days ago she also blogged about some notable 90-Second Newbery entries here. Also thanks to Publishers Weekly for doing a nifty article about the film festival!
And of course tremendous thanks to my talented, enthusiastic, and fantastically dressed co-host, author Ame Dyckman (Wolfie the Bunny, Boy + Bot, Tea Party Rules) who really brought her A-game for the opening song-and-dance, in which the 90-Second Newbery gets shortened to a 7-second Newbery Vines . . . and then to 1-second Newbery movies . . . and then a negative 6-second Newbery, until space-time is broken and we hurtle through a singularity, retroactively obliterating the Newbery medal itself and all the books to which it has been rewarded, only to confront John Newbery himself, who teaches us how to save the Newbery from the space-time wormhole we’ve created, by singing and dancing in a thoroughly silly way:
One of the best things about hosting the live 90-Second Newbery screenings is that I get to meet the filmmakers themselves! Here I am with multi-year 90-Second Newbery veterans Madison and Ella Ross and their friends from Rochester, New York:
The Ross’ idea this year? To do Sid Fleischman’s 1987 Medal winner The Whipping Boy in a unique style: they challenged themselves to write the script such that every line of dialogue is a question. Does it work? It does! Extra points for the appropriate “Who’s Crying Now” background music:
I loved that question mark after the “aahhhhhh!”
Madison helps out as a counselor at Rochester Community Television’s summer moviemaking camp, which every year makes really amazing 90-Second Newberys. Here’s one of the few we showed in New York, a rather snarky and funny take on Katherine Paterson’s 1978 Medal winner Bridge to Terabithia. Were you surprised, when you first read the book, that Leslie died? What, you were? Didn’t you notice all the OMINOUS FORESHADOWING?
Very, very funny. Great job!
There are many other movies I showed at the New York screening, such as the Tredyffrin Library’s humans-dressed-as-Legos version of Tomie dePaolo’s 2000 Honor Book 26 Fairmount Avenue, Haverhill, Massachusetts’ Consentino School’s “gangsta” version of Lois Lowry’s 1995 Medal winner The Giver as well as Mineola, New York’s Jillian Parrino’s stop-motion version of the same book, and RCTV’s cowboy version of Ellen Raskin’s 1979 Medal winner The Westing Game, known of course as “The Wild Wild Westing Game.” And let’s not forget multi-year veteran Mohana Buckley’s stop-motion version of Elizabeth Enright’s 1939 Medal winner Thimble Summer.
On to the screening at the Brooklyn Public Library! Thanks to Paquita Campoverde and Jennifer Thompson for setting it all up, and Brandon and Marissa for helping me the day of the event.
And special thanks to bestselling author Peter Larengis (The 39 Clues, the Seven Wonders of the World series) who took time out of his busy touring schedule to co-host the screening with me:
Look at that groovy robe! Peter says it’s from mid-20th century Japan. Stylish! It turns out that Peter is also an experienced actor and song-and-dance man, and he and I rehearsed and rehearsed the opening number until it SHONE LIKE A DIAMOND. Naturally, no video exists. But trust me, it was great!
It was the Brooklyn Public Library who did this very entertaining movie of Christopher Paul Curtis’ 2000 Medal Winner Bud, Not Buddy, in the style of a Depression-era movie:
Impressive! I like the sepia-toned, old-tymey look of it, and the music choices were spot-on. The sped-up footage of Bud running when on the lam and going to Grand Rapids were funny, and I was particularly amused by that fight scene—those two kids really didn’t want to hit each other! And of course solid acting all the way through, from the exasperation of Herman Calloway to the fierce tenacity of Bud to the craziness of Lefty.
We also screened this one by Jess and Sacha Williams, Polly Horvath’s 2002 Honor Book Everything on a Waffle in the style of a cooking show:
What a perfect idea to do that recipe-laden book in the style of a cooking show! The costumes and acting were great—I especially liked the daffy way Miss Perfidy says “I’m making tea biscuits!” and how Uncle Jack and the truck driver looked delightfully insane. And “these look like toes” made me laugh too!
Thanks so much for all the young filmmakers who came out to the screenings at the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library. Heck, thanks to all the kids who participated in the 90-Second Newbery this year, and the adults who helped them and cheered them on. It’s never to early to get cracking on next year’s entry! Deadline is December 14, 2015 but you can submit anytime! You can find all the rules and details at the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival website.
And finally, let’s wrap it up with one last montage of the New York screenings:
See you next year!