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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery: The Higher Power of Lucky (2007)

February 7, 2011

We got our first entry for the 90-Second Newbery film festival, and it’s hilarious! Especially if you’ve been keeping up on recent controversies in the children’s librarian community . . .

It’s by Lynne Kelly, of whom you soon soon be hearing much, much more. She’s the author of Chained, which will be published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux in 2012. Here’s her blog.

Those inside the children’s librarian community need no introduction for this video. But for those outside, a little background is necessary to fully appreciate this 90-Second Newbery, of the 2007 Newbery medalist The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron.

When The Higher Power of Lucky won the Newbery, there was a hoot-and-holler because some librarians objected to the fact that the book contained the word “scrotum.” The heroine, Lucky, overhears an AA meeting in which one of the recovering alcoholics tells a story of how a rattlesnake bit his dog’s scrotum. Lucky doesn’t know what “scrotum” means, and the text goes on to say:

Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much. It sounded medical and secret, but also important, and Lucky was glad she was a girl and would never have such an aspect as a scrotum to her own body. Deep inside she thought she would be interested in seeing an actual scrotum. But at the same time—and this is where Lucky’s brain was very complicated—she definitely did not want to see one.

Tame stuff, and an accurate representation of how a child processes mysterious new words. Your mileage may vary. Here’s the New York Times article about the whole “scandal.”

To fully enjoy this video, you also need to know that this year, the Today show broke a long-standing tradition of interviewing the Newbery and Caldecott winners after the announcement. Ludicrously enough, winners Clare Vanderpool and Erin Stead were bumped in favor of interviewing Snooki of Jersey Shore, who had just put out a ghostwritten book called A Shore Thing. The children’s literature community blew up with indignation, of course. Details of the infamous “Snooki snub” here. Can America ever trust Matt Lauer again?!

To say any more would over-explain the video (if I haven’t already). But I just have to add that I’m really impressed by the comic timing and deadpan underplaying by these computerized actors. I almost feel like the brilliance of the script would be ruined if it were done by actual human actors.

If this 90-Second Newbery video is any indication, Lynne’s book is going to be hilarious. Unfortunately, it will be published in 2012, and by then the world will have ended. Joke’s on you, Lynne Kelly!