order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


Ingrid Astri Kennedy

Born 11:01 pm on May 16, 2011. Eight pounds, fourteen ounces. Once the pushing started, astonishingly quick―three pushes and she was out. Whoa!

Adorable detail: she has a birthmark on her left waist that is precisely the shape of a little heart. *Swoon*

I’m the luckiest. Heather and I are so happy!

See you in a week or two . . . I’m now officially offline for a while, in blissed-out fatherhood.

90-Second Newbery: Another Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (2010) and Walk Two Moons (1995)

We are now officially overdue for the baby. Come out, baby, come out! We’re waiting for you!

On the bright side, this means I have time to tell you about this DROP-DEAD BRILLIANT entry I received for our 90-Second Newbery film festival. It’s another version of Grace Lin‘s modern classic Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. It’s a popular choice for the contest―here’s another film for the same book that I posted two weeks ago.

Please, please watch the video above. And make sure you have a friend on hand to catch your jaw on its way down to the floor. For this film is done entirely with shadow puppets!

From the spot-on original music, to the gorgeous puppets, to the ebullient narrator, to the visual inventiveness of every single shot, this is a piece of art that single-handedly raises the tone of this entire contest. It’s by author/illustrator Aaron Zenz and his three kids, who are the folks behind the blog Bookie Woogie. In the words of the 90-Second Newbery co-curator Betsy Bird, “if it doesn’t rock your socks off, nothing will.”

Do check out Aaron’s blog post about the making of this video. You can follow how the whole thing evolved, from initial drawings to final movie. The entire project took three months! They even got their friend Victor to do an original soundtrack for it!

Bookie Woogie is a family book review blog run by Isaac (age 12), Gracie (10), Lily (8), Elijah (5), and their dad Aaron (35). Those intrigued by Aaron’s handiwork should get his children’s books Chuckling Ducklings and The Hiccupotamus. Superlative job!

But that’s not all. I also received this worthy entry for the contest―for Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, which won the Newbery medal in 1995.

It’s by undergraduates from Children’s Literature course at Longwood University. There’s much to like here, too! I’m particularly fond of the deadpan performance of “Josh M” as the lunatic brother Mike. There was also something comically perfunctory about the death of “Grams” that is perfectly in keeping with the spirit of the 90-Second Newbery contest (“Grams. Grams. Grams!”―then cut to gravestone).

Inspired to create your own 90-Second Newbery film? Anyone can enter. The details of the contest are here. I’m also extending the deadline from September 15 to October 17, so schools will have more time to make it part of their fall curricula.

Remember, the film festival is at the New York Public Library on November 5, 2011!

90-Second Newbery: The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1959) and A Wrinkle in Time (1963)

Our daughter’s still not born yet! So I have just enough time to post two more GLORIOUS 90-Second Newbery videos before I go on my brief hiatus. (I’ll get to everyone, I promise! I generally post them in the order received.)

This first one is of 1959 Newbery medal winner The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. It’s done by Mrs. Powell’s 5th grade class at Laurelhurst School in Portland, Oregon. AND IT UTTERLY ROCKS.

The Esther Saulle Youth Recorder Ensemble kicks off the video in great period style with their rendition of “A Gift to Be Simple.” And such a funny, smart script! All the actors were outstanding, especially the girl who plays the heroine Kit. The mustaches for the boys cracked me up. And lots of great crowd scenes, especially the climactic set piece when a mob gathers to burn down Hannah’s house!

There’s countless very funny bits in here. I especially like how all the romantic subplots are dealt with in a lightning-quick sequence of declarations. The costumes, the ingenious economy of the storytelling, the cinematography . . . this one’s got it all. Congratulations, Laurelhurst School! You’ve definitely raised the bar for future entries!

But that’s not all! Remember how we kicked off the 90-Second Newbery film festival with our version of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle? Well, get ready for Brentwood Elementary’s 4th grade’s version of A Wrinkle in Time, which gives mine a run for its money:

The narrator is so animated and funny. Actually, everyone turns in a great performance. I cracked up at Charles Wallace’s line “Seriously, you two, I am only five years old . . . I shall not tolerate such insolence as talking behind her back!” And the puppetry was really cool too―ambitious in the best sense―how many 4th-grade puppeteers emply three limbs at once? (The teacher wrote me, “the boy who did the puppets, Braedin, really wanted to find a way to do the three ladies single-handedly and that’s what he came up with and, since it was so creative, we all supported it.” So do I!)

And above are Meg and Calvin. I thought it was a great strategy to do precisely the scenes that weren’t covered in the Wrinkle in Time 90-Second Newbery that I posted (the Happy Medium, Charles Wallace turning “evil,” etc.). The two films make perfect companion pieces. I also thought the narrator’s poem at the end was very clever. A TRIUMPH, Brentwood Elementary!

I feel so lucky to get to see all of the ingenuity that’s pouring forth from people all over the country for the 90-Second Newbery festival. I have even more films to share, but as I said before, it might be a little while before I post them, because Heather and I expect to go to the hospital for baby #2 any day now. Thanks, everyone, for entering―and I hope to see even more!