order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


Gone Fishin’, and A Bridge to Terabithia

CHICAGOANS. Last-minute notice: I’ve been invited to give a quick 15-minute version of the 90-Second Newbery madness this Wednesday night at The Education Show, “Chicago’s premiere edutainment variety show.” Special musical guests Casimer + Casimir. At the Pub Theater @ The Fizz, 3220 N Lincoln Ave. $5 admission. Bring some new school supplies to donate to kids in need and get a prize! 8 pm.

So now that the New York and Chicago 90-Second Newbery film festival screenings are over with, it’s time for me to hunker down and do some serious writing and family enjoyment this holiday season. That is to say: my postings will be briefer, and there will be more time in between them!

While I’m gone, I’ll be posting some of the 90-Second Newbery videos I’ve received that, while great, I did not have time to post before the film festivals occurred. Today’s offering: a rather urban Bridge to Terabithia as adapted by 14-year old Mana Taylor and her 10-year old sister Soley of Chicago. They’re from Iceland! Mana tells me she wants to be a filmmaker. I say she’s got a flying start! You can also see her “behind the scenes” footage here.

Very enjoyable! Good acting (Mana plays a double part), and the costuming was spot-on too: Leslie’s kooky outfit vs. Jesse’s normal boy clothes. I liked the switch from the normal world to Terabithia (inside a bedroom― resourceful!) by cutting during the camera spinning around Jesse. The sped-up footage effectively got the necessary info across quickly. (Stick around for the charming dance party at the end, too.)

Thanks, Mana and Soley! I’m looking forward to seeing what you cook up for next year’s festival.

Too Hot For the 90-Second Newbery

So we had our 90-Second Newbery Film Festival screenings in New York City (recap here) and Chicago (recap here). But surely, you exclaim, there’s no way we could’ve shown EVERYTHING we wanted to at the festivals. You’re right. We couldn’t. Because some of the material we received was totally inappropriate for an audience that included small children! Therefore, today let us trawl through the seedy underbelly of the 90-Second Newbery: TOO HOT FOR THE 90-SECOND NEWBERY.

The above video was one of the first videos I received for the contest. Probably the funniest. It’s by Lynne Kelly, an adaptation of the 2007 Medal winner The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron. The joke of it turns on the “scrotum” controversy from when Lucky won the Newbery (the book scandalously used the word “scrotum” in the first chapter. Complete details here.). For some folks, the idea of scrotums (scrota?) and Newberys (Newberies?) don’t mix, and this video pokes gentle fun at the situation. Funny, but TOO DARN EDGY for the chilluns, thus nixed for the actual screening. Enjoy it in all its glory above!

Speaking of edgy, how about the 1994 Newbery Medal winner The Giver by Lois Lowry? In the dystopia imagined in this book, infanticide is practiced to weed out the “unfit”; the book is frequently banned because of the queasy-making, explicit scene in which a baby is killed. Well, for some reason, people making 90-Second Newbery videos love this scene, spending upwards of 10 seconds of their allotted 90 seconds depicting it, frequently with a kind of harrowing glee. To see what I mean, I put together a highlights clip of all the infanticide scenes from all the 90-second versions of The Giver I received. It’s ludicrous―and, again, voted inappropriate to show to an audience that includes elementary school children:

Wait! I hear what you’re saying―there’s no way you’re going to sit through multiple baby-killing scenes. It’s too gross, too much of a downer. Well, don’t worry! Everything becomes hilarious when sped up 400% with “Yakety Sax” playing over it, Benny Hill style:

That video, too, was axed from the final show.

Here’s a final video that didn’t make it into the screenings―not because it was TOO HOT FOR THE NEWBERY, but because we received it too late. It’s by the fine folks at 826CHI: kids at their tutoring center speculating on what the Newbery winners of the future will be. Too bad it came in too late, because this woulda stole the show! Take it away, 826CHI:

Thanks, 826CHI! Great work, and I’m looking forward to seeing 90-second versions of these future winners!

90-Second Newbery: Portland Screening, March 3, 2012!

Good news! We are bringing the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival to Portland, Oregon on March 3, 2012! The screening will be at the Central Library (801 S.W. 10th Ave.) from 3-5 pm. Thanks to the Multnomah County Library System!

I’ll be bringing the “best of the best” from the screenings we’ve already done in New York City (Betsy Bird’s recap here) and Chicago (my recap here), and mixing them with entries I hope to receive from the Portland area in the next few months. Plus live Newbery-themed entertainment between the films, cabaret-style! The deadline for entries to the Portland screening is February 13, 2012. You can find complete rules and details about the contest here.

I’ve already received two great videos from the Portland area: Laurelhurst School’s tough-to-top version of The Witch of Blackbird Pond (see above) and Alice McKee-Smith & Co.’s spot-on adaptation of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

And hey, aren’t many Beverly Cleary books set in a thinly veiled Portland? Ramona Quimby, Age 8 won a Newbery Honor in 1982 and Ramona and Her Father won a Newbery Honor in 1978. These definitely need to be done by Portlanders!

Indeed, the Pacific Northwest already has a strong showing: there’s this irresistibly charming Charlotte’s Web from Bainbridge Island and another one of my favorites, a brisk, droll The Giver from Tacoma:

While I’m in the Portland area, I’ll also be doing author visits and programs at the Capitol Hill Library, Rockwood Library, Northwest Library, Kenton Library, Troutdale Library, and Fairview-Columbia Library. See my events page for details.

A final bit of good news: the 90-Second Newbery is now a program under the Kidlit Foundation, an Illinois nonprofit dedicated to “bolstering literacy in preschool and grade school children.” I’ll still be running the film festival, of course; this just enables us to raise money and expand the program.

See you in Portland in March!