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The Order of Oddfish

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Too Hot For the 90-Second Newbery

November 27, 2011

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!