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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery: Animals Edition!

December 29, 2011

I hope everyone is having a splendid winter wonder-jumble. Heather, Lucy, Ingrid and I just got back from a restful week or so visiting my family in my hometown of Troy, Michigan (a city which Lucy has been strangely obsessed about).

Now: back to work! I am radically revising my next book, The Magnificent Moots. In January I’m sequestering myself in my wife’s family’s cottage to pound this thing out in splendid winter isolation. How could that possibly go wrong?

In the meantime, here’s some 90-Second Newbery Film Festival videos that I have inexplicably not gotten around to posting yet (there were just so many good ones, I was overwhelmed with the volume).

The theme for today’s videos is of Newbery winners that prominently feature animals.
There’s a lot of of them! As we discovered in the “Newbery $20,000 Pyramid” game show we played at the New York screening (see picture above), all Newbery winners can be divided into three groups: (1) books about animals; (2) book about death; or (3) books about animals and death.

The first one is 1992 Medal winner Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, which is about a dog named Shiloh. It’s been adapted by Mont Kiara International School in Kuala Lumpur. AbdurRahman Bhatti, the young director, showed up at the New York screening with his family and gave us the behind-the-scenes scoop on how it was made. Apparently it took months to shoot this, because the different actors were out of the country at different times. But through the magic of AbdurRahman’s and co-director Mina Hwang’s edits and cuts, you’d never know!

I loved the performances, and particularly good soundtrack work by Thariq Rudy Willoughby. Well done, Mont Kiara International School!

Next up: 1923 Medal Winner The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting, adapted by the Niles Public Library right here in Illinois. Doctor Dolittle is, of course, about a man who can talk to animals, so it fits our theme. I like it when these older titles are represented. I especially liked the “special effects” with the at-sea scenes here, when the Doctor and his young friend are pulled along by dolphins and a sea snail! A little too long to feature in the film festival, but enjoyable nonetheless:

Great job, Niles! Especially the performances―lovely ridiculous accents. “I am middle aged, and I wear this very, very fancy hat.” Good puppet work with the duck, parrot, pig and the rest of animals, too!

Next up: 1973 Honor book Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. But done in the style of a horror movie! This ominous, haunting short is courtesy of Timothy Hamilton and kids:

“And we’re together!” For ever and ever and ever . . . (do I see a theme developing in today’s post?)

And let’s round up the Animals Edition with this enthusiastic version of 2004 Medal winner The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, adapted by the Susquehanna County Library. I like how they’re always on the verge of breaking into laughter throughout the entire thing, when they’re not actually laughing:

Thanks everyone! I’m looking forward to what you’ll do for next year’s 90-Second Newbery film festival!