order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish


Laini Taylor co-hosts Portland 90-Second Newbery Film Festival with me March 3!

So the 2012 Newberys have been awarded! I’m looking forward to reading Jack Gantos’ Dead End in Norvelt and all the Honor books too. Congratulations, all! (UPDATE: You really have to hear Jack Gantos talk on NPR about how he ended up serving 18 months in the federal pen for drug smuggling when he was in his twenties. Hilarious!)

Speaking of Newbery―some of you know that I’m bringing the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival to Portland, Oregon on March 3. It’ll be at the Central Library (801 S.W. 10th Avenue) from 3-5 pm. I’m also doing other events at area libraries the week leading up to the event; check out the sidebar for details. (Don’t know what the 90-Second Newbery is? Here you go.)

I’ve been lucky enough to have superstar co-hosts for other screenings of the 90-Second Newbery: the hardest working man in children’s literature Jon Scieszka for the New York screening (with a special appearance by Newbery medalist Rebecca Stead!) and the next-big-thing comedian Seth Dodson for the Chicago screening. So who would I get to co-host in Portland?

The answer was obvious: National Book Award nominee and noted pink-hair-flaunter Laini Taylor, the author of the rightly much-buzzed-about and thrilling Daughter of Smoke and Bone (as well as her similarly great Lips Touch and her two Dreamdark books, Blackbringer and Silksinger). I first came to know Laini when she posted a fabulous review of The Order of Odd-Fish on her blog and I’ve since read all her books and become a friend and admirer. We finally met in person a couple months ago when she was blowing through Chicago to promote Daughter (that’s when the above photo was taken).

Portlanders! The deadline for entries to the Portland screening is February 13, 2012. You can find complete rules and details about the contest here. (Hey, aren’t Beverly Cleary’s 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!)

I’ve already received some great videos from the Portland area (check them out here), but here’s the latest―a quite good 90-second version of Sid Fleischman’s 1987 Medal winner The Whipping Boy, adapted by Kieran and his little brother Ackley, along with their friends Lach and Christian. The storytelling is brutally efficient, and I especially liked the doleful way in which the whipping boy gripes “I hate this job” and the resourceful use of Legos for the outside scenes. (Also, is it me, or don’t their “lady” voices sound like Cartman?) We’ll definitely be screening this on March 3, and I’m told Kieran and the rest will be in attendance:

And this is also a good time for me to call attention to some great 90-Second Newbery videos I got last year from the Field School, an all-boy school in Charlottesville, Virginia. I received five videos from them, which I’ve featured on a special page here. But you can get a taste of their moviemaking prowess here, with this adaptation of Avi’s 1992 Newbery winner Nothing But The Truth:

Click through here to see all of the Field School’s great 90-Second Newberys. Great job, and congratulations!

And Portlanders, I’ll see you on March 3!

Happy New Year!

Happy new year! As mentioned in my last post, this week I’m squirreled away at my wife’s family’s cottage in Michigan, feverishly pounding away on an overhaul of my book. It’s amazing how productive you can be with a full night’s sleep and no babies to tend to! But I do miss Heather, Lucy, and Ingrid, and whenever my computer switches to a screen saver of random photos, it’s almost always of one of them, and my heart melts. But I must persist! Work! Do!

The cottage doesn’t have Internet or even a working phone right now, which is good for concentration, but I had to break down today and catch up on some crucial emails. So right now I’m writing this using the free wifi at a grocery store near the cottage. Not glamorous!

Speaking of, the above image is some Order of Odd-Fish fan art of one of the more glamorous characters in the book, the young actress Audrey Durdle. It’s by Marie, whom I first met when she posted her wonderful and insightful review of The Order of Odd-Fish on her old blog, Leaving Shangri-L.A. Since then, we’ve become friends, and hung out whenever she has been in my neck of the woods (Chicago) or I’ve been in hers (New York).

Marie recently sent me the above image, commenting that “I realized this sketch I did of Audrey all kitted up for the Cephalopod Ball has been hanging in my cubicle for two years!” The Cephalopod Ball! Clearly this is a lost Odd-Fish scene waiting to be written. The picture is gorgeous, of course―and Audrey is really working that squid in her hair. I assume it’s alive and just hanging out. Marvelous job, Marie!

It occurred to me this would pair well with this yet another entry for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to post. It’s a retelling of The Witch of Blackbird Pond―but with a twist.

Now I’ve already featured a brilliant 90-Second Newbery adaptation of The Witch of Blackbird Pond done in straightforward style by the kids at Laurelhurst Elementary in Portland, OR.

But this one, by the wickedly talented Lucy, Kate, Rebecca, and Elliott of Cincinnati is something altogether different:

What a creative and hilarious take! There was so much to love here: the “I am such a calculus-a-holic” line followed by the exclamation of “Zeus!”, the “Settlers of Catan” reference, the insane makeover montage climaxing in that hip-cocking sashay, and most of all, the whole character of Kit! Such an ingenious idea to update her character into a vapid California girl. The over-the-top puns and winking at the end made me giggle. I thought this was just brilliant. Well done, Lucy, Kate, Rebecca, and Elliott!

Okay, back to writing!