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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery Update: Claymation Mr. Popper’s Penguins

October 17, 2012

I’m back from the Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival, a great experience. The 90-Second Newbery mini-screening I did with children’s media allroundsman Dan Yaccarino was a success, and I got to meet many new authors. Weird coincidence moment: I’m talking about Roald Dahl to a just-met picture book author named Edward, and I happen to mention how the cover of the book The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington, which tells the story of Dahl’s, Ian Fleming’s, and Noel Coward’s espionage activity during World War II, has a picture of Roald Dahl cropped such that the person he’s walking next to is cut out. That person? Uh, Ernest Hemingway! I mention how weird it is that a Nobel-prizewinning author would be cropped out of a picture, and Edward says, “Um, Ernest Hemingway is my grandfather.” Whaaaaat? Turns out it’s true! I didn’t realize my picture-book friend’s full name was Edward Hemingway. In any case, I bought his excellent picture book Bad Apple, which got glowing reviews from my daughters Ingrid and Momo. Go buy it!

So, the 90-Second Newbery! You’re probably wondering where the masterful video above came from. Well, Quinn Harrelson from Miami Beach, Florida is one competitive eleven-year-old. His cousin made the glorious Claymation version of Island of the Blue Dolphins that was one of the standouts of the first annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. Not to be outdone, Quinn has responded with his own Claymation 90-Second Newbery: this one of Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater, which won a Newbery Honor in 1939. Check it out above!

What an amazing, spectacular job! Would you believe Quinn made it all on an iPhone? My favorite moment: Mr. Popper picks up the telephone, calls the aquarium, and without him even mentioning penguins, Mr. Popper blurts in apparent response, “Why yes, I would like a penguin!” (Is that all it takes? Just call up the zoo and they just plead, “Take some penguins! Please!!”?) The penguins are super-cute, especially the baby penguins, and the whole thing is funny and refreshing. Awesome job, Quinn!

In Quinn’s words, after he saw his cousin’s video, he was inspired to top it: “I am very competitive and would not have left this opportunity to compete untouched so I set out to make my own.” It’s fair to say that Quinn and his cousin have both made top-notch entries for the 90-Second Newbery! (Not clear on what this film festival is all about? Here are details. The first screening is in just a few weeks, on December 2, 2012 in New York City!)

Just in case you want a side-by-side comparison, here again is the work of Quinn’s cousin, last year’s Claymation Island of the Blue Dolphins:

Both winners in my book! Thank you!