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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery: One-Man Shows! The Giver, Frankweiler, and Dead End in Norvelt

November 14, 2012

Just two-and-a-half weeks to the New York screening of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival on December 2! Complete details here. It’s co-hosted by me and National Ambassador for Children’s Literature Emeritus Jon Scieszka, Newbery winners Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Margi Preus, and illustrators Dan Yaccarino and Brian Floca! Come one, come all!

One-man shows. One-lady shows. Sometimes they have to happen. Sometimes you want to make a 90-Second Newbery but you can’t find anyone to help out. And sometimes it feels like the best way to make something exactly the way you want it, is to do it solo. That’s what we’ve got here today!

Check out the first one above. It’s of Lois Lowry’s 1994 Newbery Medal winner The Giver, and this adaptation is by Leo Lion, a Brooklyn 12-year-old wunderkind who has a snappy website full of his other videos, animations, and writing.

This is quite well-acted and cleverly conceived! I smiled at his portentous “movie-trailer” voice for the narrator. The way Jonas interacts with the off-camera narrator was a good device to move the story forward quickly. (I also liked how the “baby” Gabe was just casually laying on a table, ready to fall off at any moment. Makes the father in me cringe.) The part where Leo is acting like a chicken is strangely compelling and terrifying to watch, and would probably make a hypnotic animated GIF. All around, an absolute pleasure! An extremely resourceful and ingenious 90-Second Newbery! Thanks, Leo!

Speaking of resourceful, how about getting your 90-Second Newbery shot and edited right on the cusp on the approaching Hurricane Sandy? Those are the circumstance under which Emily from Chatham, NJ made this excellent one-woman-show adaptation of E.L. Konigburg’s 1968 Newbery Medal Winner From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Emily was one of the filmmakers behind a superior When You Reach Me adaptation from last year. That was with a whole cast, but this time around, Emily plays all the parts:

Amazing! Emily so convincingly inhabited all three parts (Claudia, Jamie, and Frankweiler) that the first time I watched it, having only quickly read her email, I thought there were THREE DIFFERENT ACTORS. In the words of Jamie: “Make it complicated. I like complications.” Complications achieved: as I mentioned, Emily’s parents and sister filmed the video on a day off from school, just as Hurricane Sandy was beginning and before they lost power in their house. Great job and well done under pressure!

And that leads us to our last one-man show, this one from Harry Kay from Sidwell Friends School of Washington, DC (and fan of The Order of Odd-Fish, I was pleased to learn!). It’s of the most recent Newbery Medal winner, Jack Gantos’ Dead End in Norvelt:

Harry ably nails most of the beats of the story—pretty tough to do in less than 3 minutes! I like how it took a ridiculously short amount of time to cut down the corn and to write the obituary. There is something terrifying and yet satisfyingly silly about the way Harry announces the names of all the book’s murder victims while flipping through pieces of cardboard with their names on them with a serious-but-slightly-amused expression on his face. Cherry on top: the nefarious “mwa ha ha” for Spizz at the end, while in a getaway car that, er, isn’t moving. I enjoyed the whole thing very much. Well done, Harry!

Actually, I got many great videos from the students in Becky Farnum’s class at Sidwell Friends School—too many to include in one post! So I have collected them all on their own special page here. Enjoy!

Thanks for all your 90-Second Newbery videos. December 2 is rapidly closing in!