order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery Film Festival in NEW YORK CITY this Saturday!

Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Tacoma . . . and now at last we come to the final screening, in New York City, of the third annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! It will be this Saturday, March 22 at the New York Public Library, 3-5 pm (details). I’m co-hosting it with the stupendous author Libba Bray! It’s sold out, but there are always no-shows, so even if you don’t have a ticket . . . you might want to take your chances and come on down anyway?

The screenings change from city to city, as I try to emphasize local entries. Let’s check out some entries I’ve received from the New York area.

That first movie above? Louis Sachar’s 1999 Medal winner Holes . . . but reimagined as a zombie apocalypse by the Write Stuff Writing Class of Metuchen, New Jersey! From the opening titles I knew this would be a goodie. It was a clever idea to replace the poisonous lizards of Holes with zombies. Sam’s repeated “I can fix that” followed by “I can’t fix that” was funny. And I love how passionately Kissin’ Kate yelled “goddang it, Timmy, ya brat!” The “Thriller” reference at the end was just icing on the cake. Thanks, Write Stuff!

Next up, Crunchable Sheep of Spencerport, NY is back with their adaptation of Arthur Bowie Chrisman’s 1926 Medal winner Shen of the Sea:

I really appreciate that they made a movie of an older, more obscure Newbery winner this year. I liked the touches of Chinese, and chuckled at the “Bye, Daddy!” “Yeah, just go” and the way she says “We are at war” and the four generals sagely nod. A fleetfooted adaptation! Good job!

Next, Patricia Reilly Giff’s 1998 Honor Book Lily’s Crossing as adapted by Nina and Celia of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York:

Nina and Celia wrote and sang the song in the opening and closing credits! The script really efficiently sums up the story, and the shots are clearly well-planned. Albert’s accent is hilarious (“Rrrrruth got the measles!”) and I love the occasional asides to the camera from Lily. It’s a challenge to convincingly simulate water but they make it believable with the sound effects and the resourcefully-deployed sheet. And I laughed when Albert falls off the boat/sled . . .

Next, also from Hastings-on-Hudson, but this time by Luisa, Kate, and Ella, we have Kate DiCamillo’s 2001 Honor Book Because of Winn-Dixie:

Energetic and delightfully bonkers! I enjoyed the Southern accents and admired the brave choice to do the whole thing in one shot, without moving the camera, in the bedroom, with just three people playing all the parts.

And finally, speaking of Newbery winners about animals, here’s another adaptation of E.B. White’s 1953 Honor Book Charlotte’s Web, this time from Tredyffrin Public Library in Wayne, PA:

Great puppets and masks, a tight script, and I liked the creative camera work! Thanks, Tredyffrin Public Library!

Looking forward to seeing the filmmakers, and everyone else, this Saturday at the library! (And it’s never too early to get working on your 90-Second Newbery for next year’s FOURTH 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. The deadline is December 20, 2014!)

Thanks for the Order of Odd-Fish Fan Art!

Busy here lately! The (sold-out!) New York 90-Second Newbery Film Festival screening is just around the corner, and right now I’m appearing at the Warrensburg Children’s Literature Festival. All told, it’ll be about ten days away from my daughters Lucy and Ingrid, who are about to turn 5 and 3, respectively! I just realized I don’t put enough of them up on the blog. Maybe I’ll rectify that after the New York screening. Heather will be joining me in New York, and it’ll be a nice mini-vacation for us.

In the meantime, March 9 was my birthday! I’m 41 now. Heather and I celebrated by taking Lucy and Ingrid to see Frozen, but the girls both freaked out when the snow monster appeared. We had to leave. So here’s how my birthday ended: at 1 a.m., watching a torrented Frozen because I really needed to see how it ended. Clearly 41 years old is not quite as spectacular as 25 (all-night party in Tokyo!), or 30 (Heather and I took a 3-week trip to Costa Rica!), or even 35 (a surprise roast by all my friends!) . . . yes, 41 is a bit calmer.

Here’s a cool thing about this year’s birthday, though: these Order of Odd-Fish fan art birthday cards! The first, above, is by Jacob von Borg, who has previously shared his great Odd-Fish fan art (here and here) and is also one of the masterminds behind the two marvelous 90-Second Newbery movies I’ve received (Frog and Toad Together and The Old Tobacco Shop).

Anyway, check out Jacob’s birthday card for me above, with its mishmash, mogrelized All-Devouring Mother. That design was exactly the vibe I was going for when I wrote it. Pretty terrifying, actually, the more I look at it! I can’t wait to see what Jacob and his family and Portland Community Media has planned for next year’s 90-Second Newbery, too. I got a chance to hang out with Jacob (all-too-briefly) after the Portland screening, and a nicer person you’d never find. Thanks, Jacob!

Speaking of nice folks, Emily Bricker linked me to this wonderful Odd-Fish-style birthday card:

I love that Ken Kiang has a candy corn, of course . . . and that naturally Korsakov is the most enthusiastic eater! Fantastic work as always, Emily. One of these days I hope to meet you in Toronto!

Speaking of Odd-Fish fan art, a few months ago a certain 14-year-old Isabelle from a Chicago suburb sent this gorgeous Oona Looch:

I love how Isabelle nailed all the details: not only Oona’s bald head with the mysterious scars, but the sly way she’s looking off to the side, with a roguish smirk. Pure Looch! I love it. Isabelle came to know of Odd-Fish from when I spoke with Lemony Snicket in Chicago back in November. She picked up my book along with his and I’m glad she did! I wasn’t there to sign it (I was speaking onstage at the time), but Isabelle says that Snicket signed it in my stead, “flippantly” as she reports.

Remember Jacob, whose All-Devouring Mother kicked off this post? His sister Hanna also does some Odd-Fish art, and it’s also great, so let’s wind up the post with her takes on Jo and Fiona:


Top-notch work, Hanna! It was great saying hi to you in Portland too.

Thanks, everyone, for your Order of Odd-Fish art! Next stop, New York City . . .

90-Second Newbery: Thanks, Portland and Tacoma! Next: New York City

This is overdue, but THANKS to Tacoma and Portland for fantastic back-to-back 90-Second Newbery Film Festival screenings on March 1 and 2!

The Tacoma Public Library really pulled out all the stops for the March 1 screening, as you can see in their video above. We packed the house! The library actually provided popcorn, rolled out a red carpet with paparazzi for the filmmakers . . . and I kid you not, even crafted custom Oscar-like 90-Second Newbery statuettes for each filmmaker, laser-cut from wood at the library’s Maker Lab!

Here I am with co-presenter Catalyst and co-host “Sir Douglas” (playing the role of “England’s foremost John Newbery expert”), holding those ingenious trophies (which also smelled awesome, like a campfire):

I received lots of great 90-Second Newbery videos from Tacoma because of librarian Sara Sunshine Holloway, who brilliantly integrated 90-Second Newbery moviemaking seminars into the library’s yearlong programming. Thanks, Sara!

Here is Sara (she’s the redhead in sunglasses) with some of the young filmmakers whose movies were shown at the Tacoma screening. (Click here to check out all the 90-Second Newbery movies I received from Tacoma this year!)

We not only had a great screening in Tacoma, but also the next day in Portland! This year we moved the program from the Multnomah County Public Library (thanks for the first two years, fellas!) to the more spacious auditorium at Da Vinci Arts Middle School. The space suited the film festival well! Biologist-turned-writer Amber Keyser proved a game and witty co-host, and many of the Portland filmmakers came onstage, including the folks at Portland Community Media who made this hallucinatory 90-Second Newbery adaptation of William Bowen’s wackadoodle 1922 Honor Book The Old Tobacco Shop: A True Account of What Befell a Little Boy in Search of Adventure.

Here are the perpetrators:

Jacob (whom we’ve featured on the blog before, here and here) even brought up one of the puppets used in the movie, and made it talk, hilariously and sorta terrifyingly:

I stand by my statement: Jacob’s bizarre puppet would’ve made a wonderful third co-host for the rest of the evening. Get him with another puppet, and it could’ve been a kind of Statler-and-Waldorf for Ms. Keyser’s and my hijinks. What has more gravitas that a puppet? To ask the question is to answer it.

The final 90-Second Newbery screening for the season is March 22 in New York City, with co-host Libba Bray! We’ve already “sold out” all 500 seats at the Bartos Forum at the NYPL’s flagship branch, the Stephen A. Schwarzman building. Looking forward to it!