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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery Early Entries!

It’s never too early to start submitting your videos for the FIFTH ANNUAL 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! The final deadline is January 10, 2016 but we’ve already received many top-notch entries.

For instance, check out the above from the Schaumburg Township District Library in suburban Chicago. Every year I hang out with the teens at the Schaumburg Library to help them make their 90-Second Newbery, because they’re a great group to work with. And this year, they chose to adapt Beverly Cleary’s 1978 Honor Book Ramona and Her Father.

Schaumburg always puts a crazy twist on the material. Two years ago it was The Whipping Boy done in the style of Star Wars, complete with light sabers and space battles. Last year it was Charlotte’s Web done in the style of a horror movie that was actually kind of legitimately scary!

This year they audaciously decided to adapt Ramona and Her Father in the style of PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING—complete with bombastic smack talk, crazy staged violence, and over-the-top attitude. This video answers the question: what if the Quimby family’s problems strained them to the point where everyday life turns into a neverending raucous brawl? Complete with flamethrowers, exploding pumpkins, and bonus points for Picky-Picky, the Quimby’s terrifying cat! Admittedly a bit longer than 90 seconds, but I promise you, you’ve never seen Ramona and Her Father like this!

Our next movie today is by Max K., one of my students back in 2013 when I taught a “90-Second Newbery” class at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development. You can see the movies from that summer here; among other roles, Max shines as the French mouse taunting Elmer/King Arthur in the Monty-Python-flavored adaptation of My Father’s Dragon.

Here Max tackles Lois Lowry’s 1994 Medal winner The Giver, giving it a great mixed-media, stop-motion collage montage:

One of the most fascinatingly abstract 90-Second Newberys I’ve ever received! The animated stones and chess pieces were inspired. I liked how Max represented the dialogue with text onscreen. The crazy barrage of images ending with a nuclear blast was awesome and overwhelming. I like how the only two places that had sound were the nuclear explosion and the song at the end! I also appreciated all the careful little touches, like how the “a” letters in the name turned red at in the title. The story is told with rapid efficiency, with good use of intertitles and onscreen dialogue! The chase scene at the end was epic. And I loved the “diverse” place Jonas finds at the end!

Next up is Katherine Applegate’s 2013 Medal winner The One and Only Ivan, written, directed, and edited by 10-12-year-olds Stephanie C., Maria M., Youssef Z., and Sarah Z., at North Andover CAM, a community television station in Massachusetts, with their coordinator Tiffany Begin-Stearns (who takes on the role of Stella here; “a challenge,” Tiffany wrote, “since my construction paper ears and trunk kept falling off”):

The “elephant” costumes were adorable—really, all the costumes were great!—and the green screen work was resourceful. I also liked the way the bear was manipulated puppet-style, very clever! The hash marks counting off the days in the zoo behind him was an inspired touch too. I liked the way the elephant ears comically flopped forward right before Stella’s death, and the record-scratch before she gave her final wish. The narrator was really expressive—indeed, all the acting felt committed and enthusiastic! Good musical and sound effects cues throughout, too. That always helps a lot. I particularly liked how the movie went to black and white for the memory-in-the-jungle anecdote (and I was amused at how the truck was helpfully labeled “TRUCK”). Good fast-forward for when Ivan is producing the art. I liked how it kept switching up the variety of shots for visual interest in almost every scene. All in all: a fantastic job! Thanks, North Andover!

Next up is Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s 1968 Honor book The Egypt Game, as adapted by Friends Central School in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania:

I appreciated the believable and amusing acting throughout (especially when the kid was yelling for his squid Security!), and the resourceful use of green screen mixed with real sets. Good use of montage in the clean-up scene! And the switch to black and white and the big black sheet coming on worked really well. Great summary of the story. I love this book, and I loved this adaptation!

This last one is from my neck of the woods, in good old Chicago. It’s by the kids at the Latin School’s after school club, facilitated by Ms. Gall and Mr. Sutton, and it’s their take on 2015 Honor book El Deafo (which happens to be the ABSOLUTE FAVORITE BOOK of my 6-year-old and 4-year-old daughters):

I loved how they replicated design elements of the graphic novel, such as having everyone wear the bunny ears and including word balloons. All throughout El Deafo, the heroine is trying to decide who she prefers as a best friends, and so this movie smartly repackages the story as a kind of political campaign by the various friends, vaunting their qualifications for the job. Many creative and enjoyable choices in the cinematography and how the story was presented, like when the kids pop out from behind Cece yelling “Me!” or how the movie slowed down for the “Nooooo!” The barfing scene was resourcefully done, too—I always love me a good barfing scene! I like how this group took the time to choose the right music for each part and also choose the appropriate costumes. The script was tight and told the story efficiently and amusingly, and with a great twist! And the way Cece was “flying” at the end was hilarious!

Thanks, everyone, for these early entries to the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! I’m looking forward to a great year of movies!

5th Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival screenings (and new deadline: 1/10/2016)!

Here are the screening dates for the FIFTH ANNUAL 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! We’ll be in TEN cities this year, from New York to San Francisco, from Chicago to San Antonio! Complete showtimes and locations below. Thanks especially to my co-hosts, authors Linda Sue Park, Peter Lerangis, Torrey Maldonado, Nikki Loftin, Kelly Barnhill, Keir Graff, and Marcus Ewert.

(The 90-Second Newbery is an annual video contest in which kid filmmakers create movies that tell the entire stories of Newbery-winning books in about 90 seconds. The filmmakers are encouraged to put their own weird spin on the material—for example, check out the above Charlotte’s Web, adapted in the style of a horror movie! Complete information about the 90-Second Newbery here.)

Deadline extension! Want to create a movie, but don’t feel you have the time? We have officially extended the movie submission deadline to January 10, 2016.

Here are the screening dates. (Want to bring the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival to your city? Every year we expand into more cities! Drop me a line at kennedyjames@gmail.com.)

90-Second Newbery 2016 Schedule
All screenings are free.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Special deadline for submissions for the special San Antonio screening (general deadline for the rest of the cities is January 10, 2016).

Saturday, January 9, 2016
The SAN ANTONIO screening of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the Tobin Center, in the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater. Co-hosted by me and author Nikki Loftin (The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy). Produced in cooperation with HEB Texas Grocery and Bibliotech, Bexar County’s Digital Library. 3-5 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Sunday, January 10, 2016
GENERAL DEADLINE for submissions to the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival!

Sunday, January 31, 2016
The CHICAGO SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the Vittum Theater (1012 N Noble St, Chicago, 773-342-4141). Co-hosted by me and author/Booklist editor Keir Graff (The Other Felix). 3-5 pm. Free, but it fills up every year, so make your free reservation here..

Saturday, February 13, 2016
The OAKLAND, CA SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the Rockridge Branch of the Oakland Public Library (5366 College Ave, Oakland, CA). 12-1 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 13, 2016
The SAN FRANCISCO SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the San Francisco Public Library main library (100 Larkin St.) Co-hosted by me and author Marcus Ewert (10,000 Dresses, Mummy Cat). 3-5 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, February 20, 2016
The TACOMA, WA SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the Tacoma Public Library (1102 Tacoma Ave S). 3-5 pm, but come early for the 2:15 reception! Make your free reservation here.

Sunday, February 21, 2016
The PORTLAND, OR SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At Portland Community Media (2766 N.E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Portland, Oregon). 3-5 pm. Make your free reservation here. (Note: The deadline for entries to Portland screening has been extended to January 22, 2016.)

Saturday, February 27, 2016
The MINNEAPOLIS SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the Minneapolis Central Library (300 Niccolet Mall, Minneapolis, MN). In Pohlad Hall auditorium. Co-hosted by me and author Kelly Barnhill (The Witch’s Boy). 3-4:30 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Saturday, March 5, 2016
The NEW YORK CITY SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the NYPL main branch (Stephen A. Schwarzman building, 5th Ave at 42nd St), in the Celeste Bartos Forum. Co-hosted by me and author Peter Lerangis (Seven Wonders series, 39 Clues). 3-5 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Sunday, March 6, 2016
The BROOKLYN, NY SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the Brooklyn Public Library (10 Grand Army Plaza), in the Dweck Auditorium. Co-hosted by me and author Torrey Maldonado (Secret Saturdays). 2-3:30 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Sunday, April 3, 2016
The ROCHESTER, NY SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the Dryden Theater at the Eastman House (900 East Ave). Co-hosted by me and Newbery Medal-winning author Linda Sue Park (A Single Shard, A Long Walk To Water). 2-4 pm. Make your free reservation here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016
The PHILADELPHIA AREA SCREENING of the 5th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. At the Friends’ Central School (1101 City Avenue, Wynnewood, PA). 7-8:30 pm. Make your free reservation here. (Note: The deadline for entries to Philadelphia screening has been extended to March 1, 2016.)