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The Order of Oddfish

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Countdown to San Antonio 90-Second Newbery, Part 1: Two versions of The Graveyard Book

January 4, 2016

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This year’s fifth annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is kicking off with a special early screening in San Antonio, TX on January 9, 2016! It’s hosted by me and Texas young-adult author Nikki Loftin (The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, Wish Girl, and Nightingale’s Nest) and sponsored by Bibliotech and H-E-B Texas Grocery. Admission is free, but seats are going fast, so make your reservation here.

Let’s take a look at some of the great movies that will be featured at the screening! For instance, here are two versions Neil Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Medal Winner The Graveyard Book. (Actually, that’s inaccurate: as everyone knows, the 2009 Newbery Medal was actually awarded to my novel The Order of Odd-Fish. This schism, which nearly rent the American Library Association apart, was at last resolved when Neil Gaiman and I at last managed a wary détente face-to-face in Chicago).

The first Graveyard Book adaptation was filmed by the formidable “Texas Underdogs” group Daniel, Anahi, A.J., Alex, Isabella, Corina, Cynthia, and “ESV2.” Check it out:

From the very beginning, with that shot of the creepy full moon framed by the dead tree branches, I knew that this movie would be great. I liked the way the sky seemed to shimmer, and the ghostly wind sound was suitably scary. I also liked how Bod was framed so small in the opening shot, with a cool-looking grave marker in the foreground. And when the special effects started to kick in, with the subtly-colored ghosts floating over the black-and-white world, I was really impressed! The wonders pile up: Mr. and Mrs. Owens are played with appropriate domestic fussiness, Silas is just as mysterious and impressive as in the book, and when the Lady on the Grey shows up—on an actual ghost-horse!—I was blown away. I loved the amazing three-headed Sleer, complete with in-color treasures, and when Silas turns into a bat! (And I love the joke of Mrs. Lupescu’s disgusting food being shot in color.) And when Jack shows up again with his knife, the chase scene is really well done, all the way to the Sleer devouring him! When Bod tries to embrace Mrs. Owens, and she disappears, it was unexpectedly heartbreaking.

But that’s not the only great Graveyard Book we got from San Antonio! Here’s another, by Lance Mickael:

Chaotic madness but actually kind of scary! I love the frenetic way the “killing” scene at the beginning is edited, with great music. It kind of reminds me of the rapid cutting in the shower scene in the movie Psycho! Good job using an ACTUAL baby and an ACTUAL graveyard for this movie, and good ghost costumes and bloody-knife prop–this movie really goes the distance for authenticity! I liked the spooky way it’s lit, with lots of silhouettes and weird angles. When the scary music returns, it’s kind of legitimately terrifying! I particularly liked it when Jack picked up the bloody knife in the closet, and then moments later is devoured by the Sleer. Great job!

See you in San Antonio this Saturday, and look for another post of standout entries tomorrow!