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The Order of Oddfish

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Countdown to San Antonio 90-Second Newbery, Part 3: Bridges to Terabithia!

January 6, 2016

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. This free event is “sold out,” but in my experience, only 80% of the reservations ever get used, so go ahead and put yourself on the wait list here. Or if you’re feeling lucky, just show up!

So yesterday, in our countdown to the San Antonio screening, I featured eleven 90-Second Newbery movies from Texas that were adapted from the most commonly chosen book for 90-Second Newberys—The Giver. You might wonder what the second most commonly adapted book is. (You’re probably not but I’m going to tell you anyway.) It’s a close race between Louis Sachar’s 1999 Medal Winner Holes and Katherine Paterson’s 1978 Medal Winner Bridge to Terabithia. Let’s look at the Terabithias that came from Texas this year!

First up is by Dominguez Garcia Serrano of Tale of the Dragon Productions:



Crisp cinematography, great editing, wonderful use of the song—at times it felt like a music video! I love how the story is told without a single spoken word, just adept visual storytelling! Good use of slow-motion during the race, and also when Jesse is throwing away the note. I also like how this updates the story with iPhones and showing a TV news report. Brisk, efficient, stylish! Well done!

Our second Terabithia is by L. Lopez, J. Ortega, and S. Mathis of Southwest High School:



A little long, but that’s all right! From the very beginning I felt in good hands with the adroit cinematography and editing: the tight shot of Jesse panting, the handshake, the closeups of nature. Good background music throughout. I like the way Jesse is skeptical of Leslie at first, and then gradually won over. Good Christmas scene with the “Peanuts” Christmas music, and even an actual Christmas tree! (For some reason I also liked how the “prince” dog was basically uncontrollable.) There is a strange tension in the scene in the dark—I like how her phone conversation is interspersed with pictures from the gallery itself—that’s efficient storytelling. “And all of a sudden I’m full of inexplicable sadness” was a good line. Nice grace note at the end with that tight shot of Jesse putting the crown on his sister’s head at the end!

The next one is by Brianna West of Louis D. Brandeis High School:



I knew I was in good hands from the start, with its title sequence’s somber piano music and slow pan over the waters. Well-shot throughout, with good use of locations and music! And I like how Leslie’s death is tastefully implied, by cutting to Jesse throwing rocks into the water and crying. This movie does a lot with pure visual storytelling, not so many words needed.

The next Terabithia is by Mariah and Bostin of Southwest High School:



I liked how it seemed to be a “found-footage” movie like The Blair Witch Project. Good cameo by the salamander. The amusingly perfunctory way Leslie’s death is handled is perfectly in the spirit of a 90-Second Newbery!

And finally, Avan Peltier of Tale of the Dragon Production checks in with this last Bridge to Terabithia:



I liked the feeling of going through a portal to get to Terabithia at the beginning. The way the movie chose to portray “The Giants” was hilariously ridiculous. When Jess learns that “the queen has died,” that was some great restrained acting on his part, some well-done grief! I only wish it had been longer . . . Not counting the title, credits, and blooper, the actual story part of the video is only about 45 seconds! I want more!

Thanks for these movies. See you tomorrow on this blog for Part 4 of the San Antonio countdown . . . and see you Saturday in San Antonio at the sold-out show!