order of oddfish cover

The Order of Oddfish

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The Chicago 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, 2016!

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival relies on your donations! Want to support what we’re doing? Please donate the 90-Second Newbery here! We are a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

Thanks everyone who came out to the 2016 Chicago screening of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival last Sunday! We packed the 300-seat Vittum Theater with a super-enthusiastic audience.

A huge thanks to author of The Other Felix and Booklist Online Editor Keir Graff for once again co-hosting the Chicago screening with me. Keir not only co-hosts, he and I also write the opening skit together. Unfortunately we didn’t get a usable video of this year’s Chicago opener, which commemorated the 90-Second Newbery’s fifth anniversary by looking forward to what the film festival will be like five years from now.

Keir and I played dueling time-travelers, and our opener soon erupted into a lightsaber battle that was resolved by the song “Blame Newbery!” (tune stolen from South Park’s “Blame Canada”). In the picture below, time-traveling Keir informs me who wins the 2018 Newbery Medal: Vorblop Homvaloo 9 from Jupiter, who will write the instant children’s book classic Flimglorp Jeep-Joop Foopy Fop:

Thanks to Travis Jonker of the 100 Scope Notes blog for that cover, which you can see in its full glory here. I asked Travis because his blog has a great series called Covering the Newbery in which he designs alternative covers for Newbery-winning books. Check it out!

One of the big hits of the evening was Walt Disney Magnet School’s adaptation of Rebecca Stead’s 2010 Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me in the style of a Law And Order episode. It cleverly hit most of the book’s story beats while fulfilling the tropes Law and Order, from the “konk-konk” noise to the classic good cop/bad cop interrogation scene. I especially liked the courtroom scene at the end, in which the attorney attempts to unravel the book’s complex time-travel plot with a Glenn Beck-style chalkboard full of crazy scribblings:

I especially liked how, on her way out of the interrogation room, the “bad-cop” detective picks her cup of coffee up off the floor where she flung it, and without missing a beat begins drinking from it again with a backwards scowl at Marcus.

This year we also got a lot of great entries from Francis Xavier Warde School in Chicago. Here’s one of them that was a hit at the screening. It’s of Gary Paulsen’s 1988 Honor Book Hatchet, but with a twist: instead of its main character, Brian, getting stranded in the forest with nothing but a hatchet to help him survive, he merely gets trapped in a 7-11, where survival is, well, kind of easy. But the breakout character here is Brian’s mom, with her odd mannerism of repeatedly whacking a foil pan with a spatula:

We also got a lot of great entries from Edgewood Middle School in Highland Park, Illinois. Among them was this entertaining adaptation of Kwame Alexander’s 2015 Newbery Medal winner The Crossover, a novel-in-verse about two basketball-playing twin brothers, Filthy McNasty and J.B., who have a falling-out when J.B. gets a girlfriend:

I love the portrayal of “Miss Sweet Tea” by a boy in a wig. He really works it!

Thanks again to everyone who helped out at the screening: Laura Kollar, Mary Kate Barley-Jenkins, Tom Arvetis, and Ford Altenbern of Adventure Stage Chicago; Keir Graff, for co-hosting; Kate Babka, who helped in the tech booth with the lights and sound; Eti Berland, for being the indefatigable master of the 90-Second Newbery’s social media; Travis Jonker for the cover; Joseph Lewis for taking the pictures and video; Northwestern Settlement for being our nonprofit sponsor; and of course all of the kids, teachers, and families who made the movies and came out to watch!

Let’s wrap this up with the closing montage for the night, which features almost all the movies featured at the Chicago screening:

Thanks, Chicago! Already looking forward to next year. Next: SAN FRANCISCO and OAKLAND, this Saturday, February 13th!

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival relies on your donations! Want to support what we’re doing? Please donate the 90-Second Newbery here! We are a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.