March 2, 2017
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The 6th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is in full swing, rolling across this great and glorious land of ours!
So far we’ve done shows in San Antonio, Tacoma, Portland, Oakland, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. (Phew!) I haven’t blogged about them yet because I haven’t had time, but I wanted to blog about Minneapolis as soon as possible because of our special co-host.
(Hey! If you can, come to our upcoming screenings in New York City, Brooklyn, Rochester NY, Chicago, Asheville, and/or Boston! I promise a great show and it’s free! In this economy, can you beat that? Full schedule here.)
Usually I have only one co-host. But this year I’m doing most of my screenings with TWO co-hosts. The first is always Keir Graff, author of the brand-new, rollicking, adventurous, funny children’s novel The Matchstick Castle. The second co-host changes from town to town, usually a local children’s author.
Who was my local co-host in Minneapolis? None other than the one and only Kelly Barnhill, who JUST HAPPENED TO WIN THE 2017 NEWBERY MEDAL for her magical, inventive, poetic The Girl Who Drank the Moon! I’m so happy for Kelly—I’m a fan of her previous books The Witch’s Boy and The Mostly True Story of Jack, and in fact Kelly has co-hosted the Minneapolis 90-Second Newbery twice before (here we are in 2016 and 2015).
Yes, I knew her when!
Kelly has always been a fantastic co-host, with great crowd rapport, and always game for whatever singing-and-dancing goofery the show might call for.
The crowd was ready for it! We completely filled up the Pohlad Auditorium in the Central Library of Minneapolis, with an audience of well over two hundred. By tradition, we always start the show with a singing-and-dancing skit. In this year’s opening skit, Kelly teaches Keir and me the secret to writing Newbery Medal-winning books. A gruesome device is revealed, a volunteer from the audience is roped in, Kate DiCamillo is affectionately denounced, there is some (tasteful!) murder, and then Kelly, Keir and I launch into the opening number from “Hamilton” with a 90-Second Newbery twist. I know what you’re asking: is there a video of these three middle-aged white people incompetently rapping? Of course! Scroll back up, check out the video!
Watched the video? Okay, so the girl from the audience who helped us out is named Hadley. She has attended 90-Second Newbery screenings before, but this was the first time she’s ever been part of the show! Here we are hanging out afterwards:
Thanks, Hadley! You dad a fantastic job, especially on such short notice!
Speaking of folks I just met at the show . . . I had a special surprise: I met a girl named Leonie who is a fan of my novel The Order of Odd-Fish! She was wearing an “Aznath, the Silver Kitten of Deceit” costume (confused? just read the book) and she also gave me this fantastic fan art, below!
For those of you who have read Odd-Fish, Leonie here illustrates the scene of when the cockroach butlers force Jo to wear “The Hat of Honor” and parade her over to the gossip columnist Chatterbox’s apartment:
Beautiful, amazing! I like that it’s an over-the-shoulder POV shot from Chatterbox’s window, cool choice! The Hat of Honor is hilariously elaborate, the joyous cockroaches are both anatomically accurate and yet dressed exactly as foppishly as I imagined, and I love all the spectators peeking in on the situation — including an incognitio Belgian Prankster at the bottom! (And is that the Schwenk flying in the sky in the background?) Masterful, Leonie! Thank you so much. (Intrigued by this glimpse into the world of The Order of Odd-Fish? Learn more about the book here.)
OK, back to the 90-Second Newbery! We received ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-THREE videos from Minnesota this year. An embarrassment of riches! There were so many great ones! We ended up showing twelve movies from Minnesota, plus a few other great movies from around the country. If I featured all twelve in this post, it would be way too long, so I’ll just highlight three of them and link to the rest. They’re all winners!
First up, here’s Cece Bell’s 2015 Newbery Honor book El Deafo, as adapted by Jackie Hjelden’s class at Highlands Elementary in Edina, MN:
I especially liked the way Cece gapes with puppy-love eyes at Mike Miller! You can see the judges’ complete comments on the video here.
Next, here’s a Claymation version of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 Medal Winner A Wrinkle in Time by Aubrey and Gia of Ms. Nite’s class at Anwatin’s Middle School:
I love the way the brain melts at the end under the relentless might of “the power of love”! Read the judges’ praise and commentary of the movie here.
Here’s another movie that was a huge hit at the film festival, a Lego stop-motion adaptation of Sharon Creech’s 2001 Honor Book The Wanderer, by Bai Li Johnson of Inver Grove Heights Middle Middle School:
Painstakingly animated, frequently ingenious, sometimes funny, and genuinely touching! Check out the judges’ complete comments here.
Like I said, we featured twelve Minnesota videos, way too many to put in one blog post! But if you’re interested, do check these out too, they all show a lot of hard work, resourcefulness, and wit on the part of the filmmakers:
Another adaptation of El Deafo by Highlands Elementary of Edina, MN, this time by Adna, Emily, Louisa, Reid, and Tyler.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by Max, Owen, and Simon of Creek Valley Elementary of Edina, MN.
Because of Winn-Dixie by Franklin, Harry, Noah, and Elijah of Sanford Middle School of Minneapolis.
A Wrinkle in Time by Cherry, Laura, Avery, Isaac, and Mira of Glacier Hills Elementary School of Eagen, MN.
Holes by Inga, Rose, Annabelle of Countryside Elementary in Edina, MN.
Kira-Kira by Olivia of Edina, MN.
Bridge to Terabithia by Kathleen, Taylor, Reid, and Milo of Creek Valley Elementary of Edina, MN.
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Dylan, Sam, and Eli of Somerset Elementary School of Mendota Heights, MN.
The Westing Game by Emily, Insley, Ellie M., and Ellie S. of St. Paul Academy and Summit School of St. Paul, MN.
Congratulations on being screened . . . and thank you to all these fantastic young moviemakers, and the teachers, family, and others who helped and supported them.
A very special thank you to Jen Verbrugge and Jen Nelson of the Minnesota Department of Education, for sponsoring this program. And thanks to Keir Graff and Kelly Barnhill for being such talented and enthusiastic co-hosts yet again. And thanks to Katherine and Marcus at Addendum Books for making our books available at the screening . . . and for hosting Keir, Kelly, and me at their bookstore the night before the screening!
Here’s a montage of all the movies we showed in Minneapolis. If I didn’t show your movie, it’s not because I didn’t like it, it’s just because we didn’t have time to show all the great stuff we received this year! I’m looking forward to seeing what you make for next year. (Hopefully, there will be a few adaptations of The Girl Who Drank the Moon in the mix… In Claymation? As musicals? In the style of Monty Python? Or in the format of a Seinfeld episode? Who knows? Go crazy!)
Again, want to keep the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival going next year? We run this dog-and-pony show on a shoestring. Believe me, every dollar counts! Make your tax-deductible donation here.