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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery 2017: ASHEVILLE!

April 24, 2017

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.

That picture above? It’s from the first ever Asheville, NC 90-Second Newbery Film Festival on April 22, 2017! From left to right, you can see co-host Alan Gratz, me, and audience volunteer Kayenta onstage at the Pack Memorial Library during our opening skit.

Every year, the 90-Second Newbery expands into new cities. This year, due to the efforts of Elliot Weiner, we added Asheville to the list. Elliot is a man of many talents. He used to lead groups of kids to participate in the 90-Second Newbery back when he lived in Tacoma. He helped them make great video adaptations of Joyce Sidman’s 2011 Honor Book Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, Gail Carson Levine’s 1998 Honor Book Ella Enchanted, and Wanda Gag’s 1929 Honor Book Millions of Cats.

Since then, Elliot moved from Tacoma to Asheville. It was his bright idea to bring our film festival there too! He arranged our venue at the Pack Memorial Library, partnered with Spellbound Children’s Bookshop for publicity, landed grants from the Asheville Awesome Foundation and Friends of Buncombe County Libraries (thanks so much!), and got the word out—resulting in a whopping 13 movies from Asheville in our very first year. He made award statuettes, popped popcorn, and rolled out a literal red carpet with paparazzi for the screening event. Thank you so much, Elliot, for making the film festival happen in Asheville. I’m already looking forward to returning next year! (It also gives me a chance to visit with my old friend Nate Murphy and his wife Meriam and their daughter Myrrah, who kindly put me up for the weekend.)

Thanks also to my co-host Alan Gratz! Go read his great books Refugee, Projekt 1065, and his “League of Seven” series (and many, many more). I had met Alan once before at the Decatur Book Festival, and bought League of Seven, which I enjoyed very much (but was too shy to tell him when we met in person). Alan came loaded for bear, with the song and lines of the opening skit memorized, game for anything! Alan, you were a great co-host!

Special thanks to Kayenta who helped us out in the beginning skit, and to the Pack Memorial Library for putting on this event, in particular Jesse and Raj. Above all, thanks to the filmmakers, and the parents and teachers who helped them, especially those who attended on April 22!

Here are some pictures from the day:

Let’s check out some of the Asheville movies we featured that day! I won’t be able to feature all thirteen on them in this post—that would be too unwieldy!—but I’ll link to all of them. And all of the movies have been reviewed on the 90-Second Newbery website. Some excerpts of the reviews are included below.

First off, let’s check out this animated paper cut-out version of Robert C. O’Brien’s 1972 Medal Winner Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Lola Black. With Lola’s permission, I added the voices of my daughters Lucy and Ingrid to the movie, as well as my niece and nephew Domingo and Amalia, so that kids who couldn’t read the subtitles could also enjoy the movie:

The judges on the 90-Second Newbery blog said, in part, “Beautifully drawn and fluidly animated! The movie gets the story across with quiet subtlety, resourcefully using nothing but nature sound effects, animated cut-paper drawings, and pithy intertitles . . . Impressive and wonderfully crafted.”

Next up is Ruth S. Gannett’s 1949 Honor Book My Father’s Dragon as adapted by Gavin, Iva, Evie Gray, and Fern of Mechanical Eye Microcinema:

The judges on the 90-Second Newbery blog said, “I like how the movie switches between live-action and stop-motion–the alternation keeps the audience on its toes and piques visual interest. . . . Great clay animals and elaborate sets . . . Tight script, impressive craftsmanship, engaging acting, very entertaining!”

Elliot Weiner, Chanda Calentine, and the ACT Youth Theatre Program submitted two great movies for the film festival. First was Richard and Florence Atwater’s 1939 Honor Book Mr. Popper’s Penguins:

The judges on the 90-Second Newbery blog said, “I love this idea of doing a ‘horror’ twist on the book! Great idea to start with a flashforward of the penguin Captain Cook etc. in jail, and then flashing back to see how we got to that desperate point–establishes the high stakes early. . . . The funny ‘quork! quork!’ penguin noises throughout worked well too. Impressive production values, good cinematography and editing, a blast!”

Elliot, Chanda, and the ACT Youth Theatre Program also did a similarly great adaptation of Eleanor Estes’ 1945 Honor Book The Hundred Dresses, which you can see here (along with its own glowing review.)

Those weren’t the only great movies we got from Asheville! Here are the others—go ahead and click on the links to watch the movies and read the reviews:


Jerry Spinelli’s 1998 Honor Book Wringer, adapted by Zachary Eden and Friends of North Windy Ridge Intermediate

Kate DiCamillo’s 2014 Newbery Medal Winner Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by May, Caitlyn, Eve, Lee, Elly, Olivia, and Toby

Kate DiCamillo’s 2014 Newbery Medal Winner Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Charlie Marsh

Cece Bell’s 2015 Honor Book El Deafo by Colette Russ

Arnold Lobel’s 1973 Honor Book Frog and Toad Together by Sully, Cade, and Greyson of Isaac Dickson Elementary

Kate DiCamillo’s 2004 Medal Winner The Tale of Despereaux by Ashley, Grace, Mahogany, and Miles of Isaac Dickson Elementary

Kate DiCamillo’s 2004 Medal Winner The Tale of Despereaux by Delphi, Kayla, Mya, Lydia of Isaac Dickson Elementary

Matt de la Pena’s 2016 Medal Winner Last Stop on Market Street by Alex, Harrison, Jett, and Wyatt of Isaac Dickson Elementary

Christopher Paul Curtis’ 2000 Medal Winner Bud, Not Buddy by Ada, Ashni, Coral, Ife, and Maggie of Isaac Dickson Elementary

Thanks so much, Asheville! Here’s the closing montage that we ran at the end of the afternoon. Looking forward to seeing what movies I get from North Caroline next year! Deadline is January 12, 2018. Stay tuned to the 90-Second Newbery website for details!

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.