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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery 2017: SAN ANTONIO

May 10, 2017

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Excuse me for my self-indulgence, but I love that first picture above. I look like the dictator of some kind of insane cartoon wonderland. Which is, to be sure, where I rightfully belong.

In fact, the picture was taken at the very first screening of this year’s season of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival—which was on January 21, 2017 in San Antonio, at the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre! (I know, I know. This post is way overdue.)

In the second picture above, I join my co-host Nikki Loftin in congratulating Mya Prado, the grand prize winner of the San Antonio 90-Second Newbery, for her great animated adaptation of Louis Sachar’s 1999 Medal Winner Holes. More about her, and the other winners and filmmakers, below!

This is our second year in San Antonio. Thanks to Laura Cole and her team at Bibliotech, Bexar County’s Digital Library, for bringing this all together. Thanks also to Christa Aldrich and everyone at H-E-B Read 3, HEB Texas Grocery’s literacy program, for sponsoring the program. And special thanks to Judge Nelson Wolff of Bexar County for supporting the project from the beginning. Here are Christa and Laura introducing the program:

And a gigantic thanks to Nikki Loftin (author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, Wish Girl and Nightingale’s Nest—check out all of her books here). Just like last year, she sang like a diva, she danced like a dream, she cracked wise like a pro, and she generally classed up the whole show! I love co-hosting the film festival with Nikki (check out how she brought down the house with last year’s opening)!

Below is a picture of Nikki and me doing this year’s opening skit with our audience volunteer. In it, we discover a machine that creates future Newbery-winning books out of thin air . . . but at a gruesome price! Unfortunately I don’t have a good video of the skit in San Antonio, but if you’re dying to see it, you can see the same skit done at the Minneapolis screening with me, author Keir Graff, and this year’s Newbery Medal winner Kelly Barnhill here. (It’s too bad, because Nikki and our young volunteer (whose name I’ve unfortunately misplaced) really nailed it!)

This year’s 90-Second Newbery got a jolt of serious star power. Famous director Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Sin City, From Dusk Till Dawn) taped this introduction that we showed at the top of the show. I’m so honored and grateful! Come to think of it, it makes sense that Robert Rodriguez would understand the value of the 90-Second Newbery. After all, he made his start by directing the feature El Mariachi, which he shot with a budget of $7000 (!!!), a movie that went on to make millions and indeed, his name. The kids who make 90-Second Newberys are like Robert Rodriguez: perhaps with limited resources starting out, armed with little but the love of filmmaking and the passion to tell a story. They too are finding success. (Full disclosure: I saw El Mariachi when I was in college (I think 1993?) and I remember being blown away by it even before I knew it had been made on a shoestring. I like many of Rodriguez’s movies, but the one that has a special place in my heart is his Planet Terror section of Grindhouse, an adrenaline-soaked gory thrill ride. So good.) Thanks, Robert Rodriguez, for this inspiring introduction!

And of course, thanks most of all to all the kids for the fantastic movies they made—and the audience who came out, packing the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre!

The San Antonio screening is different than all the other 90-Second Newbery screenings because, thanks to the generosity of HEB, we’re able to offer cash prizes for the best movies we received. Let’s check those out.

There was an honorable mention for this adaptation of Beverly Cleary’s 1984 Medal Winner Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Noah Cotton of Alamo Heights High School (full review on the 90-Second Newbery blog here). He won $250 for his school!

Third place and $500 went to Elijah, Vincent, Josselin, and Esteban of San Antonio ISD for their adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s 2004 Medal Winner Tale of Despereaux (full review here):

Second place and $750 went to this great adaptation of Jacqueline Kelly’s 2010 Honor Book The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Allison Reyna of Alamo Heights High School. (full review here).

First place, and a check of $1500, went to Mya Prado of South San ISD for her animated adaptation of Louis Sachar’s 1999 Medal Winner Holes (full review on the 90-Second Newbery site here):

I’m thrilled and proud of all the great movies we’ve received from Texas this year! Here are a few more notable ones, below. (I wanted to feature them all, but you can only have so much embedded video in one blog post.)

Joshua, Tallulah, Kalea, Bryan, and Professor Floyd of Mission Academy turned in this great adaptation of Scott O’Dell, 1968 Honor Book The Black Pearl:

Here Kate DiCamillo’s 2014 Medal Winner Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures gets a great adaptation from Hannah, Oluchi, Olivia, Valerie, Mykhi, Madison, Julian, and Ryan of Frances M. Rhodes Elementary:

And Pershing Elementary School did a very entertaining adaptation of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s 1992 Medal Winner Shiloh here:

I’d love to show all the great local movies that we featured at the San Antonio screening, but there simply isn’t room! But you should check out all these other worthy entries:


Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White, 1953 Honor Book) adapted by Hiram and Jason

Princess Academy (Shannon Hale, 2006 Honor Book) adapted by Sofia, Karen, and Sarah by Martinez Films

The Giver (Lois Lowry, 1994 Medal Winner) adapted by Noah, Alyssa, Adam, and Keona of Creekwood Middle School

The Giver (Lois Lowry, 1994 Medal Winner) adapted by Camille McWhorter of Creekwood Middle School

Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson, 1978 Medal Winner) adapted by Daniella Garcia’s class of South San ISD – Kazen Middle School

The Slave Dancer (Paula Fox, 1974 Medal Winner) adapted by Aaliyah and Giselle of Scobee Middle School

The Upstairs Room (Johanna Reiss, 1973 Honor Book) adapted by Juanita, Yisselle, and Yuliana of Dwight Middle School, SSAISD

Last Stop On Market Street (Matt de la Peña, 2016 Medal Winner) adapted by Hannah, Ty, Victoria, Anaya, John, Francisco, Mr. Sandrin and Mr. Smith

One-Eyed Cat (Paula Fox, 1985 Honor Book) adapted by Elliott Brooks of Shepard Middle School, SSAISD

The Giver (Lois Lowry, 1994 Medal Winner) adapted by Kyle, James, Elaon, and Adam

Last Stop On Market Street (Matt de la Peña, 2016 Medal Winner) adapted by Emelyn and Hector of Margil Elementary School

The Giver (Lois Lowry, 1994 Medal Winner) adapted by Catherine, Skye, Austin, and Brigham

The Giver (Lois Lowry, 1994 Medal Winner) adapted by Spencer, Kim, Rebecca, and Daniel of Green Table Productions

Want to see more pictures of the day? Dave Wilson has photos for you here.

And here’s the closing montage of all the videos we showed at the San Antonio 2017 screening. Looking forward to seeing what you all make for next year! Get working now—the deadline of January 12, 2018 is coming sooner than you think!

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival relies on your support to survive. Want us to keep doing this? Make a tax-deductible donation here.