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The Order of Oddfish

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Minneapolis! Thanks for the amazing 90-Second Newbery screening!

March 1, 2019

Please donate to the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! It’s tax-deductible. Our fiscal sponsor is Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

The 2019 season of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival rolls on! Last Saturday we screened to a packed house at the Central Library in downtown Minneapolis. I always love bringing the film festival to Minneapolis—I’ve found the crowds are some of the best and most responsive.

Special thanks to my co-host, New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline West (The Collectors, the Books of Elsewhere series). She was recommended to me by last year’s host, Pete Hautman. Although I missed Pete, Jacqueline knocked it out of the park! It turns out she was a voice major in college, and has done a lot of musical theater, so she was a perfect stage partner for the opening skit, in which the HIGH SUPREME NEWBERY COUNCIL (that is, Newbery winners Kate DiCamillo, Jacqueline Woodson, E.B. White, and Meindert Dejong) attempt to shut down the film festival. This turns into some onstage hijinks, culminating in a transformed version of “One Day More” from Les Miserables. Check out Jacqueline’s exquisite voice! And her impeccable comic timing!

The great thing about the Minneapolis screening is that the filmmakers and their friends and families always come out in full force. We took a picture with some of them onstage at the end of the show:

Let’s look at some of the videos we featured at the screening! Stephanie, David, and Aiden of Boeckman Middle School created this witty and ingenious animated movie of Kate DiCamillo’s 2014 Newbery Medal Winner Flora & Ulysses:

In the full review on the 90-Second Newbery website, the judges say “This was some amazing animation! I loved how the movie’s minimal, deadpan style sometimes broke into crazy flights of fancy . . . It was a clever and fun idea to replace the squirrel of the book with a small unicorn. I liked the way Flora is telling her story directly to the viewer while the crazy visuals flash past and her expressions change to suit the mood and emotion of the story.”

Also from Boeckman Middle School was this adaptation of Kwame Alexander’s 2015 Newbery Medal Winner The Crossover by Leo, Brayden, and Lacie . . . in the form of an energetic, amazing rap:

As the judges said in part on the 90-Second Newbery website, “With inspiring enthusiasm and commitment, this movie left it all on the court . . . I was impressed at how the movie earnestly and honestly goes for the true emotion . . . great writing, delivery, and occasional visuals. This movie was a triumph!” Full review here.

Jayden and friends did this standout version of Louis Sachar’s 1999 Medal Winner Holes:

You can read the judges’ full review here, in which they say this movie “did a great job telling the entire story in a coherent, easy-to-follow way, which is not easy to do. And the movie does it with lots of style! Great use of green screen throughout, making the locations vivid and the scenes believable . . . I appreciated the attention to detail, like the orange prisoners’ outfits, the judge’s wig and robes, and especially comically long beard on the old man at the end . . . a clear, entertaining, stylish retelling of the story!”

There is another great movie of Holes, done by Melrose Elementary School. The twist? Instead of being set in the barren desert, it’s set in a snowy tundra. More appropriate for Minnesota, right? Check it out here.

If you watched the video of our opening skit above, you were probably impressed by the acting and comedic timing of the kid who played the “Sergeant-at-arms of the High Supreme Newbery Council.” That kid was Chris Conway, and he and his friends Anthony and Will made this funny and meta version of Gary Paulsen’s 1988 Honor Book Hatchet:

You can read the full review here, in which the judges say (in part), “I loved the irreverent, self-aware attitude of this movie! The snarky dialogue from Brian at the beginning set the tone perfectly . . . It was a fun change to the original book to make the pilot seem to survive the crash, and for Brian to seriously consider cannibalism . . . I like how the movie broke into reality by having the filmmaker’s father obliviously wander into the movie.”

We screened many other movies made right in Minnesota—too many to feature all in one post! I recommend you check them all out:

Hatchet by Ben W., Talesh T., and Daniel S.

Call it Courage by Louisa, Emily, Aryanna, Graham, and Alexander

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by Genet, Yamato, and Anwar

Penny from Heaven by Frankie, JoJo, Lucy and Mitali

The Crossover by Legend and Benny

Hello, Universe by Peter, Quinn, Cooper, and Rahul

Bridge to Terabithia by Kelsi, Abi, and Ella

Thanks so much, Minnesota, for some great videos and a great screening! I’m already looking forward to next year! Thanks especially to Leah Larson, Jennifer Nelson, and Jen Verbrugee of the Minnesota Department of Education for putting this whole thing together every year. Thanks again to Chris Conway for helping out in the opening skit. Thanks again to Jacqueline West for co-hosting. Thanks to Angela Whited and everyone at the Red Balloon Bookshop for selling books at the event. And thanks to Dan and Veronica who put me up for the weekend!

I don’t want to forget! Here’s a picture of me and some students at Da Vinci Academy of Arts & Science in Ham Lake, Minnesota, where I came to speak about The Order of Odd-Fish the Friday before the show:

And let’s finish off this post with the closing montage of the movies from last Saturday’s screening. See you next year!

Please donate to the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! It’s tax-deductible. Our fiscal sponsor is Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.