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The Order of Oddfish

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The New York and Brooklyn 2019 90-Second Newbery screenings!

April 4, 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.

Last weekend I had an amazing trip to New York! Deb Ross (who organizes the 90-Second Newbery in Rochester, NY) and her daughter Ella took me out to see the Broadway show of Be More Chill. I got to have dinner with my friend Charlotte and her family who have been supporting the film festival from the beginning. I spoke at some schools and made some new friends. And I did screenings of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library!

These screenings were humdingers! Unfortunately I don’t have any usable video of the opening skits (if you want to see what it looked like in other cities, we got some good footage in Minneapolis), but above you can see me being confronted by Hannah, the Sergeant-At-Arms of the High Supreme Newbery Council, in our opening skit in Brooklyn. The same role was played by Violet for the New York Public Library screening—there she is below, with me and my co-host for the NYPL screening, Newbery Honor winner Rita Williams-Garcia.

I was particularly excited to work with Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer) as my co-host at the New York Public Library, and Torrey Maldonado (Tight) at the Brooklyn Public Library. Rita was actually special guest for the All-Star 90-Second Newbery when it was at the Symphony Space back in 2012, and Torrey has been my co-host in years past and he always kills it.

Here are Torrey and Rita and me with the filmmakers onstage after each of our events:

So much talent on those stages! Let’s take a look at the New York videos we featured one by one.

The aforementioned Violet and her friend Ocean have been making great stop-motion 90-Second Newberys for years. They created this Lego stop-motion movie of Jeanne Birdsall’s book The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. The only problem? Uh, The Penderwicks didn’t win a Newbery! But it did win a National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Good enough for me!

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (complete review here), “Fantastically elaborate stop-motion . .. the animation was smooth and fluid, the cinematography well-framed, the editing brisk and artful. I loved the big, impressive sets, especially the interiors of the houses . . . My favorite part was when the sisters build up the stairs to get Jeffrey out of his bedroom window, and he comes shimmying down on the rope . . . Entertaining and faithful to the book!”

Madeleine and Ellie came all the way from Lancaster, PA to attend the NYPL screening. Here’s their great movie based on Louis Sachar’s 1999 Medal Winner Holes:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (complete review here), “A fun, stylish retelling of the story! I love how it begins and ends with the two narrators relaxing by a cozy fire in their robes, sipping tea or coffee or something, telling the story of Stanley Yelnats in a vaguely aristocratic tone . . . This was fun to watch, inventive, and resourceful—I’m impressed you were able to tell so much of this story (which, after all, has a large number of characters) with such a small cast!”

Here I am facing off against the fierce and dangerous Madeleine and Ellie after the show:

We received a lot of great submissions from the New York Public Library’s Enrichment Zones. For instance, here is Yamilet, Ester, David, Sophia, and Ehye of the Inwood Enrichment Zones doing the “Garden” vignette from Arnold Lobel’s 1973 Honor Book Frog and Toad Together:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (complete review here), “Well-drawn backgrounds, beautiful paper puppets, and informative subtitles keep this adaptation of ‘The Garden’ fun to watch and easy to follow! The ever-changing music was a nice touch too, constantly altering to fit the development of the story . . . Fun, artistic, and true to the book!”

We received lots more movies from the NYPL’s Enrichment Zones—too many to feature in one post! You can see them all here.

Mohana Buckley has been submitting 90-Second Newbery movies for seven years, almost since the very beginning of the 90-Second Newbery. And Mohana’s videos are almost always based some extremely adventurous, out-there concept. Check out her movie this year of Eleanor Estes’ 1952 Newbery Medal Winner Ginger Pye:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), here the original story is “translated into Polish, Hebrew, Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Portugese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese, and Punjabi using Google Translate and then translated back into English . . . complemented nicely by the rapid-fire deployment of animated clip art . . . Inventive, weird, and satisfying!

The day before the Brooklyn screening, I was lucky enough to get to visit St. Ann’s School in Brooklyn. That school submitted two amazing versions of Eugene Yelchin’s 2012 Honor Book Breaking Stalin’s Nose. Here’s one by Luca, Sonia, Matteo, Louise, Leo, Lily, Will, Joe, Margot, Ellie, Renn, May, Allison, and Kiran:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (complete review here), “The black-and-white cinematography throughout gave the movie an appropriately old-fashioned historical feel. I liked the careful attention to the sets (the ominous black walls! the portrait of the Stalin the background!) and the voiceover carried the story forward efficiently and with verve . . . The disembodied nose of Stalin, complete with glases and little tuft of hair on top, was a masterstroke . . . This was great!”

Here’s another movie of the same book, also from St. Ann’s, by Braden, Clover, Ginger, Hannah, May, Renn, Rhea, Zoya, and Zeeshan:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (complete review here), “Ingenious and elaborate! This movie pulls out all the stops in making the Russia setting come alive: the Russian-y music that played through the whole thing, the authentic-looking Russian-language signs and text in Cyrillic throughout . . . but of course the big stroke of genius is having Stalin’s nose itself be the narrator, in a surreal puppet show in which it explains the events of the story in rhyming verse . . . Delightful, creative, and fun to watch!”

Ilsa Waldron, Mia La Rosa, and Erin Serpa (with the help of their cinematographer Lola La Rosa) from Queens made this movie of Kate DiCamillo’s 2001 Honor Book Because of Winn-Dixie:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (complete review here), “I loved the passion, energy, and craft that went into this movie . . . The cinematography was resourceful and the editing was brisk, keeping the story moving clearly and quickly. But my favorite thing about this movie was the acting! The librarian’s over-the-top freakout when she thinks Winn-Dixie is a bear, or the way Gloria Dump talks (“Ain’t that a terrible last name? DUMP!”) or how Opal’s big emotions of rage and joy and loneliness and impatience are bubbling under every scene . . . Wonderfully done!”

Young filmmakers from the Clarendon branch of the Brooklyn Public Library made this inventive version of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 Medal Winner A Wrinkle in Time by retelling the story using a bunch of anime clips:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (complete review here), “What a brilliant, deranged, sounds-like-it-shouldn’t-work-but-totally-does idea to retell the story of A Wrinkle in Time totally in redubbed Naruto anime clips! The concept was deliciously original, the new voiceovers were expressive and engaging, the clips themselves were cleverly chosen to visually tell the story, and to my surprise, by the end of this movie most of the story of the book really was conveyed! An entertaining, creative, original way to make a movie.”

We also featured this movie of Sid Fleischman’s 1987 Medal Winner The Whipping Boy by kids from the Foote School in New Haven, CT:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (complete review here), “The ‘prince’ was amusingly bratty and the whipping boy was funny (‘Finally! I won’t get whipped!’). I liked the whipping boy’s weirdly small bedroom, and it was fun to watch the friendship develop between the whipping boy and the prince. Good editing and concise script too!”

We actually got quite a few movies from the Foote School! If you want to see a bunch more great 90-Second Newberys, here they are.

And those are the movies of the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library screenings for 2019! Thanks so much to the folks at the libraries who helped us set this all up, especially Brandon Graham and Paquita Campoverde of the Brooklyn Public Library and Amber Moller, Beth Dukes, Tali Stolzenberg-Myers, and Emily Krell at the New York Public Library. Here are the final montages that we showed at the screenings. First, at the Brooklyn Public Library:

And here’s the final montage we showed at the New York Public Library:

It’s never too early to start making your movies for next year’s screening! You can turn them in anytime! Complete information about the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival here.

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.