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The Order of Oddfish

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Behold the Majesty and Madness of the 90-Second Newbery in SALEM, OR!

May 6, 2019

On March 22, we screened the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival for the first time in a brand-new city: Salem, Oregon. Thanks so much to Sonja Somerville and everyone at the Salem Public Library for hosting the event. Thanks to Ashley Gruber and all the folks at Capital Community Television (CCTV) Salem for partnering with us on this event. And thanks to the Book Bin for showing up to sell books.

The screening was hosted by me and New York Times bestselling author Heidi Schulz (Hook’s Revenge, Giraffes Ruin Everything). Heidi was an amazing co-host! The CCTV folks made a video of Heidi and I singing the opening song, “What Would John Newbery Do,” in which we celebrate the bombastic legends surrounding the man for whom the Medal is named. Heidi nails it, she’s a true lady of the stage! It’s the video above. Watch it!

After the show, Heidi and I posed onstage with some of the young Salem filmmakers who participated:

Let’s check out some of those great movies from Salem that we featured at the screening! CCTV had a camp in which participants created movies to submit to the film festival, and that’s how we got this delightful retelling of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 Honor Book A Wrinkle in Time by Padraig T., Miles C., and Ben M. Watch closely to see how this group of three pulls off a script written for six actors:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), “A fun, anarchic, unhinged romp . . . I loved Meg’s punked-out blue wig, Charles Wallace’s helmet and a superhero cape, and the witches dressed as Chewbacca, Elmo, and some kind of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ outfit . . . I especially loved the special effect of the “tessering”—a gleaming whirlwind that raptures the witches and our heroes from place to place . . . it was especially fun that the ‘dad’ was portrayed by a giant weird inflatable stick-man—especially when Meg throws him at Charles Wallace!”

Mac C. and Cooper H. from the CCTV camp submitted this next movie. It’s Gary Paulsen’s 1988 Honor Book Hatchet in stop motion Lego . . . and in the style of Star Wars!

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), “What a brilliant twist for a Hatchet adaptation: instead of the normal boy Brian, it’s a Star Wars stormtrooper; and instead of Brian surviving in the wilderness with only a hatchet, the stormtrooper must survive on an alien planet with only a lightsaber! I appreciated the attention to detail, like how the pilot was also an Imperial officer, and how their vehicle was an Imperial shuttle, and how our stormtrooper makes his shelter inside a fallen AT-AT (hey, just like Rey in The Force Awakens!).”

But that’s not the only Hatchet adaptation we received from the CCTV camp! Here’s another Hatchet, this time by Caden:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), “Imaginative, entertaining, and in some places quite impressive! The combination of Lego stop motion and green screen worked well to totally set the scene. I liked the fun twist this movie puts on the story: instead of a boy trying to survive in the wilderness with only a hatchet, it’s a unicorn trying to survive in the wilderness with only a horn!”

Caden also teamed up with Aniah for this final entry from CCTV. It’s an adaptation of Gail Carson Levine’s 1988 Honor Book Ella Enchanted:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), “A quick, fun retelling of the story! The graphics of the various characters and their backgrounds were well-chosen to indicate the corresponding parts of the story, and the onscreen text filled in the plot clearly and efficiently. The background music also felt appropriate to the quasi-medieval setting of the story. Solid work!”

We also received a movie from Maddie O’Donnell and members of the Salem Public Library Teen Advisory Board! It was a puppet-show adaptation of Sharon Creech’s 1995 Medal Winner Walk Two Moons:

As the judges said on the 90-Second Newbery website (full review here), “This accelerated, comedic, borderline-lunatic puppet show was lots of fun to watch! It was creative and resourceful to make all the puppets out of paper bags, with hand-made backgrounds. I especially liked the various hairstyles (made of yarn?) that flopped around amusingly . . . A tight script, shot in a no-nonsense way, and performed with gleeful enthusiasm!”

Thanks again to all the filmmakers for these great movies! All in all, it was an exceptional first-year showing for Salem. I’m looking forward to bringing the screening back to town next year, hopefully with even more local entries. The deadline for next year’s film festival is January 2020, but don’t procrastinate! You can actually start making your movies now, and turn them in at any time. As alwways, complete details (including helpful tips) can be found at the 90-Second Newbery website.

And, if you don’t mind me asking . . . if you enjoyed the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival this year, please consider kicking a few bucks our way. This film festival is always free, but it costs money to put on. From year to year, it all depends on the generous donations of those who love it. And anyway, it’s tax-deductible! Our fiscal sponsor is Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

As a final cherry on top, here’s the final montage of all the movies featured that day, which we played at the end of the screening: