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The Order of Oddfish

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The 90-SECOND NEWBERY Film Festival

Hey! There is a full-featured 90-Second Newbery website right here! At the website, I’ve gathered every 90-Second Newbery I’ve ever received, complete with judges’ reviews, along with many other resources for filmmakers, kids, and educators. (It’s on a Tumblr template, so I’m maintaining this page for schools have blocked Tumblr.) Check it out at http://www.90secondnewbery.com!

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is an annual video contest in which kid filmmakers create weird movies that tell the entire stories of Newbery-winning books in about 90 seconds. Every year, the best movies are shown at gala screenings all over the country—co-hosted by founder James Kennedy and other great children’s authors—in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, and many more cities. We are now in our ninth year!

Ever since 1922, the Newbery Medal has been recognized as the most prestigious award in children’s literature. But it turns out that any book, no matter how worthy and somber, becomes pleasingly ludicrous when compressed into 90 seconds. The 90-Second Newberys people have submitted in the past eight years have been ingenious, hilarious, and impressive—from musicals to stop-motion Claymation, from puppet shows to Minecraft! Check out 25 of the best 90-Second Newbery videos right here.

Teachers, here’s a fun project that will get your students reading Newbery winners. Students, here’s an excuse to mess around with video equipment. Librarians, here’s an activity to do with your teen advisory boards. Homeschoolers, here’s a good long-term project that teaches everything from close reading to scriptwriting, storyboarding to directing, and cinematography to video editing! Anyone can enter.

The rules:

1. Your video should be about 90 seconds. (Okay, okay: if it’s three minutes but absolute genius, we’ll bend the rules for you. But let’s try to keep them short.)

2. Your video has to be about a Newbery award-winning (or Newbery honor-winning) book. Here’s a list of all the winners.

3. No book trailers! No video book reports! We’re looking for full-on dramatizations that manage to tell the entire story of the book in about 90 seconds. Any format is OK—live-action, stop-motion, computer-animated, puppet show, whatever!

4. Upload your videos to YouTube or Vimeo or whatever and send me the link at james [at] 90secondnewbery [dot] com. Make the subject line be “90 SECOND NEWBERY” and please tell me your name, age, where you’re from, and whatever other comments you’d like to include, including whether you’d like me to link to your personal site. You can give an alias if you want; I understand privacy concerns.

5. Sending the link to me grants me (James Kennedy) the right to post it on my blog and to other websites where I sometimes post content (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and to share at public readings, school visits—and hopefully the “90-Second Newbery” Film Festival screenings!

6. This contest is open to all ages (K-12), and adult help is OK in making the movies.

7. The general deadline for the NINTH annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is January 10, 2020.


Intimidated? Don’t know where to start? I recommend checking out these video resources that I’ve put together for making a 90-Second Newbery. Help with cinematography, screenwriting, editing, and even a step-by-step “How To Make A 90-Second Newbery” guide!

And again, check out this page of some of the 25 most popular 90-Second Newbery video submissions. Perfect for getting a handle on what kind of movies folks are making for this film festival, or to get inspiration for your own movie.

Look, the American Library Association and I have had our disagreements. Ever since I exposed them as a bloodthirsty cult of obscene troglodytes, I’ve felt a definite chill from them. And it didn’t help when I tackled Neil Gaiman at the ALA conference and wrestled away his Newbery for The Graveyard Book (2009). People can be sensitive! I’m hoping that this 90-Second Newbery Film Festival will mend fences.

Get ready for next year! The deadline for videos for the NINTH Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is JANUARY 10, 2020. You can submit your entries at any time of the year.

Want to know what the screenings are like? Check out this recap of the 2019 season, which features pictures from the screenings, some of the best movies of the season, plus a video of the opening skit in which co-host M.T. Anderson and I confront “The High Supreme Newbery Council”!

Now go, dust off your beloved copy of Song Of The Pines: A Story of Norwegian Lumbering in Wisconsin by Walter & Marion Havighurst (1950), and make me a movie!

(By the way, the 90-Second Newbery relies on your donations to keep going. Make your tax-deductible donation here! We are under the fiscal sponsorship of the Fractured Atlas nonprofit.)

James Kennedy is the author of the young adult fantasy The Order of Odd-Fish, which did not win the Newbery (or did it?). He lives in Chicago with his wife and two daughters. Here is his blog.