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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery Films From St. Andrews Episcopal School in Saratoga, CA

For the 2014 90-Second Newbery, I received six great 90-Second Newbery movies from Ms. Halla’s class from St. Andrews Episcopal School in Saratoga, California. Let’s watch them!

To start, check out Madeline, Eliza, Thomas, and Alex’s adaptation of Megan Whalen Turner’s 1997 Honor Book The Thief, above. Hilarious and clever! The kid who played the Magus in particular was so flamboyantly funny. “And this is your majestic steed!” and “You’re holding the wrong end of the sword” made me crack up, as well as every time I saw that little riding mower. Good beards. Good idol joke. Good everything! (And that deliciously ridiculous freeze-frame at the end!)

Now let’s check out Neil Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Medal winner The Graveyard Book, as adapted by Mario and Matthew C., with help from Jeffrey and Cedric:

The cinematography on this one was quite adroit (especially the silhouette knifing at the beginning) and the story was admirably swift and well-told. Favorite moments: Jack’s chilling turn around at the beginning, the exchange “Um excuse me who are you?” “I’m a very nice guy,” the deadpan “Ha I tricked you now you’re about to die.” “Uh oh,” and the Sleer voice was great! And of course the bloopers are always fun to watch. Great acting and creative storytelling all the way through.

Next up is Eugene Yelchin’s 2012 Honor Book Breaking Stalin’s Nose, by Matthew K., Garrett, Luke A., and Lucas, with help from David M:

First of all, can I just say I love the fantastic commitment to those wonderful Russian accents! I also thought it was a cool cinematic choice to ironically juxtapose the audio of the letter to Stalin praising the USSR, with the images of secret police busting down the door and taking kids away from their beds. And . . . was that a fight scene, or a game of Twister?

Next is James and Sydney’s adaptation of Gary Paulsen’s 1988 Honor Book Hatchet. I guess they couldn’t get a real hatchet from the prop department, so they use a pocketknife here instead. I give you their Pocketknife:

I really appreciated the original violin music! It followed the action of the movie very well and added a lot to it. A black and white silent movie is a great idea for adapting this book, since there’s not a lot of dialogue in that book anyway. I like that the moose is clearly labeled “moose.” The Bernard-Hermann-esque Psycho strings during the moose chase were particularly good!

Next up is Nancy Farmer’s 2003 Honor Book House of the Scorpion, as adapted by Cedric, Antonio, Robert, and Jeffrey . . . IN MINECRAFT!!!

Such a great idea to do it in Minecraft! One can pretty much make any sets you want at any scale you want, and this group definitely took advantage! Good music and sound effects. The chase scene was well-done. And any movie that has the line “Come to the plankton factory, boys!” must be doing something right. I like the way the characters convey emotion: basically, by jumping up and down, wildly rotating their arms, and running around in circles. Good job!

Finally, here’s a one-man show version of the same book, House of the Scorpion, by Armand, Andy and Kameron:

What a bonkers one-man show! It was a good idea to provide a quick explanation of what’s going on at the beginning, because Armand takes us down a rabbit hole of hyperspace craziness for nearly three minutes. I enjoyed it immensely. Great use of the green screen and costumes. And such glorious overacting, with flipping the wig and breathless announcements and the split-screen where Armand is kissing himself. “Yes it is true! I fed him arsenic! Met your death, El Patron!” What a breathless insane ride.

Thanks so much, Ms. Halla’s class at St. Andrews Episcopal School! Looking forward to seeing you at the screening on Saturday!