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The Order of Oddfish


Catching My Breath

March 5, 2013

All right! The snow is dumping on Chicago today. The screenings of the 2nd Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival are triumphantly finished. Thanks, public libraries of Chicago, Portland, and Tacoma, plus New York’s Symphony Space, for hosting them, and thanks to everyone who came!

Here are links for if you want to read recaps of how the film festival went in Chicago and New York City (updated! with photos of Jon Scieszka in a muscleman costume, arm-wrestling Kate DiCamillo, and video of Jon and me singing the 90-Second Newbery theme!).

Now that the film festival season is behind me for now, I can concentrate on actually writing books again. So I’ll be taking a short break from the blog, just a week or two. In the meantime, here are pictures of my daughter Lucy Momo (above, with best friend Ezra) and below a picture of my daughter Ingrid!

Tacoma Screening of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival this Saturday!

February 22, 2013

We’re having two screenings of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival this weekend: Saturday (2/23) in Tacoma, WA, at the Tacoma Public Library, and two screenings on Sunday (2/24) in Portland, OR at the Central Library downtown. My co-host on Saturday is author Kevin Emerson (The Lost Code and more) and my co-host Sunday is author Dale Basye (Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go). Check events sidebar for details!

Last time I highlighted 90-Second Newbery videos I received from Portland. Today I want to focus on Tacoma. I previously featured two versions from Tacoma of Frog and Toad Together, by Sara Truscott and Jake & Nikki, respectively. But those aren’t the only fantastic videos I got from Tacoma!

For instance, check out the above 90-second adaptation of the very first Newbery Medal winner, The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (1922!). It takes guts to adapt this 500+ page book, but Jennings Mergenthal and Max Lau of Tacoma were up to the task. With stop-motion clay, no less! I loved it! The running gag about the Crusades had exquisite comic timing. The absurd “India” conclusion to the “Exploration” bit was funny too. I loved the way we could watch humanity evolve from a fish to a modern human all within seconds! And the sound effects were bang-on, too—from the clanging swords to the superheroic music when Napoleon appears.

With Max and Jennings’ permission, I tweaked the sound effects a little for the video featured above. If you want to see their original version, along with their other stop-motion clay creations, check out their YouTube channel here. Lots of great videos here!

Another standout from Tacoma was also comes with the Newbery’s inaugural year of 1922, the Honor Book The Old Tobacco Shop by William Bowen. Here adapted by a mysterious Tacoma entity known only as “Parker”:

I never read The Old Tobacco Shop, but now it’s clear I absolutely must read it as soon as possible. A boy smokes some magical tobacco and goes on a hallucinatory journey with clown-pirates? They don’t make children’s books like they used to. Looking forward to showing this on Saturday!

To see all the 90-Second Newberys I received from Tacoma this year, head over to this special page I set aside for them. Really intriguing stuff, including The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle done entirely with dogs!

Portland Screening of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival this Sunday!

February 21, 2013

I’m in Chicago right now, but in a few short hours I’ll be getting on a plane and flying to Portland, Oregon! Why? The Portland screening of the 2nd Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is coming up this Sunday, February 24th! Co-hosted by me and Heck series author Dale Basye! We received many great submissions from the Portland area this year, and I want to feature a few of them on the blog today. (We’ll be talking about the movies from the Tacoma screening on 2/23 later.)

Above is another very enjoyable 90-Second Newbery from Portland, courtesy of the Fairview-Columbia Library’s Teen Council, of Scott O’Dell’s 1961 Newbery Medal winner Island of the Blue Dolphins. Done with homemade puppets and cardboard cutouts! Ingenious puppet work, good use of the flashlight as a spotlight, and I especially liked the exchange “Come back or I’ll be stuck on the island for 20 years!” “But it’s my fishing spear!” “Fiiiiine” and when Karana bellows “Revenge!” (Nice flying devil-fish, too.)

In a previous post I featured the two versions of Arnold Lobel’s 1973 Honor Book Frog and Toad Together I got from Portland Community Media and the Seaside Public Library (check them out!). I’ve also featured Portlanders Xela and Riley’s Ramona Quimby, Age 8 previously. You can see those, and the rest of the entries from the Portland area for 2013, here.

Thanks so much, and I’m looking forward to meeting you all in person this Sunday!

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