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The Order of Oddfish

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90-Second Newbery in New York City

December 3, 2012

Thank you, New York City for a fantastic screening of the second annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! Special thanks to Jon Scieszka for co-hosting, to Kate DiCamillo (A Tale of Despereaux), Margi Preus (Heart of a Samurai), and Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer) for being my special Newbery-winning guests, to Brian Floca (Moonshot, etc.) and Dan Yaccarino (Lawn to Lawn, etc.) for being my author/illustrator guests, and of course to all the kids who made the great videos! (And thanks to all the folks who came; it looked like we have 600-700 people!) And of course, thanks to Symphony Space for being a great venue:

And here are all my special guests (missing me, for some reason, and Dan Yaccarino):

From the left, that’s Jon Scieszka, Margi Preus, Brian Floca, Kate DiCamillo, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

We kicked off the film festival with Jon Scieszka and me singing the 90-Second Newbery theme song, in which I accuse him (and the audience) of not having read any Newbery winning books at all. We absolutely kill it! By which I mean, we gruesomely murder the tune and ruthlessly assassinate any sense of rhythm:

One of the highlights of the afternoon was when I got Scieszka to arm-wrestle special guest Kate DiCamillo, to settle at long-standing grudge (look at the guns on Scieszka!):

And yes, that is an Over The Top movie poster I’ve altered for the proceedings:

DiCamillo won, of course. Handily.

Many of the young filmmakers came to the screening, of course. Here’s a hands-down favorite of many who attended, a one-man-show version of The Giver by Leo Lion of Brooklyn:

We also got Quinn Harrelson to come all the way from Miami Beach, Florida . . . he’s the mastermind behind this wonderful Claymation version of Mr. Popper’s Penguins:

And let’s not forget Madison Ross’ brilliant take on Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot—done in the style of a Godzilla movie, ridiculous dubbing and all:

There were various diversions in between the films. It’s the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott next year, so we did a “75-Second Caldecott,” in which I set author-illustrators Brian Floca and Dan Yaccarino against the Newbery-winning special guests to illustrate the covers of obscure Caldecott winners in 75 seconds or less, given only the title. (Sorry, I lost all the pictures from that, though!)

Though I do have a picture of the epic dance-battle between Jon Scieszka and Rita Williams-Garcia that wound up the night:

Thanks again to all the filmmakers and everyone who helped out! Here’s a montage we ran at the end of the night, showing great moments from all the films screened that day. It was a marvelous time! (Music by Mark Greenberg of Mayfair Workshop.)

Can’t wait to see what videos I get for the film festival next year!

90-Second Newbery: Frog and Toad Together

November 28, 2012

I don’t know how they do it! Children’s book author/artist and superdad Aaron Zenz has a blog with his family, Bookie Woogie, in which he and his (home-schooled!) sons and daughters review books, interview writers, and generally seem to have a fantastic time. They have already had two wonderful movies featured in our 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. The first one was a shadow-puppet version of Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and the other was an animated retelling of Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron. Both up there in the highest ranks of 90-Second Newberys.

But this latest one just might be the awesomest of all! It’s one of the stories from Arnold Lobel’s Newbery Honor winning Frog and Toad Together, done entirely Muppets-style. IT IS INCREDIBLE! My words cannot do it justice. Just scroll back up and watch it. Seriously. The adorable voices, the ingenious animation, the clever visual storytelling . . . it’s just a marvel. (And that’s REAL FIRE they use in the fireplace scene. Beautiful!)

And if you liked that, you’ll love this: a video about the making of Frog and Toad Together. If you want to see truly happy children achieving awesome things with their dad, you will love every minute of this. They had me at “We’re trying to eat a snake here”:

I wrote a longer blog post about the Zenz family here. You should really head over to Bookie Woogie and read their own blog post about Frog and Toad here, complete with even more extras.

And of course this movie, and many more, will be shown at the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival screening this Sunday, December 2, at Symphony Space in New York City! Co-hosted by me and Jon Scieszka, with special guests Newbery winners Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Margi Preus, along with artists Dan Yaccarino and Brian Floca. Full details on the Symphony Space website here.

This will be one for the ages! Don’t miss it!

90-Second Newbery: Movies From PS 11 in NYC

November 27, 2012

Just a few more days until the second annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at Symphony Space in New York City! It’ll be this Sunday, December 2. Full details of the event from Symphony Space here. I’m co-hosting it with children’s literature legend Jon Scieszka, with special guests kidlit superstars Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, Margi Preus, Dan Yaccarino, and Brian Floca!

Right now I’m in Rochester, New York, staying as a houseguest of the the marvelous, gracious Ross family. Last night we did a screening of some of Rochester’s standout 90-Second Newbery entries (here and here), including those of Madison Ross, who did an excellent 90-Second Newbery movie last year of Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard and this year, an even excellenter movie of Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot (in the style of a Godzilla movie!). Tonight I’ll be speaking at the Rochester Barnes and Noble and tomorrow at Writers and Books; see event sidebar for more info on those.

This Thursday I’ll be speaking at PS 11 in Chelsea in New York City, and I’d like to feature two 90-Second Newbery videos I’ve received from that very school!

If you scroll up, you can check out a superior adaptation of Jack Gantos’ Dead End in Norvelt, made by Mia and her friends from PS 11. Really well-directed! The locations were chosen perfectly, especially Mrs. Volker’s house. “Grandma Gilda” does a great job portraying her! Mia kicks off the story with a bang and keeps up the pace, telling the story swiftly and efficiently. I especially liked when “Mr. Spizz” (terrific voice and mustache!) is insisting to Mrs. Volker that he marry her. And of course, the brief half-second in which Mrs. Volker is trying to do surgery on Jack’s nose. A well-done movie of a book I love!

But that isn’t the only 90-Second Newbery we got from PS 11. Mohana, who is all of 7 years old, did this one-woman show version of The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth. I haven’t read this book yet, but now I’m quite intrigued, especially because of Mohana’s interpretation here—done entirely as a mysterious silhouette that rapidly and repeatedly changes character on a dime:

Thanks, Mohana! I loved the device of having your silhouette speak all the lines to get the story across! It almost kind of reminded me of when Gollum is arguing with himself in the Lord of the Rings movies.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all on Thursday at your school, and at the screening on Sunday!

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