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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery Update: Claymation Mr. Popper’s Penguins

October 17, 2012

I’m back from the Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival, a great experience. The 90-Second Newbery mini-screening I did with children’s media allroundsman Dan Yaccarino was a success, and I got to meet many new authors. Weird coincidence moment: I’m talking about Roald Dahl to a just-met picture book author named Edward, and I happen to mention how the cover of the book The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington, which tells the story of Dahl’s, Ian Fleming’s, and Noel Coward’s espionage activity during World War II, has a picture of Roald Dahl cropped such that the person he’s walking next to is cut out. That person? Uh, Ernest Hemingway! I mention how weird it is that a Nobel-prizewinning author would be cropped out of a picture, and Edward says, “Um, Ernest Hemingway is my grandfather.” Whaaaaat? Turns out it’s true! I didn’t realize my picture-book friend’s full name was Edward Hemingway. In any case, I bought his excellent picture book Bad Apple, which got glowing reviews from my daughters Ingrid and Momo. Go buy it!

So, the 90-Second Newbery! You’re probably wondering where the masterful video above came from. Well, Quinn Harrelson from Miami Beach, Florida is one competitive eleven-year-old. His cousin made the glorious Claymation version of Island of the Blue Dolphins that was one of the standouts of the first annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. Not to be outdone, Quinn has responded with his own Claymation 90-Second Newbery: this one of Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater, which won a Newbery Honor in 1939. Check it out above!

What an amazing, spectacular job! Would you believe Quinn made it all on an iPhone? My favorite moment: Mr. Popper picks up the telephone, calls the aquarium, and without him even mentioning penguins, Mr. Popper blurts in apparent response, “Why yes, I would like a penguin!” (Is that all it takes? Just call up the zoo and they just plead, “Take some penguins! Please!!”?) The penguins are super-cute, especially the baby penguins, and the whole thing is funny and refreshing. Awesome job, Quinn!

In Quinn’s words, after he saw his cousin’s video, he was inspired to top it: “I am very competitive and would not have left this opportunity to compete untouched so I set out to make my own.” It’s fair to say that Quinn and his cousin have both made top-notch entries for the 90-Second Newbery! (Not clear on what this film festival is all about? Here are details. The first screening is in just a few weeks, on December 2, 2012 in New York City!)

Just in case you want a side-by-side comparison, here again is the work of Quinn’s cousin, last year’s Claymation Island of the Blue Dolphins:

Both winners in my book! Thank you!

90-Second Newbery: Sheboygan-Bound!

October 11, 2012

This weekend I’ll be appearing at the 3rd Annual Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Part of what I’m doing is hosting a 90-Second Newbery Film Festival mini-screening at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan from 6-7 pm. I always luck out with co-hosts for the 90-Second Newbery, and this time it’s no exception: the great children’s book illustrator Dan Yaccarino! (We have several of his books on our shelves at home.)

Today I’d like to feature three 90-Second Newbery videos I received from the Sheboygan area. The first one, above, is of Ellen Raskin’s classic The Westing Game by 8th graders Brianna, Kaylyn, Sam, Hannah, McKenzie, and Jeremy on Port Catholic School. They did a really good job boiling down the super-complex plot and vast cast of characters (and so many elaborate explosions)! I liked the ominous lightning effects and dramatic musical cues!

But wait, that’s not the only Westing Game I got from Port Catholic! Here’s another, by Jon, Grace, Ryann, Alma, and Adrian:

This one’s well done, too! My favorite part is the guy running through in a Batman costume and rasping, “I’m Batman.”

We have one more video from Sheboygan. This one is by Lily Winslow, and it’s of Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata:

I’m always a sucker for a good vomiting scene (wait, was that blue vomit?). “Kira-Kira” is Japanese for “sparkling,” and Lily’s movie got the tone of the book quite well! The music Lily used was a good choice—by strange coincidence, the same Debussy piece was also used for this 90-Second Newbery Claymation version of Island of the Blue Dolphins.

We’ll be screening all three of these Sheboygan videos, plus the best 90-Second Newbery movies I received in the past year, on Friday. See you there!

Here’s a weird coincidence: in our interviews for the Sheboygan Book Festival, both Dan Yaccarino and I name-check the amazing but relatively obscure kid’s book The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron (Here’s where I mention it, and here’s where Dan mentions it). This partnership was meant to be!

90-Second Newbery from the Foote School: 2012!

October 9, 2012

Back in 2011 I received a bunch of 90-Second Newbery videos from Jim Adams’ English class at the Foote School in New Haven, Connecticut. I was delighted with their work, and I featured them on the website back then. The Foote school is back again with another eye-popping batch of movies! (Wondering what the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is? All is explained here.)

Above is the most ambitious film in the batch, an adaptation of The High King from Lloyd Alexander’s “Chronicles of Prydain” series by Alex H., Alex W., Liam, and Sebsastian. I loved the elaborate costumes—and holy canneoli, what a fantastic large-scale battle scene! By far the best battle scene in any 90-Second Newbery film I’ve received! The “cauldron-born” were pretty fierce too. Very zombie-like. Marvelous!

To watch the rest of this year’s excellent entries from the Foote School (including A Year Down Yonder, Shiloh, A Tale of Despereaux, The View From Saturday, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond, click here.

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