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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery: Animated!

March 2, 2012

CAN YOU FEEL THE NEWBERYCITEMENT? No, you can’t! Because that isn’t a word. But even still, I, for one, am looking forward to our 90-Second Newbery Film Festival screening in Portland tomorrow! It’s at the Central Library from 3-5 pm. Special guests Laini Taylor (author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone) and Dale Basye (author of the Heck series). Many strange surprises in store! Better get there at least a half hour early: this nonsense is going to fill up quick.

Today I want to feature three more videos that I’ve received from the Portland area. They all have one thing in common: they don’t use actors, but various kinds of animation. Above you can see a 90-second version of the 2002 Newbery Honor book Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath, as adapted by Alexandra Ruff. It’s fantastic work! Alexandra is truly a quadruple-threat powerhouse: adaptation, illustration, narration, and piano all by one kid. I love the pictures and animation, and especially the way Alexandra enthusiastically chirps the word “perpendicular.” And that has to be the cutest hamster-burning scene ever! (Alexandra’s film was even featured on Polly Horvath’s blog).

Alexandra writes, “The story in the book happens in Coal Harbor, British Columbia. We used to live in real Coal Harbor. Now we live in Portland.” That’s great to have the local angle! Thanks, Alexandra, and I’m looking forward to meeting you on Saturday.

But that’s not the only animation I’ve received from Portland. Here’s Eleanor Estes’ 1945 Newbery Honor book 100 Dresses as adapted by DC Bonavoglia and Greg Sweeney:

Good work with the paper cut-out animation and the silent movie style. I haven’t read One Hundreds Dresses (yet!), but DC and Greg’s version makes me want to. (I also appreciate that they picked an older, more obscure title to adapt . . . We need more of those for the film festival.)

Now here’s Neil Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery Medal winner The Graveyard Book, adapted by Gabi, Kendal, and Audrey from Robert Gray Middle School (see all of the videos from Robert Gray Middle School here):

Well done! I liked the choice to use puppets (and how they took the time to make both “young” and “old” versions of Bod and Scarlett.) Fun to watch, and a good retelling of the book!

I’ll see everyone on Saturday at the Central Library in Portland, 3-5 pm. Again, a word to the wise: the event is probably going to fill up, so you should get there early if you really want to get in . . .

90-Second Newbery: 3 Ways of Filming When You Reach Me

February 29, 2012

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in Portland is swiftly approaching! This Saturday, March 3, 3-5 pm at the Central Library. My co-host Laini Taylor did a nice write-up of it on her blog. Did I mention that Dale Basye of the Heck books will also be a special guest? And Portland band Great Train Robbery will provide some music. How will we fit it all in 2 hours?

I’ve been having a great time the week I’m here. On Monday night, my friends and hosts Joe and Madaleine (and her delightful sister Martha) invited over for dinner Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan, whom I met after I reviewed their book Frank Reade: Adventures in the Age of Invention in the Wall Street Journal. Also in attendance was my co-host for Saturday’s screening, Laini Taylor, with her artist husband Jim DeBartolo and their very cute daughter Clementine; and author Sara Ryan and graphic novelist Steve Lieber. A rollicking group! And on the same day, I took a walk and found myself randomly on Klickitat Street (where Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and friends live). Portland is a place of wonders!

Tomorrow I’ll be visiting Laurelhurst School, the source of this slam-dunk great 90-second version of Witch of Blackbird Pond. It’s all due to Alice McKee-Smith, whose kids and friends are also behind this very good From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Here’s Laurelhurst’s latest: Rebecca Stead’s 2010 Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me. Let’s watch:

What a blast! The Einstein quotes were an inspired framing device. And Laurelhurst has a convincingly crazy Laughing Man, which is always crucial. The post-it notes (“book”, “bag”, “pocket”, “shoe”) followed by quotes from the Laughing Man’s letters were a nice way to separate the scenes. I liked the explanation of time travel by Julia, too. Another Laurelhurst winner! I’m looking forward to meeting you all on Thursday.

But that isn’t the only When You Reach Me I’ve received from Portland. This one is from Confederation Park School in Burnaby, British Columbia:

Wonderful! The music cues were apt (the Twilight Zone and the authentic $20,000 Pyramid theme) The plot was very efficiently compressed. I particularly liked the maniacal guffawing of the Laughing Man. (But the best part, for me, is almost certainly when Sal gets run over by not a car . . . but a rolling garbage can. You make do with what you’ve got.) Some of these filmmakers from British Columbia will even be coming down from Canada for the show. Looking forward to meeting you, too!

And here’s one more When You Reach Me from Portland. It’s by Claire Thompson from the Northwest Library:

Lots of nice touches: the way Miranda shouts “Why, Sal, Why?!?” and the Laughing Man’s gesticulations were my favorite parts (he seemed to take inspiration from the Ministry of Silly Walks). The Laughing Man also really seemed to enjoy dying there . . . Thank you!

Indeed, thanks to everyone, and see you at the film festival on Saturday!

90-Second Newbery, Lego Edition!

February 27, 2012

I’m in Portland now! I’m staying with my friends Joe and Madeleine, who are being very good to me. I’m in town to screen the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival on Saturday, March 3, at Portland’s Central Library from 3-5 pm. (With co-host Laini Taylor! Special guest Dale Basye! Other surprises! More on that later.) Leading up to the event I’m appearing at schools and libraries in the Portland area; details on my events page.

So all this week I’ll showcase 90-Second Newbery videos I’ve received from the talented folks of Portland. Today’s theme: LEGOS.

Let’s start with the video above, Kieran, Lach, Christian, and Ackley’s adaptation of Sid Fleischman’s 1987 Newbery Medal winner The Whipping Boy. They use a mixture of Legos and live action to tell the story of the kingdom in which it is “forbidden to spank, thrash, or whack the heir to the throne.” A poor boy, Jemmy, is plucked from the streets to serve as “whipping boy,” and his job is to take the physical punishments really deserved by the arrogant and spiteful Prince Brat. I enjoyed this movie! Especially the doleful way in which the whipping boy says “I hate this job” and the resourceful use of Legos for the outside scenes. The story was briskly and amusingly told. Great job! The filmmakers will be at Saturday’s screening, I’m told. Looking forward to meeting them!

The next video is also done using Legos—and it’s of E.L. Konigsburg’s 1968 Newbery Medal winner From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The attention to detail, and the way they male the Legos “act,” is masterful! Good spoken performances all throughout, and of course the dance at the end was choice.

And like any good film, it ends with someone being eaten by a dinosaur:

This was done by by Molly, Rachael, Matt, Grant, and Miriam; you can check out Molly’s website here. Thanks so much for this video! They will also be attending the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in Portland on Saturday.

The next one is by Clay, Craig, and Ryan at Robert Gray Middle School in Portland. It’s a Lego-animated version of Jerry Spinelli’s 1991 Newbery Medal winner Maniac Magee:

I thought the “baseball” sequence in here was particularly resourceful. Clearly a lot of labor and ingenuity went into this, and it shows! Well done! (The school has done several more videos for the film festival, too! You can see all the 90-Second Newbery videos submitted by the Robert Gray Middle School here.)

Finally, here’s a stop-motion Lego version Where the Mountain Meets the Moon that is not from Portland, but Utah—and I just realized I had not yet featured it on my website! It’s by the ambitious young Parker Todd. His musical choices (“Eye of the Tiger,” etc.) were quite appropriate, and he did a smooth job of boiling down the plot to a short amount of time—not an easy task! Well done, Parker!

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival this Saturday in Portland! Here are the complete details of the day.

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