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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery: Hatchet and Tale of Despereaux. Plus: Giver Trailer!

March 8, 2011

The entries for the “90-Second Newbery” film festival have started rolling in! For you newcomers: it’s a video contest I’m doing in which participants are invited to make videos that tell the full story of a Newbery award-winning book in 90 seconds or less. Complete details about the contest here.

Today, I’m happy to share with you three short films from the Latin School in Chicago. The first one (above) is a 90-second version of Gary Paulsen’s 1987 Newbery winner Hatchet, by Isabel, Molly, Kate, Abigail, and Audrey. Here’s some resourceful filmmaking! Don’t have hatchet handy? A wire clothes hanger will do. Not having a pitiless wilderness to use, they used the back hallways of their school. Favorite line: “Oh look, a bird. Let’s kill it and eat it.” The bird obligingly dies. Well done! They even thoughtfully included a blooper reel!

Next up: Susan Dicamillo’s Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, the 2004 Newbery award winner. It’s by Chris, Charlie, and Sydney, also of the Latin School:

I particularly liked the close attention to audio and music here, with Despereaux having a suitably “mousy” voice. The action zips from lyrical yearning to an extended action sequence! Tails are lopped off! Hairsbreadth escapes! And there’s something pleasingly absurd about the king going from roaring “Rodents know nothing of honor!” to sententiously declaiming “I approve” within a minute. You know, I don’t think I’m ever going to take The Tale of Despereaux seriously again. Great job!

The last video I want to share today is by Jordan Bialik (and friends Yonatan and Ben). It’s of Lois Lowry’s 1994 Newbery winner, the dystopia The Giver. Jordan’s movie is a trailer, not a full retelling of the story in 90 seconds, so unfortunately it’s not admissible for the contest! But I wanted to share it anyway, because Jordan has some impressive special effects in here, and it’s entertaining. (But please, in general, no trailers!) Jordan told me in an email that he’s a budding filmmaker, making videos since the age of seven. This summer he’s making a 30-minute movie called “The 217 Secret.” Good luck, Jordan — I’ll be interested to see it when you’re done! And now, a trailer for The Giver:

Thanks for all the videos so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing even more!