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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery: The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1959) and A Wrinkle in Time (1963)

May 9, 2011

Our daughter’s still not born yet! So I have just enough time to post two more GLORIOUS 90-Second Newbery videos before I go on my brief hiatus. (I’ll get to everyone, I promise! I generally post them in the order received.)

This first one is of 1959 Newbery medal winner The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. It’s done by Mrs. Powell’s 5th grade class at Laurelhurst School in Portland, Oregon. AND IT UTTERLY ROCKS.

The Esther Saulle Youth Recorder Ensemble kicks off the video in great period style with their rendition of “A Gift to Be Simple.” And such a funny, smart script! All the actors were outstanding, especially the girl who plays the heroine Kit. The mustaches for the boys cracked me up. And lots of great crowd scenes, especially the climactic set piece when a mob gathers to burn down Hannah’s house!

There’s countless very funny bits in here. I especially like how all the romantic subplots are dealt with in a lightning-quick sequence of declarations. The costumes, the ingenious economy of the storytelling, the cinematography . . . this one’s got it all. Congratulations, Laurelhurst School! You’ve definitely raised the bar for future entries!

But that’s not all! Remember how we kicked off the 90-Second Newbery film festival with our version of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle? Well, get ready for Brentwood Elementary’s 4th grade’s version of A Wrinkle in Time, which gives mine a run for its money:

The narrator is so animated and funny. Actually, everyone turns in a great performance. I cracked up at Charles Wallace’s line “Seriously, you two, I am only five years old . . . I shall not tolerate such insolence as talking behind her back!” And the puppetry was really cool too―ambitious in the best sense―how many 4th-grade puppeteers emply three limbs at once? (The teacher wrote me, “the boy who did the puppets, Braedin, really wanted to find a way to do the three ladies single-handedly and that’s what he came up with and, since it was so creative, we all supported it.” So do I!)

And above are Meg and Calvin. I thought it was a great strategy to do precisely the scenes that weren’t covered in the Wrinkle in Time 90-Second Newbery that I posted (the Happy Medium, Charles Wallace turning “evil,” etc.). The two films make perfect companion pieces. I also thought the narrator’s poem at the end was very clever. A TRIUMPH, Brentwood Elementary!

I feel so lucky to get to see all of the ingenuity that’s pouring forth from people all over the country for the 90-Second Newbery festival. I have even more films to share, but as I said before, it might be a little while before I post them, because Heather and I expect to go to the hospital for baby #2 any day now. Thanks, everyone, for entering―and I hope to see even more!