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The Order of Oddfish


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!