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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery: The Graveyard Book and Hoot

October 23, 2012

Rochester, New York has found a special place in my heart. I’ve spoken twice at its justly-famous Teen Book Festival (run by the miraculous Stephanie Squicciarini), did a fun interview with Rochesterite-become-friend Dina Strasser on her blog, and made quite a few other friends from there too, including one Debra Ross, who put together this free guide to making a 90-Second Newbery movie (and whose daughters made gave an excellent 90-Second Newbery treatment of Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard).

Now I am proud to feature two more top-notch 90-Second Newbery movies from Rochester! These two are by Justine, Aubrey, Danielle, Emily S., Emily H., Rachel, Nicole, and Jake. The first, above, is of Neil Gaiman’s classic Newbery Medal winner The Graveyard Book. Now of course we all know that Neil Gaiman and I have had our differences over the Newbery, but recall that we did have a public reconciliation in which I sang him Katy Perry’s “Firework” in front of about 1000 people, so I think it’s safe to say it’s all water under the bridge now.

As for this version of Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book, what a stunner! It starts with a suitably gruesome murder scene and even uses fun hand-drawn animation to do ghosts. I like the touch of the “Goshgarian” gravestone in the background—that’s a name I’ve got to use in some future book. The accents are quite amusing and I liked the careful attention to detail: when Mrs. Lupescu starts speaking in that Charlie Brown “bwa bwa bwa bwa” adult-nonsense voice, and using the chicken dance for the “Danse Macabre” scene, and the offhanded display of the bowl of “what’s left of” Mrs. Lupescu. The Sleer at the end is a pretty scary surprise, too! I’m looking forward to showing this great version at the screenings!

The same group also did a 90-Second Newbery version of Hoot by Carl Hiassen:

Another winner! It was a nice touch to use the stuffed owl as a narrator. Just like The Graveyard Book, it starts with compelling violence. This movie also features the happiest, most gleeful confession of vandalism. Good use of the Law and Order “bonk-bonk” sound. I also like the way some characters underplay their roles: the guard dog, for instance, seems decidedly unimpressed by the fearsome snakes waved in his face. There’s an odd nod to My Little Pony in one scene—is there actually a My Little Pony reference in the book, or is this a sly sideways reference to bronies? There’s a scene in which someone gets mooned, but don’t worry, according to the credits, “no derrieres were actually exposed nor animals mistreated in the making of this film.” A relief! But that means they had to actually invest in a fake butt? I wonder how many times Spielberg had to do that? Who are we kidding, he probably has a warehouse full of them.

Great work, Rochester! I’m looking forward to meeting you in person when I come to your town in late November!