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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery: Savvy and Hoot

November 9, 2012

Am I happy that Obama won? Yes I am, just like last time. More good news close to home: the abhorrent Tea-Party mayor who has been busy dismantling my hometown of Troy, Michigan (and emitting homophobic slurs) has been successfully recalled. For some reason Troy went bonkers the past year or two. They were even going to close the public library, for crying out loud. The library! What is wrong with people? (Full disclosure: I am married to a librarian and I am a writer. Also, full disclosure, libraries are awesome.)

Speaking of librarians, one of my favorite librarians is a certain Angela Newman in Tredyffrin, Pennsylvania. Last year, for our 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, her library filmed Holes. It was great, but Angela and the Tredyffrin kids upped their game 1000% this year. Check it out above: Ingrid Law’s 2009 Honor Book Savvy (one of my favorite Newbery winners, by the way), but with a twist: it’s done as a horror movie, The Ink That Screamed! Scroll back up and check it out now!

In the family in Savvy, everyone gets their special power, or “savvy,” when they turn 13. Mibs’ father goes into a coma, and she hopes that her savvy is to jolt folks out of comas, but in fact her secret power is the ability to listen to the voices of tattoos, or indeed any ink on a person’s skin, which will express an emotional truth the person isn’t necessarily saying. Mibs and her friends stow away on a Bible-delivery bus and have adventures on their way to visit their dad at the hospital.

For Angela’s film, I love the adroit use of the horror music, especially the slowly rising creepy tone, plus the dramatic pull-ins and closeups, and deliciously enough, how the hospital gown is clearly labeled “hospital gown.” When the father wakes up at the end and grabs Mibs and she screams, it’s a great deployment of the trope! Brilliant job, Tredyffrin!

I want to see this approach more in the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival: filming Newbery stories in genres and styles that are totally foreign to the original book. There is a certain jouissance to such an approach, is there not? There is a jouissance, I assert and maintain there is a very definite jouissance. So then: who’s going to create a sci-fi Hatchet for me? Or a LOLcats version of Julie of the Wolves? Or Dr. Doolittle in the style of Dr. Who—that is to say, Dr. Wholittle? Get on this, Internet!

The director of today’s other video is another 90-Second Newbery veteran! This director is none other than Chloe Levine of Brooklyn Friends School, who directed last year’s Westing Game as well as an epic 9-minute Order of Odd-Fish infomercial.

Here’s Chloe and friend’s entry for this year’s 90-Second Newbery: a funny adaptation of Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot:

So many details to savor! I especially liked the performance of the owl, in particular how it hooted along at the end of “This Land Is Your Land.” I also really enjoyed the weirdly enthusiastic pancake lovers. I appreciated how Chloe used lots of different locations. The acting was solid (I especially liked the kid in glasses) and of course the outtakes were funny! Thanks, Chloe and friends!

I’m looking forward to seeing all of your at the New York screening of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival on December 2! (Wait, what’s the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival? All is explained here.