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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery: Three FOUR Pacific Northwest Frog and Toads!

February 7, 2013

The sold-out Chicago screening of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is this Sunday, February 10, at the Harold Washington Library! I visited co-host Blue Balliett‘s house today to work out our banter and our singing (!). Can’t make Chicago? We have screenings in Tacoma, WA (2/23) and Portland, OR (2/24) coming up! All details here.

Speaking of Tacoma, check out above this super-stylish, Wes-Anderson-esque 90-Second Newbery adaptation of Arnold Lobel’s 1973 Newbery Honor Book Frog And Toad Together, as done by Sara Truscott of Tacoma! Sara takes one of the vignettes from the book, “The List,” and makes an entire elegant, bewitching ye-ye music video around that. A brilliant stroke to make Frog and Toad young lovers. I loved all the little touches: the way she rings the doorbell, the way he answers the door, the flying-in-the-wind list special effect, “go to sleep” written out in flowers . . . this is great stuff!

UPDATE! Crazily enough, that’s not the only Frog and Toad Together adaptation I got from the Pacific Northwest! I have three more to share with you today. From Portland Community Media comes this masterful animated version of Frog and Toad Together—all five vignettes from the book, each one animated in a different style:

Wow, what a doozy this one is! Five different teams worked on animating this. “The List” is done as a silent movie with intertitles in a gentle, casual hand-drawn style. I liked the sunset effect in particular. “The Garden” was done as a three-dimensional cut-paper stop-motion movie—I loved the weird voices, the cotton clouds, and the “night” effect! The third, “Cookies,” uses sock puppets and a gorgeously elaborate set. I particularly liked Frog and Toad’s voices, the effect of going “through” the window, and the birds attacking the cookies! The fourth, “Dragons and Giants,” is an great Claymation that boasts a terrifyingly slithery snake and flying bird (I also like the totally stripped-down dialogue)! The last one, “The Dream,” is a slickly (computer?) animated, atmospheric piece that is just as dreamlike as the story. Tremendous job, Portland Community Media!

But wait, we’re not through yet! There’s also this very enjoyable Frog and Toad Together, by Jake Keister and Nikki Baldwin, which also covers all the vignettes in the book:

I love the breakneck pace at which the vignettes flash past, some in as few as 10 seconds! Now that’s compression! I especially liked the shot of Toad on the high wire above Frog. It’s all wittily done. Interestingly, Nikki and Jake use the same sort of dolls that Aaron Zenz and family used for their own breakout adaptation of Frog and Toad Together earlier this year.

Weird thing: last year I got only one Frog and Toad Together movie for the 90-Second Newbery. This year, tons! What gives? It’s a mystery! Here’s one final wonderful Frog and Toad Together adaptation for today, this time from Seaside Public Library in Seaside, Oregon:

What a great idea to do it as a silent black-and-white movie! And the music choice really made this shine, too. It’s impressive how much of the vignettes the folks from Seaside were able to get across just with movement and facial expressions. I especially liked how Frog was becoming “smaller” in the chair until Frog disappears in “The Dream.” Another winner!

I’m looking forward to seeing all you talented filmmakers at the upcoming screenings in Tacoma and Portland! Now: time to concentrate and get myself ready for this Sunday’s screening in Chicago!