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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery, Music Edition: Charlotte’s Web, Despereaux and The Black Cauldron

January 14, 2014

I always love it when 90-Second Newbery videos I receive use music to tell the story! After all, you can cram a lot of plot into those lyrics, and music makes a video zip right along.

Who better to make use of music than those undefeated 90-Second Newbery champs, the Bookie Woogie blog, a.k.a. the family of crackerjack children’s book creator Aaron Zenz, who in the past have given us a shadow-puppet version of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, a bonkers animation of The Black Cauldron, and an incredible all-puppet adaptation of Frog and Toad Together?

Above, check out their latest ringer! I’ll let Aaron describe it: “Charlotte’s Web won a Newbery Honor in 1952. Ten years later, Spider-Man made his first appearance. Hey… why not bring the two legendary spiders together? Why not re-imagine the Charlotte characters as costumed heroes and villains in the opening credits of an imaginary TV show?”

Yes, yes, and YES! They’ve rewritten the lyrics to the famous Spider-Man theme song to tell the story of Charlotte’s Web, and the result is manic, joyous, action-packed, and makes me wish I was five years old and in the Zenz family. Fantastic job! To learn even more about how they made it, visit the Bookie Woogie blog’s post about it here.

But that’s not the only 90-Second Newbery movie with music! Check out this entry from the teen advisory board of the Cherokee County Public Library in Gaffney, South Carolina. It’s a retelling of Kate DiCamillo’s 2004 Medal winner The Tale of Despereaux, but in the style of the opening credits of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air!

Brilliant job! Would you believe that this is the first 90-Second Newbery I’ve received that was delivered as a rap? It’s a great idea to do it that way—rap allows you to convey a lot of ideas in a short time—and the group really nailed it, from the tight writing to Alyssa’s smooth delivery. Extra points for resourceful use of the green screen. Also, the signs identifying the characters really helped, especially with a large cast like this.

Our last video today is by Allanah, who was one of my students in my 90-Second Newbery class at the Center for Talent Development over last summer. She, too, decided to take an existing song and rewrite it to tell the story of a Newbery book. In this case, the book is Lloyd Alexander’s 1966 Honor book The Black Cauldron, and the song is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us”:

Allanah did an impressive job of fitting the entire complicated plot of The Black Cauldron into the song, and really sold it with her committed, energetic performance here!

Thanks, everyone! Remember, the deadline for submissions to the 90-Second Newbery is coming up (January 20!). And check out where we’re screening the film festival in the event bar to the right: Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, Tacoma, and New York City!