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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery: Glorious Hodgepodge Edition!

April 24, 2014

It’s been quiet on the blog as of late, since I’ve been doing a bit of traveling, a bit of school-visiting, a bit of book-writin’, a bit of ruminatin’, a bit of walkin’ the open road, searching for adventure—and yes, searching for a little thing I like to call “America” . . . Wait, what? I’ve just been lazy. That’s all.

In the meantime, while I’ve been away, here’s the LAST few stray entries for the third annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival that wrapped up just a few weeks ago . . . a few movies that, for no good reason, I haven’t featured on the blog yet. They’re good ones too, so let’s check out this glorious hodgepodge!

Chase Elementary in Chicago wowed us last year with their gross-out horror version of Jim Murphy’s American Plague. This year they chose to adapt Steve Sheinkin’s great 2013 Honor Book Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. Check out the result, above!

From the very first line (“I did it! I split the atom!”) I knew it was going to be good. The music was quite appropriate and I liked the dead-seriousness of the narrator, the Cold War dread, and the repeated motifs of the exchange of documents on staircases and the kids running up and down the halls. (Oh, and I liked especially the neologism in “scientists and spyentists”!)

Next up: any Doctor Who fans out there? I’m sure there are many. OK, any fans of the 1923 Newbery Medal winner The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting? At least a few. Well, Play Mechanics of Chicago wondered, how about combining the two . . . into DOCTOR WHO-LITTLE:

What a delirious sprint through the book! I loved the copious Dr. Who references (“bigger on the inside,” Daleks, the way everyone lurched as the TARDIS rocked from side to side) and the great Matt Smith style of the kid playing the Doctor. And for some reason my favorite part was when . . . the Doctor was very seriously listening to the lobster? All in all, a triumph!

Next up, the Kids Book Club at the Villa Park Library in the suburbs of Chicago did this great take on Richard Peck’s 2001 Medal winner, A Year Down Yonder:

The girl who played Grandma Dowdel nailed it, don’t you think it? I loved the down-home accent, the cantankerousness, the joy she put into the performance! “It’s all right! It’s a Burdick!” “Now go home! Git!” The other performances were great, too. “A Chicago girl? Playing the Virgin Mary!” “We are the D.A.R.” “I studied in Paris!” All very funny. And resourceful use of green screen!

Next up, Beverly Cleary’s 1978 Honor Book Ramona and Her Father by real-life father-daughter team Greg and Jill from Mundelein, IL:

Wonderful! Ramona and her Father is one of my favorite Beverly Cleary books. Not nearly enough people have done a 90-Second Newbery of it. It’s especially fitting that they two did it as a father-and-daughter project! The script was tight and kept the story flowing along smoothly. The pictures were spot-on and really served the story too. I especially appreciated how the script carefully tracked the ups and downs of Ramona and her father’s emotions. Well done!

Some Newbery winners are books of poetry. Hannah & Maegan Scheib from Indianapolis decided to do one of the poems from Joyce Sidman’s 2011 Honor Book Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, in which each poem is about a different nocturnal animal. The poem they chose was in the voice of an eft, which is a kind of newt:

Fantastic! Resourceful and ingenious use of the hot tub, and the romping in the field at night was quite funny (and I liked the acrobatic flip or handspring or whatever that was thrown in there)! Great voiceover reading of the poem too. Thanks, Hannah and Maegan and friends!

And with that, I believe I have covered most of the publicly available 90-Second Newberys I received for the third annual season. Thanks everyone who submitted! Remember, the deadline for the fourth annual 90-Second Newbery is December 20, 2014, so get cracking!