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The Order of Oddfish


The AWE and EXALTATION of the 2024 Ogden, UT 90-Second Newbery Film Festival!

February 21, 2024

The 13th season of the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival continued with our second show at the Treehouse Museum in Ogden, Utah this past Saturday! I am so thankful to Lynne Goodwin, Rob Goodwin, Wes Whitby, Caden Ware, and everyone at the Treehouse for bringing our screening back to their venue yet again. And of course, big props to Keir Graff (author of Minerva Keen’s Detective Club of many other great books for kids and adults) for being such a brilliant co-host.

Since our audience is younger at the Treehouse, we did a less satirical opening skit than we did at the Brooklyn screening the week before. Keir and I wrote this one backstage an hour before the performance, specially-tailored for our Ogden audience. Check it out above!

Here’s are Keir and me with some of the young filmmakers onstage after the show, and in the audience with the crowd:

We showed a lot of great movies at the screening, but in this post I want to concentrate on the three movies that were made right at the Treehouse at a weeklong 90-Second Newbery workshop I taught last summer with the help of Treehouse staff, especially Caden Ware.

This first one is based on Kate Dicamillo’s 2014 Newbery Medal Winner Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures . . . but retold in the style of Star Wars! Flora is Rey, her mother is Emperor Palpatine, the dad is Kylo Ren, and Rey saves Ulysses the squirrel by making him into a half-droid—and then the squirrel starts to get the power of the Force.

All the actors turned in fantastic performances, and I loved their energy in the light saber battles. Read the complete write-up about this movie on the 90-Second Newbery website.

The next movie is based on Richard and Florence Atwater’s 1939 Newbery Honor Book Mr. Popper’s Penguins. It’s done in the style of a Batman movie, in which Mr. Popper is secretly the superhero “Penguin Man.” Here, Penguin Man comes into the possession of a self-duplicating penguin: a penguin that can clone itself! Penguin Man and the cloning penguin fight crime together, and together they defeat the villain “the Laughing Seal,” a scientist who had drank a chemical that turned them into half-seal who needs to devour penguins to live.

I love how this movie mixes the styles of both the 1990s Tim Burton Batman and the 1960s Adam West Batman:

And here’s what the judges had to say on the 90-Second Newbery website.

The third movie we made was based on Christina Soontornvat’s 2021 Newbery Honor Book A Wish in the Dark. In the book’s original Thai-inspired fantasy world, the city of Chattana is ravaged by the Great Fire, plunging it into darkness. The fire is stopped by someone called the Governor—a magical, power-obsessed leader who goes on to outlaw fire. The city’s only sources of light and power are magical glowing orbs that only the Governor can create. The book’s hero is Pong, a nine-year-old boy who escapes the prison where he was born. He wants to live freely in Chattana, but he is pursued by Nok, the prison warden’s daughter who wants to bring him back to prison. However, they eventually make friends and join forces with others to bring down the evil magical Governor.

This movie tells the story in the style of the movie The Wizard of Oz. The Governor is the Wicked Witch of the West, Pong is Dorothy, and . . . well, just watch!

This movie resourcefully used the sets and costumes at the Treehouse, and there was good cinematography and acting too! You can read the write-up of this movie on the 90-Second Newbery website.

And those were the local movies of the Ogden 90-Second Newbery Film Festival! And I will be teaching another weeklong “Making a 90-Second Newbery” workshop at the Treehouse in July. I believe Keir will be teaching a writing workshop too. I’m looking forward to returning to Ogden soon and seeing all my friends again. And remember, it’s not too early to start working on your movies for next year!

The 90-Second Newbery relies on private donations to keep going! It’s only through your generosity that we can continue bringing our free public screenings and book-to-movie workshops to libraries and schools nationwide. You can make your (tax-deductible!) donation here. Donations are handled through our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.