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The Order of Oddfish


90-Second Newbery Films From Ms. Ott’s Class, 2015

For the fourth annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in 2015 (see here for a recap of the evening), I received a number of great videos from Ms. Ott’s class in Highland Park, Illinois. I decided to highlight them all here on their own special page. Let’s check them out, they’re fantastic! I hope Ms. Ott’s class does 90-Second Newbery videos every year!

Sadly, three-time Newbery Honor winner Zilpha Keatley Snyder passed away last year, but her memory is honored with Evan and friends’ adaptation of her 1968 Honor Book The Egypt Game:

I love this book. I don’t often see adaptations of it for the film festival, so this film was on my good side right from the beginning! There’s a lot to like here, especially the 100% commitment to April’s glamorous style (that wig! those eyelashes!). The older gentleman who played the shop owner was great, and I LOVED LOVED LOVED the horror music and extreme closeup every time he shows up. Evan and friends did a good job showing the Egypt Game ritual itself, complete with the appropriate costumes and accoutrements. Very resourceful! Also clever use of the newspaper for exposition, and of course the final exchange of dialogue at the end is hilarious. Great job!

Next up, Cynthia Lord’s 2007 Honor Book Rules, as adapted by Sydney and Marianna:

Rules is about a sister dealing with a sometimes-difficult autistic younger brother, which can be difficult to pull off in a snappy 90-Second Newbery. But Sydney and Marianna handled the sensitive material of the book with grace, tact, and of course admirable speed! The rapid-fire voiceover quickly made the premise clear. Good switch to black and white for flashback. The pants-pulling-down scene was funny without being, er, obscene. Great work!

Next up: Jordana, Jordyn, and Stephanie’s adaptation of E.L. Konigsburg’s 1968 Medal Winner From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler:

Another story told with admirable swiftness and efficiency! Great energetic and committed acting . . . I liked the excitability of Claudia, the terse phlegmatic manner of Jamie, and the upper-crusty accent of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler herself! Resourceful use of the angel statue in the front yard, and I liked the news flash with its music giving the necessary exposition as quickly as possible. (And I love how Mrs. Frankweiler apparently writes entirely in squiggles!)

Next: Kevin and Mason’s adaptation of Steve Sheinkin’s 2013 Honor Book Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon:

This one gets off to a roaring start, showing the neutron splitting apart over the title! I thought the claymation atom-splitting was excellent, especially in how they identified each particle—one can actually learn a scientific thing or two from this video! The Lego stop-motion was resourceful and fun too, and I loved the ridiculous accents. (I was particularly amused at how as soon as those two dudes said “Otto Hahn discovered fission”… they immediately vanished!) Ambitious mushroom cloud at the end, though I’m sad at what it represents.

Next up: Kyle and friends’ adaptation of William H. Armstrong’s 1970 Newbery Medal Winner Sounder:

90-Second Newbery? After subtracting the opening titles and credits, that was more like a 60-second Newbery. Well-compressed! Many things to love here. I love the ridiculous outfit with the fur cap. The dog played a dead Sounder very well. The Star Wars titles were a nice way to get exposition across. I liked the “SQUIRREL!” shout a la UP and that “hog” catching was admirably insane. And of course the exchange of, “He’s not sleeping, he’s dead!” “NOOOOOO!” was the perfect way to end the movie!

Next up is Holden & Spencer’s adaptation of Katherine Applegate’s 2013 Medal Winner The One and Only Ivan:

Ingenious to do it all in paper cutouts! That kept my interest throughout the accelerated storytelling. I like how calmly and smoothly the whole story is laid out here, even including sound effects for the flashback!

We’re in the home stretch now! Here is Benjamin and friends’ adaptation of The One and Only Ivan:

Good gorilla voiceover tied it all together.The gorilla costume was well-done and the elephant costume was both resourceful and kind of terrifying! I appreciated the energetic acting throughout, especially the delivery of the line, “They don’t have to like me, they just have to respect me!”

And finally, Miranda, Maya, and Isabella’s adaptation of Rebecca Stead’s 2010 Newbery Medal winner When You Reach Me:

I appreciate how ambitious they were to get ALMOST ALL the subplots stuffed into one super-short movie. I liked the enterprising sets and casting, and the gusty acting. Well done!

Great job, everyone in Ms. Ott’s class! I hope you make 90-Second Newberys next year, too. See you in 2016!