If you haven’t yet checked out some of the entries for James Kennedy’s 90 Second Newbery film festival, then head on over. Monica Edinger and Besty Bird also offer reviews of the event held this weekend in NYC.
I find these clips great examples of why it’s so important to have different kinds of literature represented in the Newbery “canon.” Some of these kids clearly enjoyed the book they’re dramatizing, and some….clearly didn’t. But they did clearly have fun being on camera, and depicting a book in 90 seconds.
Some of my favorite memories of Newbery books have to do with the way the book IS. The distinctive design in The Westing Game (it was designed by the author…this was her other line of business) is what I think of first when I think of that book. The trim size of The Dark is Rising sets me a shiver…so much so that nearly any book of that trim size makes me feel like I am a teenager on Midwinter’s Eve, standing in a churchyard. And the Caldecott-honored illustrations in the Newbery Medal winning A Visit to William Blake’s Inn to me truly ARE the words personified…and since they are of the same family as my own childhood copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses, Nancy Willard’s wonderful words evoke Stevenson for me as well as Blake.
A few summers ago we tried a “chapter a day” reading of The Tale of Despereaux at my library. One very young boy sat every day in his Grandfather’s lap, listening…though not watching the reader. He would draw while he listened. Here’s a picture he gave me, after chapters 4 through 7. The king’s guitar is a little lost in the scanner fade…but I love the way that the princess isn’t watching the king (as the boy is not watching his reader)…she’s smiling at Despereaux, and patting him on the head. The arrows, the boy explained to me, show how Despereaux came and went….so the picture actually encapsulates an entire narrative. I keep it at my desk, and it feeds me every day.