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Return of the 90-Second Newbery

Charlotte’s Web – HORROR STYLE from James Kennedy on Vimeo.

The 4th annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival may coming to a city near you.  You may want to get tickets and join the fun live at free, gala screening event.

James Kennedy, its charming organizer, master of ceremonies, and author of  The Order of Odd-Fish, describes each year’s entries as by turns ingenious, hilarious, and impressive.

As for this year’s entries?

This has been the best year so far!  There was a bumper crop of truly weird and wonderful entries that not only compressed the books into super-short videos, but also creatively messed around with genre: “Ramona and Her Father” done in the style of a James Bond movie, “Charlotte’s Web” done as a horror movie, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” done zombie style and lots of Claymation and stop-motion! They’re bonkers!

James suggested I share highlights of the entries:

A Claymation adaptation of 1939 Honor Book Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Made by an ambitious girl scout troop from Urbana, IL, this is resourceful and awesome!

A special effects extravaganza of 2009 Medal winner The Graveyard Book. All that green screen work! And how many kids did it take to operate that terrifying giant “Sleer” puppet?

“The Graveyard Book” 90-Second Newbery from James Kennedy on Vimeo.

A stop-motion version of 2013 Honor Book Bomb. Made by a lone teenager Jennings Mergenthal in Tacoma, WA, this is seriously impressive, funny, AND informative.

1987 Medal winner The Whipping Boy retold in all-question format. High schooler Madison Ross and her friends retell the adventure story in the style of a verbally dextrous, fast-paced theater game.

Here are the deets for reserving a seat for the live event:

  • Saturday, February 7, 2015 The Oakland, CA screening at the Rockridge branch of the Oakland Public Library (5366 College Ave., Oakland, CA). 12-1 pm. Reserve a seat.
  • Saturday, February 7, 2015 The San Francisco screening at the San Francisco Public Library main branch (100 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA). With co-host bestselling author Annie Barrows (Ivy and Bean). 4-5:30 pm. Reserve a seat.
  • Saturday, February 21, 2015 The Tacoma screening at the Tacoma Public Library (1102 Tacoma Avenue South, Tacoma, WA). 3-5 pm. Reserve a seat.
  • Sunday, February 22, 2015 The Portland area screening at the Troutdale Library branch (2451 SW Cherry Park Rd, Troutdale, OR). 5-6 pm. Reserve a seat.
  • Saturday, February 28, 2015 The Minneapolis  screening at the Minneapolis Central Library (300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN) in Pohlad Hall. With co-host Kelly Barnhill (The Witch’s Boy). 3-4:30 pm. Reserve a seat.
  • Saturday, March 7, 2015 The Manhattan screening at the New York Public Library (Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY), in the Bartos Forum. With co-host Ame Dyckman (Boy + Bot, Wolfie the Bunny). 3-5 pm. Reserve a seat.
  • Sunday, March 8, 2015 The Brooklyn screening at the Central Library of the Brooklyn Public Library (10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY) with co-host Peter Lerangis (The 39 Clues, the Seven Wonders series). In the Dweck Auditorium. 2-4 pm.

I am sharing the details for how to attend live and reserve a seat, but what’s really important is that these activities are a celebration of student work and the new communication options available to our kiddos.

This work demonstrates so many possibilities. Inspired by their reading, kids can play with genre and media conventions; explore professional directorial and production options; create fabulous, impressive original work for appreciative audiences.  I hope that these works will inspire local creativity around the Newbery and well beyond!


Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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