Friday, February 15, 2013

The 90-Second Newbery

Hey parents, teachers, librarians, and actual middle grade aged readers of this blog (a.k.a kids)--have I got a great project for you!

Ever heard of the Newbery award? I thought so. It's when everybody interested in books for kids blows horns, bangs drums, and jumps on the bed to show their love for the very best kids' books of the year. This year the great big winner was THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, which is gorilly great!

2013 Newbery Award winner, The One and Only Ivan

Well, once the winners and the honor books are announced, there's something sweet and special and awesomely creative you can do. Grab your friends and a video camera and condense your all-time favorite Newbery book (winner or honor) into ninety seconds. Sound like a challenge? You betcha.

Now, I wish I'd been the originator of this great idea, but I wasn't. That honor goes to the zany James Kennedy, the author of THE ORDER OF ODD-FISH, which Cory Doctorow has called "an extraordinary and delightfully weird romp that’s one part China Mieville, one part Lemony Snicket, with trace amounts of Madeline L’Engle and Roald Dahl." (Since pretty much all of those mentioned are my favorite authors, it goes without saying that I am currently speeding my way to Powell's bookstore to snap up a copy.)

But I digress. Here are the rules for the 90-second Newbery, from the pen of Mr. Kennedy himself.

1. Your video should be 90 seconds or less. (Okay, okay: if it’s two minutes long but absolute genius, we’ll bend the rules for you. But let’s try to keep them short.)

2. Your video has to be about a Newbery award-winning (or Newbery honor-winning) book. Here’s a list of all the winners.

3. Just to be clear: we’re not looking for book trailers. We’re looking for full-on dramatizations, with mostly child actors, that manage to tell the entire story of a book in an ridiculously short amount of time.

4. Upload your videos to YouTube or Vimeo or whatever and send me the link at kennedyjames [at] gmail [dot] com. Make the subject line be “90 SECOND NEWBERY” and please tell me your name, age, where you’re from, and whatever other comments you’d like to include, including whether you’d like me to link to your personal site. You can give an alias if you want; I understand privacy concerns.

5. Sending the link to me grants me (James Kennedy) the right to post it on my blog and to other websites where I sometimes post content (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and to share at public readings, school visits—and hopefully the “90-Second Newbery” Film Festival screenings!

6. The deadline for the second annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is December 10, 2013 

The winners are shown in Chicago, New York, Portland and Tacoma. The Portland showing is on Sunday February 24th, 2013. If you want to meet me, I'll be there, as my son and his friends entered the festival with their version of THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, which you can view on my Middle Grade Mafioso blog if you're curious and have time on your hands.

And here's a guide on how to plan and film your entry: 

Newbery Film.

I'll leave you with one of the videos featured on James Kennedy's blog, the Aurora Public Library Eola Road Branch, entry for 90 Second Newbery film festival. A silent film adaptation of Crispin: Cross of Lead by Avi.


  1. What a fun idea~ thanks for sharing! Oh, and I own and love The Order of Odd-Fish :)

  2. Thanks, Jess~~

    I am really intrigued by THE ORDER OF ODD-FISH, as well as excited to attend the screening of the 90-second Newberys next week.

  3. You had me at Powells Books! One of the great bookstores on the planet. And I want to check out The Order of Odd-Fish, too! THANKS, Mike!

    1. I am so fortunate to live in a city with so many good indies, including Powell's--one of the modern wonders of the world. I could get lost in there for days!

  4. Tacoma of all places? Interesting.

    1. I hope to ask Mr. Kennedy next week why he chose to show the entries in Tacoma.

    2. Well, don't get me wrong, parts of Tacoma are beautiful, but we Seattleites tend to pooh-pooh the Tacoma Aroma.

      Anyway, all kidding aside, this sounds like a really awesome idea.

    3. Tacoma needs more culture, so I love this! (From an alum of PLU in Tacoma, and Michael G-G's English major and writer wife) :)

  5. I don't know enough kids to enter, but sounds like good times:)

  6. Hello, this is James Kennedy! Thanks so much for getting the word out about the 90-Second Newbery, and I'm happy to hear you're interested in The Order of Odd-Fish (and Jess, I'm so glad you like my book!)

    To answer Matthew MacNish, the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival screens not only in Tacoma, but also annually in New York City, Chicago, and Portland (click for recaps from last year's screenings in those cities). I'm working on expanding to other cities, too!

    It was through Tacoma super-librarian Kristy Gale that a Tacoma screening came to be -- I'm doing it the same weekend I'm doing the Portland screening. I'm so glad I hooked up with the Tacoma folks -- Kristy really got the word out, and I received so many fantastic entries from Tacoma!

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!