The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival

There was some serious book love at Central Library for the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival.

The brainchild of author James Kennedy, this event showcased video adaptations of Newbery winner and honor books. It’s great to have kids read these award winners and interpret them in fun and interesting (and condensed!) ways.

I didn’t expect such a large turn-out for this event! The line to get in was crazy long, even half an hour before it was set to start. The line stretched outside and down the stairs, full of excited people- families, educators, librarians, participants, and interested parties like myself. Luckily, it was an unusually nice and dry Saturday afternoon in Portland.

We each got fresh popped popcorn as we stepped into the very crowded viewing room. There was even an overflow room to hold all the other people. A circus act performer helped entertain the kids before the actual show.

To start things off, Central Library’s own Joel Kraft sang a song he wrote about the Newbery. It was surprisingly good and got the audience to sing along during the chorus.

Along with James Kennedy, pink-haired local author Laini Taylor was there to co-host the event. They worked well with other. For example, as a way of introducing him, she “revealed” his fear of librarians, of which there were plenty in attendance. (And, later on, she would show a video of him tackling Neil Gaiman for the Newbery.) Then, it was on with the show!

I believe the first video ever made for the 90-second Newbery Film Festival was this one for “A Wrinkle in Time.” It’s quite brilliant and hilarious!

You can check other videos on James Kennedy’s website. I was impressed by how creative people got with their entries. There were skits, musicals, animation, shadow puppets, clay, papier-mâché, original music, Lego’s, and practically anything that can be used to tell a story.

There were some local talents representing, including teen councils from Troutdale and North Portland, both doing different interpretations of “The Giver.” This served as a perfect segue to a rather awkward portion of the screening- of compiled footage of the baby-killing scene from various entries, accompanied by jaunty music.

Fortunately, most of the show was enjoyable- including a “Snooki or Newbery?” segment in which the hosts read lines and we had to guess if it was from Snooki’s “A Shore Thing” or a Newbery book. It’s not as easy as you would think! This was, of course, in reference to “The Today Show Scandal.

Another game show moment- after watching a couple videos for “When You Reach Me”- had (local author) Dale Basye play a Newbery version of the $20,000 Pyramid with a librarian who got all the answers right! A teen rock band also played a couple songs.

The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival was definitely a great event – and I’m glad it’s going to be an annual event. Kudos to everyone who made this all possible, including the Library Foundation!

Original post can be found at “The Chronicles of a Children’s Book Writer“- my other blog about children’s literature and my journey in becoming a writer.

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