Press Release: The Second Annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival

Mr. Colby Sharp and I are reading all the Newbery Medal winners, and author Mr. James Kennedy is encouraging young filmmakers to create movies that tell the entire story of a Newbery award-winning book in 90 seconds or less. James recently announced details about the second annual 90-Second Newbery Festival.

We've received hundreds of entries from all over the world, in a dizzying variety of styles -- from Grace Lin's 2010 Honor Book Where The Mountain Meets the Moon done with shadow puppets,, to William Pene du Bois' 1948 Medal Winner The 21 Balloons done as a full-scale musical!

The festival is founded and organized by James Kennedy (author of the YA fantasy The Order of Odd-Fish), and it screens annually in New York City, Chicago, Portland, Tacoma, and other cities.

Here's a recap of this year's screening in New York, co-hosted by Kennedy and Jon Scieszka, with special guests Newbery winners Kate DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux), Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer), and Margi Preus (Heart of a Samurai) as well as author-illustrators Dan Yaccarino and Brian Floca. Worth checking out if you want to see Jon Scieszka sing, or arm-wrestle with Kate DiCamillo . . .

Here's a recap of this year's screening in Chicago, co-hosted by Kennedy and Blue Balliett (Chasing Vermeer). Here you can see the questions and answers of our audience participatory game show, "The Dark Side of the Newbery," in which unsavory truths of Newbery winners come to light . . .
The film festival typically screens for free at the main branch of the city's public library. We've had sold-out shows right from the start, with crowds of hundreds turning out, including the young filmmakers themselves -- who in some cases, get to meet in person the author who wrote the book they filmed!

Here are just a few of the standouts of this year's films. For instance, a hilarious live-action puppet reenactment of "Dragons and Giants" from Arnold Lobel's 1973 Honor Book Frog and Toad Together, as adapted by Aaron Zenz and family:

A bonkers Claymation (!!) sprint through the very first Newbery winner, The Story of Mankind (Hendrik Willem van Loon, 1922 Medal) by Max and Jennings of Tacoma, WA:

An Akira-Kurosawa-inspired, all-Japanese-language, subtitled version of Heart of a Samurai (Margi Preus, 2011 Honor Book) by Burley Elementary School of Chicago, IL:

An ingeniously resourceful one-man-show of The Giver (Lois Lowry, 1994 Medal) by Leo Lion of Brooklyn, NY:

An elaborate musical of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Robert C. O'Brien, 1972 Medal) by Elephant and Worm Theater Company of Chicago:

One of the most interesting things about curating this film festival is seeing different ways various groups approach the same material. Here's another Frog and Toad Together, but this time interpreted as a Wes-Anderson-style / French ye-ye music video by Sara Truscott of Tacoma, W:

You can find complete info on the 90-Second Newbery at their main website.  


  1. We were finally able to attend one of the 90 Second Newbery screenings recently. SO - MUCH - FUN! If you are ever able to attend one, do so, do so!


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