Three years ago, James Kennedy, author of The Order of Odd-Fish launched a great idea to get kids reading! He challenged them to select a Newbery honor or award-winning book and turn the entire book into a 90-second video. Now, three years later, his kids’ film festival is so popular that it has become a program sponsored by KidLitFoundation, and James will be holding six screenings at various locations across the United States. The closest to Rochester will be held in New York City on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the New York Public Library.
At RCTV, we had the good fortune to get to know James when he came to Rochester in November 2012 for a screening of the five submissions from the Rochester area, including two from the RCTV/Writers & Books Camp. One of those submissions, My Father’s Dragon, is now listed among the 25 most successful submissions from among hundreds! While he was here for the 2nd Annual Newbery Film Festival, we also had a chance to do an interview with him where he shared what it’s like to be a writer in the 21st Century. During this year’s RCTV/Writers & Books Summer Camp, both the younger and older group of kids created submissions that have been entered in this year’s Festival. The camp was run by RCTV’s Joshua Bloodworth and by Beth Lane who taught media production and literacy to the kids and guided them in creating their work. What is interesting about the videos that follow is that it is really the kids who decide what elements of the plot to incorporate and how the story will be told. They then write the script, gather the costumes, decide on sets, etc. They get a little help from the adults on the editing, since there’s so much to do in one short week.
Below is Ella Enchanted, the 90-Second Newbery submission created by the 9-12 year old group who chose to turn it into an “Almost-Musical.”
The 13-15 year-old group chose a book with a more somber theme, Our Only May Amelia, and gave it an unexpected twist with a little stand-up comedy!
And just in case you wonder if the kids enjoy this adventure, check out the short documentary created by Madison Ross, a youth volunteer at the camp. Madison received an award at RCTV’s Annual Meeting for her invaluable assistance with the camp, and for her work on this documentary.
Another 90-Second Newbery submission from the Rochester area, overseen by RCTV’s Carol White Llewellyn, is the submission Shen of the Sea. A group of students from Spencerport Central School chose this 1926 Newbery winner, a book of Chinese folk tales, in tribute to the heritage of four members of the group. In case you’re wondering, yes, that is authentic Chinese being spoken.
If you know some young people who would be interested in contributing to the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, the deadline for this year’s festival has been extended to January 20. If they’d like to participate next year, be sure to watch for the 2014 Writers & Books summer schedule of youth programs!