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The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival—an annual celebration of kids’ creativity in which young filmmakers create short movies telling the entire stories of Newbery Medal and Newbery Honor books in roughly 90 seconds—is now open for submissions for its seventh year. The deadline for entries is January 12, 2018.

The film festival was founded by children’s author James Kennedy (The Order of Odd-Fish) and screens every year to packed houses at libraries and theaters in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Portland, Minneapolis, San Antonio, and other cities.

For the first time, the 90-Second Newbery will also be holding screenings in Ogden and Salt Lake City on February 23 and 24, 2018. The program is in partnership with Utah Humanities, the Utah Film Center, the Salt Lake City Public Library, and Spy Hop.

Ever since 1922, the American Library Association’s Newbery Medal has been recognized as the most prestigious award in children’s literature. Honorees include Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Louis Sachar’s Holes, and Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. But according to Kennedy, “it turns out that any book, no matter how worthy and somber, becomes hilarious when it’s compressed to only 90 seconds.”

The goal, says Kennedy, is not for kids to create mere book trailers or video book reports. The challenge is to compress the entire plot of the book in under two minutes, often with a transformative twist. Past entries include Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and Her Father done in the style of a James Bond movie and E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web reimagined as a horror movie. Kids use many other styles as well, including claymation, puppet shows, musicals, silent films, and Minecraft. Filmmakers may adapt any Medal– or Honor–winning book. Participants should be under 21, but help from enthusiastic adults is allowed.

For the past six years, the best 90-Second Newbery movies have been shown at special-event screenings at venues such as the New York Public Library, San Francisco Public Library, Minneapolis Public Library, and elsewhere. These screenings are co-hosted by Kennedy and other award-winning and bestselling children’s authors such as Jon Scieszka, Kate DiCamillo, M.T. Anderson, and many more. James will be joined at the Utah screenings by author Keir Graff (The Matchstick Castle). Graff, the Executive Editor of Booklist, is a frequent 90-Second Newbery co-host and collaborator.

More details may be found at The website features many of the videos received throughout the last six years, as well as further resources for teachers and filmmakers. To receive more information, or to schedule an interview with James Kennedy, email him at

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