Monday, October 31, 2011

Lessons from Lily: An Interview With Bigger Than a Breadbox Book Trailer Creator

Lots of my thinking lately has been around digital reading and digital writing. I want to make sure that no matter what we do with digital  writing, that I stay true to what I know about writing process. I want more of the learning and teaching to be about writing and being a writer/creator.    One piece that I think is important is the idea of mentor "texts" in writing.  I think writers and creators find their inspiration in so many places and kids need to "read" lots of whatever it is they are going to "write". With digital pieces, these mentor texts are a  little bit more difficult to find.  One amazing new book trailer out there is the one below for BIGGER THAN A BREADBOX by Laurel Snyder. (An amazing middle grade novel!) This trailer was done by Lily, a 7th grader.   I have been working with some kids on creating book trailers and put this into my YouTube playlist of book trailers that we can study. I want my students to know about the many decisions that go into digital creations and that these decisions all have an impact on the piece. I want them to know all that is possible in creating book trailers.

As I've watched this trailer over and over with different groups of students, I can't help but continue to be amazed by so much here.  This is a brilliant trailer, from both a literacy perspective and a technology perspective.  Lily has such a deep understanding of the book and she conveys it so well.  

I had so many questions for Lily about her process--I knew that I could learn from her about authentic book trailer creation. So, I asked her some questions about the trailer that have already helped me rethink my work with students. (I think so often we worry about "teaching" all of the technology that goes into a project like this but Lily's answer to my question about her biggest challenge reminded me that the tech is not as big of a deal for kids as it is for us!)    If students are going to create trailers, I want the process to help them understand the book more deeply. My goal is to keep any creation work authentic and learning from Lily has helped me understand this process much better. 

Thanks, Lily!  I can't wait to see what other videos she creates!!

FRANKI:  What made you decide to create a book trailer for Bigger Than a Breadbox?  Is this the only trailer you've created?

LILY:  This was the only book trailer I have made, but not the first video. I made the trailer for Bigger Than a Breadbox, basically when my mom told me that Laurel wanted one. I had already made a music video for the They Might Be Giants song, "Can't Keep Johnny Down". My mom is friends with Laurel, so when she saw my video, she asked if I would make her one. 

FRANKI:  Your trailer is unique.  Where did you get your inspiration for the book trailer?  Was there a movie or trailer you saw that gave you the idea to create it in this way? 

LILY:  I was inspired by the book trailer Maggie Stiefvater made with the paper craft. When I first got into stop motion animation, I thought I wanted to make it like a flip book, where I drew all of the clips. But then I remembered that I had 20 pounds of artsy paper under my desk, and figured that it would end up looking much cooler that way. 

FRANKI:  You made quite a few decisions in the process of creating this video trailer. Can you talk about some of the decisions you made as you created. (such as how did you decide not to use words/talking in the trailer? How did you decide on the music--what significance does it have? why did you decide to show the specific scenes like you did?) Any specific decisions you made and the reasons you made them?

LILY:  I  didn't add talking into the trailer because I wanted to make it seem like the book was coming to life, and I didn't want to limit the reader's imagination. Giving the characters only speech bubbles let the viewer imagine the character's voice, the same way you would when reading the book. When choosing the music, I had to decide between two songs. One gave the trailer a warm, uplifting feel. The other one, (the one I used) gave the trailer a more creepy feel. I picked the creepy song, because the book is mainly about a box that stole things. That's pretty creepy.  I picked the scenes, because I wanted to basically make the following points: Her life used to be great, her parents started talking about getting a divorce, she left her dad for Atlanta, she's staying in Atlanta, she finds a the breadbox, and the breadbox only works when the thing you wish for would fit inside it. 

FRANKI:  You ended the trailer with a powerful statement about consequences. Can you talk a little bit about that decision and why you chose that as an ending?

LILY: I guess it was because it really summed up the feeling of the book. It helped with the whole creepy feel, and it was meant to really draw in the audience.

FRANKI:  I imagine you learned a lot about the book and came to a deeper understanding about the book in general by creating the trailer. Is there anything you understand about the book now that you didn't understand before you created the trailer?

LILY: I did become more connected with the characters in making a trailer. When I was reading, it was like I was listening to Rebeca talking to me, but while I created the trailer, It was more so like I was actually Rebeca.  Also, creating the trailer gave me a personal connection with the book. Whenever I see it, I think, "Wow, That's MY book!"                                                                                                                                                                                                   

FRANKI:  Can you talk a little bit about the technology needs--what technology did you use to create the trailer?  

LILY:  All I needed was a digital camera and my Mom's laptop for editing.

FRANKI:  What was the biggest challenge for you in creating the trailer?

LILY:  Definitely cleaning my room up after wards, and trying to keep my paper figures from tearing up the book. I also had a hard time with the part where I unfolded the map and finding ways to prop up my figures.

FRANKI:  What are you most proud of when you watch the trailer you created?

LILY:  I really love the part when I have to box shaking, and when the seagulls came out. I love that seagull...

FRANKI:  What advice do you have for others who are creating book trailers?

LILY:  Read, and re-read. Highlight all of the parts you might want to include, and always plan ahead. Also, you need to love the book. If you don't love the book, why bother creating a trailer?


  1. Blows my mind that Bread Box trailer was created by a MG reader.

    Great interview!

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. Would you mind if I showed this to my class when the time comes? This is such a great example of empowering our kids - first with a fabulous book, and then with the freedom to explore ways to make their thinking visible. Thanks so much for sharing this!!!


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