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Thoughts, opinions, and ramblings about (broadly) children's literature from my perspectives as a writer, parent, and volunteer elementary school librarian. Oh yeah, and poetry of all sorts... with lots and lots of Fibs.
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Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 27
26. Poetry Re-Issue: Doughnuts! Oh, Doughnuts!

It's National Doughnut Day - a perfect time to re-issue this poem (originally posted in 2009).

Doughnuts! Oh, Doughnuts!
Greg Pincus

Doughnuts! Oh, doughnuts! Fried circles of yum.
You food that I simply adore.
You’re sure not nutritious, but you’re so delicious
I’m always left wishing for more.

I love you with frosting or covered in sprinkles.
I swoon for you, sweet, sugar raised!
When you’re filled with jelly, you warm up my belly...
While still leaving room for a glazed.

I’ll dip you in coffee or dunk you in milk.
I’ll eat you for breakfast or brunch.
I get so impassioned for simple old-fashioned
That sometimes I make them my lunch.

Doughnuts! Oh, doughnuts! Definers of yum.
You perfect fried circles of dough.
Although you’re caloric, you leave me euphoric...
So give me a dozen to go!

Today's also Poetry Friday, and you can check out the roundup of posts hosted at Carol's Corner. And then maybe you want to join me for a fried circle of yum? Yay!

Oh! You can find this poem and 53 others in my collection The Late Bird, available on Kindle (and all the free Kindle apps, too) and Nook

If you want to get all my new poems (and only the poems) emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

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27. Book Trailers and BookReels.com

I'm a fan of book trailers. Heck, I made one for The 14 Fibs of Gregory K., in fact... and you can now find it in a new place, too - on BookReels.com.

BookReels is hoping to be an MTV for book trailers (and book sales) says co-founder Dan Rosen (who I used to write alongside at coffeehouses many moons ago!). I think it would be fabulous to see it become another community where folks are talking books, and hope to see the community that's forming there continue to grow.

Joining and rating and chatting is free. Uploading is free. Why not go check it out? And if you haven't ever seen and heard my trailer, why not start there? Cuz, like... it makes me happy!

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28. As Easy as ABC: Awards, Best Sellers, and Critical Thinking

The author with one of his many awards.
Award-winning,* best-selling** author Greg Pincus here. I wanted to write a little today about the ABCs - awards, best sellers, and critical thinking.

This past week, Rush Limbaugh won Author of the Year at the Children's Choice Book Awards, an award sponsored by the Children's Book Council. Much as when his nomination as a finalist was announced, there was much gnashing of teeth inside (and outside) the children's book world with the award announcement, including many comments about how the award and even the CBC had lost credibility.

It's easy to feel outraged when there's a sense of being snookered or betrayed, but the reality is that the Author of the Year award has always been determined the same way - qualification is based on sales, then there's a popular vote to pick the winner. That didn't change this year.

So, if the award had credibility before, it has credibility now, even if the winner seems "unworthy" somehow. If you weren't aware of the criterion for the award and how it was picked, at the end of the day that's on you, not the award. And not liking the results doesn't change that at all.

If we ask who gave this particular award whatever credibility it has, I'd say that the answer is that we did, collectively. Perhaps, in this case, it's trust in the creators of the award or the fact that it's part of a mission that we love (celebrating children's books!) and that talented authors have won it before. Regardless, our celebration of award winning status in general definitely is a factor. And that, again, is on us.

Awards for creative endeavors are a tricky thing. In a blog post that's well worth a read, Emma Dryden touches on some of the challenges and pitfalls of them and how we value them. Yet it's not easy to change this - there's all sorts of psychology in play here (including confirmation bias, social conformity, and more), and it's hard to overcome. Awards should mean something, we've decided, so when we see an award (particularly from an organization that seems legit and good), we give it value.

And yet that's abdicating our personal responsibility to practice critical thinking and view each situation individually.

*For example, I honestly am an award-winning author. I'm not talking about awards for my debut novel The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. (which, I note, was a finalist for the Cybils and Crystal Kite... but not a winner) or my screenplays. Nope. I won an award in middle school at the Ready Writing Contest at Mansfield State College. My Punt Pass and Kick trophy from when I was eight could count, too - it's an award for me, after all, and I am an author. Context and critical thinking matter again, clearly.

How we view the status of "best seller" falls into this same arena, at least to me. Best-selling sounds "good" and "impressive," and it's easy to see why an author would link that to his/her name. And yet...

Best Seller!
**I can legitimately describe myself as a best-selling author: upon release, my ebook of poetry, The Late Bird, topped Amazon's Kindle Children's Poetry best seller list for over a month.

I also know that my sales during that period tapered off rapidly and included weeks of single digit sales. (10 of you feel free, as a social experiment, to buy The Late Bird and watch me top the same chart again. Go for it. I'll wait here :-)).

So, does Best Seller by itself really carry any weight? Again, we collectively have given it status and credibility, but perhaps we've done so without always considering context.

It's very easy to accept that statuses like "award winner" and "best seller" are impressive and meaningful, but if we don't think critically - asking questions like who gave an award, what was the purpose, what were the qualifications, what was the process, how were "sales" measured, where was it a best seller - then we're following blindly and not thinking for ourselves. And that? Well, that's sad no matter who has won what.

What do you think? Do we trust awards, best seller lists, reviews, and the like too much? Is the recent outrage only political in nature and not about our responsibility to think critically? Or...? I look forward to your thoughts.

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29. 30 Poets/2 Years/1 Day

April and 30 Poets/30 Days are done, but I wanted to wrap up the month that just passed here on Poetry Friday (and you can see the roundup of PF posts at Write.Sketch.Repeat). This year, I re-issued the poetry from the first two years of the event, so there were 60 poets and 60 poems in one month's time.

And I just have to say it was a privilege, again, to share the amazingly diverse work - in content and style - by an amazing group of talented poets. And to be among them? A thrill. Totally.

So, here, then is what I call 30 Poets/2 Years/1 Day!

April 1: Jack Prelutsky and Alice Schertle
April 2: Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Joseph Bruchac
April 3: Charles Ghigna and Laura Purdie Salas
April 4: X. J. Kennedy and Calef Brown
April 5: Ann Whitford Paul and Carole Boston Weatherford
April 6: Jaime Adoff and Jorge Argueta
April 7: Marilyn Singer and Susan Marie Swanson
April 8: Adam Rex and Ralph Fletcher
April 9: Joyce Sidman and Alan Katz
April 10: Bruce Lansky and Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
April 11: Avis Harley and Charles Waters
April 12: Nikki Grimes and Kathi Appelt
April 13: Lee Bennett Hopkins and Kurt Cyrus
April 14: Linda Sue Park and Arthur A. Levine
April 15: Mary Ann Hoberman and Eileen Spinelli
April 16: Betsy Franco and Bobbi Katz
April 17: Jon Scieszka and James Carter
April 18: Kristine O'Connell George and Elaine Magliaro
April 19: Arnold Adoff and David L. Harrison
April 20: Jane Yolen and Brod Bagert
April 21: Greg Pincus and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
April 22: Janet Wong and Heidi Mordhorst
April 23: Nikki Giovanni and Charles R. Smith, Jr.
April 24: J. Patrick Lewis and Georgia Heard
April 25: Julie Larios and George Ella Lyon
April 26: Joan Bransfield Graham and Jacqueline Woodson
April 27: Kenn Nesbitt and Graham Denton
April 28: April Halprin Wayland and Francisco X. Alarcón
April 29: Douglas Florian and Liz Garton Scanlon
April 30: Pat Mora and Walter Dean Myers

Yeah, it was a fine month. Of course, poetry runs year round here at GottaBook, and if you want to keep on top of it, I hope you'll sign up to my poetry email list. That way, when a poem appears here, you'll get it via email for super-easy reading and sharing (plus there have been giveaways and other small extras, too). If you want in, just enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe:

Thanks again for hanging out here for 30 Poets/30 Days. I'm already looking forward to next April... and the 11 months in between, too.

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30. Meet Andrew Huang ("A Genius!" Says I)

I don't think I'm prone to hyperbole, so I truly mean it when I say that Andrew Huang is the type of brilliant, creative talent I believe makes the world a happier place. So, when I decided to make a book trailer for the 14 Fibs of Gregory K., I knew I wanted him to create the song for it. And he did, and it makes me happy EVERY time I hear it.

I've followed his music for years - from his albums on Bandcamp (many owned by this family, I must add!); the amazing Songs to Wear Pants To; all of his fantastic videos. He a multi-instrumentalist who crosses genres and styles and does stuff like make music with 1000 pairs of pants or puts e.e. cummings to music or rap in which the only vowel he uses is the letter E:

(All proceeds from that song, by the way, benefit Habitat for Humanity. So, like, he's a good egg on top of his ability to dismiss all vowels besides E with the line "these excess letters - delete".)

Anyway, I interviewed Andrew via email and now have a chance to share it with you. And please - check him out at any of the above links. You won't be sorry.

When did you discover your love of music? 

Summer by Andrew Huang
I have been experimenting with a lot of musical stuff since an early age, whether it was plinking away on the piano or recording myself on a tape deck. I always considered myself more of a visual artist though until my teens when I started being introduced to music outside of the pop and classical that I grew up with - stuff like punk rock, trip-hop, bebop, cool jazz, weird underground electronic stuff... I realized I loved it all.

Your song challenge videos/songs are incredibly creative. How do you even approach something like "make a song only using the sounds you can make from 1000 pairs of jeans"? Or "only use water sounds." I mean... seriously?

Those found sound videos are fun. It's really a process of discovery. I might have an inkling of where I could take something, but I basically start out by trying to get every possible sound I can out of whatever the challenge calls for. Usually, each sound I can make ends up translating in my mind into a representation of an instrument - tapping a box might work as a snare drum, for example. And then it's back to the normal matter of arranging a piece of music. The palette is limited depending on the materials of course. Most often in these kinds of pieces there isn't something very suitable to use as a bass.

You make music in so many different styles and genres. Do you have a favorite?

Couldn't ever pick a favorite. What I listen to changes all the time. In terms of what I create - sonically speaking - pop, rap, and the wonderfully broad "electronic" would form the backbone of the majority of my work, but I think I also bring a sense of structure and orchestration that comes from what I know and love in classical music. And my songwriting craft was honed more from listening to rock, folk, and country. If we throw all that in the pot it'll keep me happy (most of the time).

You just released a new album on Bandcamp. What's next?

Haha. "You just released a new album on Bandcamp" is a phrase that applies to me about once a month. (Greg's note: you really have to check out his stuff on Bandcamp.)

I'm working on a bunch of new stuff that will be seeing the light of day soon but the biggest thing is this sort of dark, brooding pop album called The Coldest Darkness. It's been years in the making and I haven't often been this excited about a project. There will be a really awesome physical package to go with it to, and I'm working on some out-of-the-ordinary ways that fans will be able to get themselves an early copy.

Andrew is also touring the West Coast of the US with Hank Green this summer. Perhaps I'll see you at a show?

Besides YouTube and Bandcamp, you can find Andrew on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere as @AndrewIsMusic.  I leave you with his Gravy and Toast, a song he wrote on commission. I mean, really - he turned toast and gravy into toe tapping singable fun. I rest my case!

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31. 30 Poets/Day 30 - Pat Mora and Walter Dean Myers

What a month! And today's poems by Pat Mora and Walter Dean Myers seem like a perfect way to close, at least to me. It has been a thrill for me to share poetry this month by soooooo many poets who I admire so much (59 to be exact!). And thanks for hanging out with us!

Books & Me
Pat Mora

We belong
books and me,
like toast and jelly
o queso y tortillas.
Delicious! ¡Delicioso!

Like flowers and bees,
birds and trees,
books and me.

©2009 Pat Mora. All rights reserved.

Walter Dean Myers

How come my feet know how to meet
The sidewalk as I walk?
          “Because of your brain, my love.”
How come my lips don’t ever slip
As I begin to talk?
          “Your lovely brain, my pet”
How come my knees fly through the breeze
As I race along?
          “Did I mention your B-R-A-I-N?”
How come my ears know what to hear
When I listen to a song?
          “They’re connected to your brain!”
How come my eyes can judge the size
Of everything they see?
          “Your brain, dummy!”
How come my wrists know how to twist
A knob or turn a key?
          “BRAIN! BRAIN! BRAIN! Use it!”
And how come my belly button just sits there in the middle of my stomach without doing one little bit of work, gets these little lint things in it, and feels funny if I touch it?

          “Err…beats me.”

© Walter Dean Myers. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday we had poetry from Douglas Florian and Liz Garton Scanlon. Today wraps up 30 Poets/30 Days for 2014! Tomorrow, please check out my feature on Andrew Huang, composer of the theme song for my middle grade novel, The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. And while there's poetry all year round here at GottaBook, make sure you come back this Friday for a wrap up of this year's poetic festivities!

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along all the future such events here at GottaBook.

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32. 30 Poets/Day 29 - Douglas Florian and Liz Garton Scanlon

It's a good day when you have Douglas Florian and Liz Garton Scanlon gracing your blog, I say. (And I say this even though back in 2009, due to my executive functioning skills, I didn't end up with a previously unpublished Douglas Florian poem so went into improv mode and shared a poem of his that's always stuck with me.) Riddles, laughs, beauty...  I will miss this month when it passes, I must say....

Douglas Florian

I think I've never
Seen a poem
To praise a piece
of Styrofoam.
I've waited years -
I'm waiting still.
I guess I never

I was inspired by that poem (from Bing Bang Boing). So I sat down and wrote the following:

Ode to a Piece of Styrofoam
(For Douglas Florian)
Greg Pincus

Styrofoam's good -
There is no debate.
And Styrofoam won't

(click here to see the original post and comments)

Liz Garton Scanlon

I’m your moody friend with a changing face
looking out from deep in space.

I’m peppermint candy, cold but sweet,
and lantern light on a sleepy street.

I’m not afraid of howling dogs,
I cut through morning’s thickest fogs.

I brighten baby’s lullaby
with a twinkle in my eye.

I conduct the ocean tides
and set the stage for midnight rides.

A calendar for keeping time –
sharp as a sword, round as a dime.

I tempt the astronauts each night
while I rob Sun of extra light.

Golden as an apple pie,
but twice as big and twice as high.

Waxing now but soon I’ll wane,
then always come around again.

Friend to possums, hungry bats,
spotlight for the prowling cats,

I share my shine, for what it’s worth,
with everyone upon the earth.

I’m your companion in the sky
but do you know me? Who am I?

© 2010 Liz Garton Scanlon. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday we had poems from April Halprin Wayland and Francisco X. Alarcón. Tomorrow, we finish up the month with Walter Dean Myers and Pat Mora.

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along.

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33. 30 Poets/Day 28 - April Halprin Wayland and Francisco X. Alarcón

OK, here on day 28 with April Halprin Wayland and Francisco X. Alarcón and my search for daily themes once again leads me to say "I love poetry! That's the theme! POETRY!" Yup. I've done a good job this month not going all fanboy on y'all, but geeeeez, once again I gotta say... I love these poems, and hope you do, too.

April Halprin Wayland

First, read the title of the poem

and the poet’s name.

Be clear.

Now completely


Let each line


Then read it

one more time.

When the poem

ends, sigh.

Think about the poet at her desk,
late at night, picking up her pen to write…

and why.

© 2009 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Francisco X. Alarcón


“listen, mijito
we are never
really alone”

my grandma
to my ear

like a flapping
in the dark

“the wind
the stars
the sea

never stop
speaking to
each of us”

“escucha, mijito
nunca estamos
solos en realidad”

me susurra
mi abuelita
como colibrí

junto a mi oído
en la oscuridad

“el viento
las estrellas
el mar

a cada uno
no nos dejan
de hablar”

© 2010 Francisco X. Alarcón. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday we had poetry from Kenn Nesbitt and Graham Denton. Tomorrow... Douglas Florian and Liz Garton Scanlon.

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along.

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34. 30 Poets/Day 27 - Kenn Nesbitt and Graham Denton

When you have Kenn Nesbitt and Graham Denton on the same day, well, it's a day of smiles and smarts in poetry form (aka, a good day!). And thanks to Kenn, people arrive at my blog after typing "chicken on internet" on Google. That's poetic, too, in its own way!

My Chicken's On the Internet
Kenn Nesbitt

My chicken's on the Internet.
She surfs the web all day.
I've tried to stop her browsing
but, so far, there's just no way.

She jumps up on the mouse
and then she flaps around like mad
to click on every hyperlink
and every pop-up ad.

She plays all sorts of chicken games.
She messages her folks.
She watches chicken videos
and forwards chicken jokes.

She writes a blog for chickens
and she uploads chicken pics.
She visits chicken chat rooms
where she clucks about her chicks.

I wouldn't mind so much
except my keyboard's now a wreck.
She hasn't learned to type yet;
she can only hunt and peck.

© 2009 Kenn Nesbitt. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Sounds Delightful
Graham Denton

Sounds of scary night-time creatures:
howling wolves and screeching bats,
wailing witches, cackling demons,
giggling goblins, keening cats;
ghostly sounds to make one shiver:
haunting screams and ghastly groans;
rattling chains and shrieks of horror—
noises that will chill the bones;
creaking floorboards, footsteps creeping,
voices from beyond the grave...
when they’re having trouble sleeping
that’s what infant monsters crave!

©2010 Graham Denton. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday gave us poetry by Joan Bransfield Graham and Jacqueline Woodson. Tomorrow... Francisco X. Alarcón and April Halprin Wayland.

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along.

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35. 30 Poets/Day 26 - Joan Bransfield Graham and Jacqueline Woodson

Once again, with these works by Joan Bransfield Graham and Jacqueline Woodson, here are two totally different types of poems, both of which will knock your socks off.

Joan Bransfield Graham

I am the poem
of reach
I make you
and leap and
and when you're
about to
off I twirl
in clever
but we are
far apart
I pirouette
your heart
and head and
with all the
I can employ:

it is the dance
that is the joy.

© 2009 Joan Bransfield Graham. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

One of the Many Stories
Jacqueline Woodson

When the puppy in the road was
mine, life didn't stop
for the driver. That evening perhaps
he read his son one of many stories
grownups write for children
about dogs. Perhaps
this one found its way
Home. The End. Then kissed his child
center crown as always, the meat
his wife was roasting, nearly done
by the time the vet pronounced
Bella dead at four months, one half
hour before my daughter, at six, discovered
a new way tomorrow could get here
tears to whimpering then finally sleep
a plastic bone beneath her pillow from this moment on,
safe still from towers burning, a car moving fast
against traffic as the children inside squeal
themselves to death. A pan of oil too close
to an open flame     She Is, I think
safe still from other stories.

Night and the driver
couldn't see a black puppy bolting
Didn't know
that deep in her German Shepherd blood
was a desire for the only story she knew
Let's call it "Home"

so when the door was cracked
she saw the promise of black night
caught scent of her recent journey
thought she knew the way
back to us
One half mile away from where I stood
packing, now pondering black linen shorts
now folding a Mama For Obama t-shirt into my bag
now smiling over our daughter's first
pink bikini as our dogsitters searched and found
our number. Already, our trip
to the Caribbean was becoming another story
of another almost-thing, puppy-blood warm
freezing fast for us into
On the corner of Pacific and Bond that February

©2010 Jacqueline Woodson. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday, we had poetry from Julie Larios and George Ella Lyon. Tomorrow... Kenn Nesbitt and Graham Denton.

 Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along.

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36. 30 Poets/Day 25 - Julie Larios and George Ella Lyon

Ahhh, yes. Aren't these poems by Julie Larios and George Ella Lyon just gorgeous? That's why I chose them for the 25th, International Gorgeous Poem Day (newly minted by me). OK, fine. But they are wonderful words in perfect order.... Enjoy!

Julie Larios

If I were a kite
with no strings to hold me,
I 'd let the wind take me –
I'd let the crows scold me,
I'd float through the sky
with the sun on my shoulders.
The clouds would all bite
at my ears. I'd be bolder
than bold, I’d dance, I'd go soaring—
a life in the sky could never be boring.

I'd fly over houses then over the tops
of skyscraping buildings
but I wouldn't stop there, I'd sail over sailboats
and islands
and oceans.
I’d drive the world loco with my locomotion.

Diving and squawking,
The seagulls would show me the migrating whales
as they spouted below me.
Over Kansas and Kashmir,
the hot sands of Cairo,
Mt. Fuji, Mt. Everest –
higher and higher—
wheatfields would wave to me,
deserts would sigh.
Icebergs would stare as I rose in the sky.

The sun would be one friend,
the bright moon another.
And what would the stars be
but sisters and brothers?

I'd know all the secrets the sky's never told me
if I were a wild kite
with no strings to hold me.

©2009 Julie Larios. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

George Ella Lyon
(according to the Celtic Tree Calendar
my birthday makes me a Willow)

How about a willow
         that doesn’t weep
that spikes her green tresses
         and carries on sturdy
like some punk oak

or gets that groovy bark
         like a hackberry

O willow
what if I don’t want to be
or witched
what if I want to be

royal like the oak
strong enough to be a ship

or abloom with love
like the apple

or sacred like the pine?

Am I stuck here
by the water
enchanted against my own

©2010 George Ella Lyon. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday we had poetry from J. Patrick Lewis and Georgia Heard. Tomorrow... Joan Bransfield Graham and Jacqueline Woodson.  And hey... check out the Poetry Friday roundup over at The Opposite of Indifference for a whole slew of poetry month joy!

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along.

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37. 30 Poets/Day 24 - J. Patrick Lewis and Georgia Heard

It's Day 24 of 30 Poets/30 Days and today, with J. Patrick Lewis and Georgia Heard poems for you, I present theme-by-coincidence: poems that are about poetry! Maybe it's my "day after Shakespeare's birthday" tribute? Or maybe, as before, it's just two great poems shared a year part. You be the judge....

The Poet of the World
J. Patrick Lewis

"How ho-ho-hum has the planet become!"
      Cried the Poet of the World.
"I must sonnet the wind, sestina the sea."
      Then he dipped his pen and he swirled

Out a poem where braves become braver, and knaves
      Wander under a vinegar sky,
And a Duchess receives purely innocent thieves
      Who are normally camera-shy.

"The heroes are villains, the geniuses mad!"
      So he spun them a roundelay.
"All the people who live in the Ivory Land
      Would be happier villanelle gray."

Then he thought, "I must metaphor girls in gold
      And simile boys in blue."
He looked up from his Book, and he said, "I forgot,
      Which character are you?"

©2009 J. Patrick Lewis. All rights reserved.
From A Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year – Little, Brown, Ethan Long, illustrator
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Ars Poetica

Georgia Heard

In September, small poems lay
still and silent inside your hearts.
If you listened carefully,
you might have heard
the quivering of wings.

In January, from the corner
of your eye, you could have spied
a flutter or two –
poems slowly unfolding,
delicate silken wings.

In April, poems began to appear everywhere!
Rainbow wings beating, flapping,
hovering over desks, hanging
from the ceiling, tips of noses, tops of heads.
It was difficult to get any work done!

Now, your butterfly poems
fly free. You fold the memory
into your hearts. Poems --
small butterflies raised, watched,
let loose into the world.

©2010 Georgia Heard. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday we had poems from Nikki Giovanni and Charles R. Smith, Jr. Tomorrow... Julie Larios and George Ella Lyon.

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along. 

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38. 30 Poets/Day 23 - Nikki Giovanni and Charles R. Smith, Jr.

Here on Day 23 with Nikki Giovanni and Charles R. Smith, Jr. poems, I'm reminded again that the unifying factor every day in 30 Poets/30 Days is "good poetry by amazing poets." Doesn't mean I won't search for other themes, of cousre (hey, it worked for Earth Day!), but today I am happy to share good poetry by two amazing poets!

My Sister and Me
Nikki Giovanni

Chocolate cookies
Chocolate cakes
Chocolate fudge
Chocolate lakes
Chocolate kisses
Chocolate hugs
Two little chocolate girls
In a chocolate rug

No one can find us
We're all alone
Two little chocolate girls
Running from home

Chocolate chickies
Chocolate bunnies
Chocolate smiles
From chocolate mommies
Chocolate rabbits
Chocolate snakes
Two little chocolate girls
Wide awake

What an adventure
My, what fun
My sister and me
Still on the run
Still on the run
My sister and me
On the run

©2009 Nikki Giovanni. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

I Speak
Charles R. Smith, Jr.

for those who are meek,
for those who cover ears
to silence sirens and shrieks
shouted from mothers
with mascara-stained cheeks
sobbing over souls
slain in the streets
leaving generation gaps,
I speak.

I speak
for those living in silence,
quieted by criminals
with a history of violence,
for those whose lives
were changed by the demise
of loved ones lost
right before their own eyes,
for them,
I speak.

for young eyes that see
bruises branded by daddy’s
fists on mommy,
battering her body
scarring her soul
turning her children’s
warm hearts cold
forcing their faces
to hide and seek
shelter from rage
for them
I speak.

I speak
for the illiterate and weak,
those who slip through the cracks
and fall on the streets
and scratch for salvation
without food, shelter or heat,
for those who are lost,
for them,
I speak.

These words that I say,
these words that I speak
give voice to the silent,
scared and weak.

These words that I speak,
these words that I say
challenge everyone
to listen

©2009 Charles R. Smith, Jr. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday we had poems from Janet Wong and Heidi Mordhorst. Tomorrow...  J. Patrick Lewis and Georgia Heard.

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along. 

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39. 30 Poets/Day 22 - Janet Wong and Heidi Mordhorst

So, here on April 22 with poems by Janet Wong and Heidi Mordhorst there actually IS a theme... because the 22nd is Earth Day and these poems are thematically Earth Day friendly (besides being strong in their own right for any day). So here's to our Earth and to poetry, two of my favorite things.

My Green Grandfather
Janet Wong

If you praised my grandfather
for being green,
he would check his favorite flannel shirt
and say, "You see paint?"

But he is as green
as the snow peas he grows in his garden.
Green as the old glass jars in his garage
that hold pins and nails and hinges.
Green as the avocados he buys
from the little store on the corner.

If I praised my grandfather
for his small carbon footprint,
he would check the bottom of his shoes for dirt,
then say, "Size 10 EEE."

I walk on my tiptoes beside him.

©2009 Janet Wong. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Smaller Than I Thought
       for Mrs. Alexander’s Class
Heidi Mordhorst

Here at the Earth Day Party in the park
they’re cutting the Earth Day Cake:
rich chocolate to stand for the soil,
swirls of green and blue frosting
to represent land and water.
The white icing at the Poles
is melting under the
unseasonably hot April sun.

It’s smaller than I thought.
The pieces are small, too.

There’s no point in asking for seconds;
in fact, there isn’t enough to go around.
Some of us will have to share
one slice of Earth Day Cake between us.
I don’t know the kid who comes
to sit beside me on the lawn.
“Let’s take tiny nibbles to make it
last longer,” he suggests. I nod,

and we gingerly dig our two forks
into one small slice of the blue Pacific.

© Heidi Mordhorst. all rights reserved
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday brought us poems by Greg Pincus and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. Tomorrow... Nikki Giovanni and Charles R. Smith, Jr.

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along.

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40. SCBWI Summer Conference Registration is Open, And...


... I'm on faculty this year, so I say you must attend so we can chat!

Have you seen the lineup of keynote presenters? Wow. Every year I think "yeah, but who will they give us next year?" And each year the conference has incredible people, and I sigh and say "geez, who will they get NEXT year?" It's an amazing lineup of breakout sessions, too.

As part of the Conference, I'm offering a limited number of social media consultations that you can sign up for (there's a fee, just like the manuscript consults). For the summer con, I'm adding in more, more, more than what I've done with these consults at other events... and folks tell me those are worth it as is.

If you've got questions about the consults or my breakout session (whose title includes the word Pintwitfacegramblr in its name), just ask. Most of all, I hope you'll be there this summer so we can hang out!

Register for the event right here!

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41. 30 Poets/Day 21 - Greg Pincus and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Elephants and pasta both have natural ties to the 21st of April because... huh. I guess the fact is that Greg Pincus (a.k.a. me!) and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer appeared on this day was as random as I expected. Today's poems further show, I think, that you can go anywhere with poetry. And that, my friends, is unquestionably good!

I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown
Greg Pincus

I went to the farm where spaghetti is grown
In rows of long vines in a field of its own.
It grows in the shade of the great ziti trees,
Right next to the bushes that grow mac-and-cheese.
Lasagna plants bloom alongside manicotti,
And orchards of angel hair grow long and knotty.
I watched as a tractor plowed rows of linguini,
And cheered at the harvest of fresh tortellini.
I helped as the farmer cleared fields full of weeds
Then planted a crop using orzo as seeds.
We watered his land that was miles across
Then fertilized amply with meatballs and sauce.
When I left that farm where spaghetti is grown
In rows of long vines in a field of its own,
I thought it the greatest place under the sky...
'Til I saw the farm where they only grow pie!

©2009 Gregory K. Pincus. All rights reserved.
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Long, long ago,
before man tamed words on the page
and when elephants
were great kings of the sky,
ruling the storms,
inking out the sun,
stampeding across the stars,
there was a great counselor and prophet
who traveled to the most remote mountain villages
to share all he knew.
As word spread of the master’s visit,
many gathered under the arms
of an ancient elm,
and even a great flock of
elephants swooped in with
the first ribbons of dawn
to perch in the branches and listen.
But a quarrel erupted
among the elephants
over who had the best view,
causing the limbs of the tree
to fracture and fall,
crushing all but the prophet himself.
the prophet invoked a dreadful curse,
shriveling the elephants’ prized wings
into pitiful ears,
chaining the elephant
to gravity and man’s will
for all eternity.
To this very day
you can see the poor elephants
flapping their ears,
dreaming of flight,
but now only
cousins of clouds.

© Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. All rights reserved.
From the collection Cousins of Clouds
illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
Clarion, February 2011  
(click here to see the original post and comments)

Yesterday gave us poems by Jane Yolen and Brad Bogart. Tomorrow... Janet Wong and Heidi Mordhorst.

Please click here for more information about this year's edition of 30 Poets/30 Days, including how to follow along.

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42. 30 Poets/Day 1 - Jack Prelutsky and Alice Schertle

The incomparable Jack Prelutsky started off the entire 30 Poets/30 Days adventure with a poem written especially for the event!  In 2010, we kicked off with Alice Schertle in fine triolet form. I'm gonna run out of adjectives this month, but geeeeeez, I love these poets and poems!

A Little Poem For Poetry Month
Jack Prelutsky

I’m glad we have a Poetry Month,
But still, I wonder why
They chose a month with thirty days—
Were months in short supply?
I wish that they’d selected
A longer month, like May.
I’m certain I’d appreciate
That extra poetry day.

Of course, if they’d picked February,
I would be aghast,
For February’s very short
And passes far too fast.
But April’s not as short as that,
So I don’t hesitate
To say I’m glad it’s Poetry Month.
Hooray! Let’s celebrate.

©2009 by Jack Prelutsky. All rights reserved. See the original posting here.

That Trouble My Sleep
    Alice Schertle

Does a tree make a sound
if there’s nobody there
when it falls to the ground?
Does a tree make a sound?
The question’s profound—
but why do I care
if a tree makes a sound
when there’s nobody there?

Was it the chicken
or egg that came first?
I feel my pulse quicken—
was it the chicken?
Now I am stricken
with doubt. I am cursed!
Was it the chicken
or egg that came first?

I ponder each riddle
that troubles my sleep.
Thumbs all a-twiddle
I ponder each riddle
ensnared in the middle
of “timber!” and “peep!”
I ponder each riddle
that troubles my sleep.

© 2010 Alice Schertle. All rights reserved. See the original posting here.
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43. Fibonachos! (A Recipe)

So, I ran across this recipe on a scrap of paper on my desk today - I recall quickly writing it late one night while brainstorming ideas for The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. launch.  I don't recall what my exact thoughts were, but I bet it was something like "Hey! It's food! And Fibonacci!" Regardless, here it is:


1 bag of chips
1 can refried beans
2 lbs. ground beef
3 handfuls shredded cheese
5 tablespoons sour cream

Serves 8.

In a large pan, brown the meat, seasoned to taste (with 13 spices, ideally). Combine with beans. Pour bag of chips onto cookie pan to form an even layer. Cover chips with meat-bean mixture. Sprinkle the three handfuls of cheese on top. Put in oven at 250 degrees for 10 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with sour cream.

Yes, I had all that written down. I was serious about this idea, I tell you! As you may recall... I had pie at the launch party instead. I'm okay with that... but if you ever want to invite me over for Fibonachos, I'm game!

Now, I already knew about a similar idea as presented by Bill Amend in Foxtrot. But I decided to Google "fibonachos" today and lo and behold, check out this gorgeous post on the Tech in Translation site. The picture below gives you the idea. And with that, I say... Fibonachos for all, and for all a good night!

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44. I'm For Sale Cheap!!!!

Or maybe not so cheap if y'all get into a bidding war! Regardless, I'm part of an auction - all of which is open to you (and all of which is worth checking out!). Here's what you can get from me:

You can bid on a one hour phone call with me to discuss writing, poetry, whatever (or, dare I say it, turn it into Skype visit!) and get a signed copy of The 14 Fibs of Gregory K.

And you can bid on two hours of my social media consulting services - currently going for a huge discount to my normal rate.

There are some really amazing things in this auction, by the way (your kid in a Marvel comic! A personalized greeting recorded by The Ice King from Adventure Time! Various table reads here in Hollywood, signed swag, and two times me!), and it's for a school that does absolutely extraordinary things for some amazing students.

Bidding ends Saturday evening, so hurry, I say. Buy me for a great cause! And thanks!

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45. The Cybils Awards announced!

Well, I'll start off by saying that The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. did NOT win the MG Cybil award. Sigh. It was a thrill to be nominated, however, and I cannot wait to get my hands on Ultra by David Carroll, the MG winner. It was the one book in the category I hadn't read... and the others were so fantastic that I know that Ultra must be amazing.

The list of Cybil award winners is a great collection of books for kids across a whole range of areas. As always, I highly recommend checking 'em out.

And congratulations to all the winners!

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46. This Post is Kinda Dumb....

So, on Sunday afternoon, I visited the one and only Dumb Starbucks in the US. All of us in line knew we were part of something that was art or a promotion or both, and I don't think anyone was waiting (and waiting and waiting!) for the free coffee. We were waiting because it was fun. It was community. It was... dumb in the best way!

What is Dumb Starbucks? Well, it's a place that is a "working
Dumb Venti, Dumb Grande, Dumb Tall
coffee shop" that looks like Starbucks, has a menu board like Starbucks, appropriates the logo of Starbucks... but simply adds the word "Dumb" in front of everything. Well, except the seasonal drink, the "Wuppy Duppy Latte." (Quoth the barista when asked what the drink was, "It's whatever you want it to be.")

It was exceedingly well done, including three Dumb CDs (one of which was part of a whole series of dumb music of the world).

And yes, it turns out that the whole thing is the brainchild of Nathan Fielder who hosts a Comedy Central show called Nathan For You. He claims there will be one in Brooklyn in two weeks, in fact, though who knows if it'll happen.

It wasn't just performance art which might've been more satisfying, but the way it played out was probably the same regardless. Here's the message from the founder that keeps in the spirit of the launch.

Now, I was gonna tie this into a writing post ("pay attention to detail") or a social media post ("go viral with IP borrowing at your own risk!") or both... but I decided, no, I'd just share my dumb experience. I got my drink, had a blast, and got more than enough enjoyment out of it to pay me back for my time. It was a win!

I hope you had an equally enjoyable weekend....

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47. Blinding You With Science (Poetry, That Is)!

I am super excited to be part of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, out this week from Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong!

The book is chock full of over 300 science related poems by an incredible assortment of poets - Laureates J. Patrick Lewis, Mary Ann Hoberman, and Kenn Nesbitt, for example, or Joyce Sidman and Jane Yolen as other examples. Oh, and I'm in there, too!

The poems say they're for K-5, but I've been reading them since they arrived and... oh, just buy it. It's great stuff (and I'm not even using the classroom bonus material).

If you want the poems broken down by grade level, you can get that, too - there are six smaller books - the K through 5 booklets, really - that you can purchase individually (with bonus poems, but not all the same teacher-ish stuff in it).

You can check out all the Poetry Friday Anthologies on the Pomelo Books website as they are all worth a look.

But in the meantime, I say to you... Science!!!!

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48. Happy Pi Day!

If this isn't the most numerical beautiful pie around, I don't know what is (from The Nerdista)

As a lover of pie, pi, Fibonacci, math, and circles (who doesn't love circles?), 3/14 is fine day, indeed. I hope you get to celebrate it more than three times today!

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49. What a Poem Can Be - a poem about poems

What a Poem Can Be
Greg Pincus
(inspired by Marilyn Singer's What Water Can Be)

Complete in a couplet
    A poem, petite
Placed well on the page
    A poem, concrete
An A B, A B verse
    A poem that's rhyming
Clear metered precision
    A poem with timing
Strong words in set structure
    A poem well formed
On stage off the page
    A poem performed
Fun twists causing laughter
    A poem with wit
Best words in best order
    A poem well writ

Today's poem was written in response to the poetry prompt at The Miss Rumphius Effect, sharing Marilyn Singer's poem from her book How to Cross a Pond: Poems About Water.

I don't know that this form has a name, but it was true that it forced me to think of word choice. I suspect I will tweak and tweak and tweak this one because I had so much fun with it, but I promised myself I'd post what I had today... and here 'tis!

Good fun. Thanks for the prompt, Tricia!

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50. Announcing the 2014 Redux-Edition of 30 Poets/30 Days!

This year, I'm doing something a little different with 30 Poets/30 Days: I'm going to the archives and re-sharing the first two years of the amazing poetry I've been lucky enough to have here at the blog.

This will be the first year without new poems - logistics and life conspired to make it so that I wouldn't be able to offer up 30/30 the way I wanted. So, as I tried to figure out what to do to keep the event moving forward (because finding 30 poets was NOT the problem!), I went back and re-read old poems... and the answer became clear.

Each day of April, I'll re-share the poems that came out on that day in 2009 and 2010. For example, on April 1, you'll have poetry by Jack Prelutsky and Alice Schertle. So, two poems a day... and here's the full list of whose poetry you'll see in during National Poetry Month here:

Arnold Adoff, Jaime Adoff, Francisco X. Alarcón, Kathi Appelt, Jorge Argueta, Brod Bagert, Carmen Bernier-Grand, Calef Brown, Joseph Bruchac, James Carter, Kurt Cyrus, Graham Denton, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Ralph Fletcher, Douglas Florian, Betsy Franco, Kristine O'Connell George, Charles Ghigna, Nikki Giovanni, Joan Bransfield Graham, Nikki Grimes, Avis Harley, David L. Harrison, Georgia Heard, Mary Ann Hoberman, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Alan Katz, Bobbi Katz, X. J. Kennedy, Bruce Lansky, Julie Larios, Arthur A. Levine, J. Patrick Lewis, George Ella Lyon, Elaine Magliaro, Pat Mora, Heidi Mordhorst, Walter Dean Myers, Kenn Nesbitt, Linda Sue Park, Ann Whitford Paul, Greg Pincus, Jack Prelutsky, Adam Rex, Laura Purdie Salas, Liz Garton Scanlon, Alice SchertleJon Scieszka, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, Charles Waters, Charles Waters, April Halprin Wayland, Carole Boston Weatherford, Janet Wong, Jacqueline Woodson, Jane Yolen, and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer.

You can see why I'm excited! I admit, I had not re-visited some of those poems in five years... and I'm suspecting most of you will find some wonderful surprises (or weren't even here with us those first years), so let me just say... there is some amazing work coming your way.

I'm looking forward to April, as always, and celebrating poetry a little more than during a typical month. But only a little more since poetry is a year-round thang!

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