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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
The new SCBWI.org website is up and running, and it's well worth checking out. And I don't say that because GottaBook happens to be one of the member blogs the site is featuring (though it is!). There are new features, the forums have been combined with Verla Kay's Blue Boards, and much more.
You should go check it out and click around a spell. Or, if you happened to be checking it out and ended up here... welcome, and I hope you click around a spell!
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I'm rather excited about the trailer for the 14 Fibs of Gregory K., in large part because it has an amazing song by Andrew Huang at its heart. I wanted the book to have a theme song, and, well, it does! And due to the title, I guess I do, too. Check it out and let me know what you think:
By the way... it looks like 14 Fibs comes out next week on the 24th!
This book on anti-gravity will never make you frown. In fact, the only problem is you just can't put it down.
What's that you say? I'm not allowed a groaner (with science that is not 100% perfect, I suppose)? Of course I am! It might be the only one that's part of this week's Poetry Friday roundup (hosted over at Teach Mentor Texts), but you'll only know if you go check it out.
If you want to get all the poems hereabouts (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!
So. Uh. My first ever copy of the hardcover, actual book of The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. arrived the other day. There was additional squeeing.
And then, as I figure all authors do, I explored the book. Thing of beauty it is! And look. LOOK!!! On the book itself... there is pie! It's engraved right in there. Isn't it delicious looking?
Nina Goffi did the design of the book for Scholastic, and seriously... the little details from cover to cover, inside and out, really make the whole experience better than it would be with just my words. Huzzahs to her, I say. Huzzahs!
(It comes out in a couple weeks now. WEEKS. For those of you who have been hanging around here for years, weeks is a much shorter time to wait. Check with your favorite bookseller today, I say!)
I read two dozen comic books. Three graphic novels, too. I understood the signs so wasn't eaten at the zoo! I read aloud each billboard as we drove on our vacation. The packages our food comes in? I read their information. I figured out which films to watch by reading their descriptions. I read a lot of magazines (and got a few subscriptions). I learned the rules of four new games by reading the instructions. I devoured five new joke books (though I skipped the introductions). I read the list of all the things I can't do at the pool. I even read the packet labeled "Welcome Back to School." I think I am a reader, though in class I get "those" looks... 'Cuz I didn't crack a cover of my summer reading books!
Ah, yes... summer reading. You know... let's not talk about that - let's talk instead about the fact that the Poetry Friday roundup is up over at Author Amok today! The roundup is purely happy stuff (as is, I've always believed, the very name Author Amok), so head on over and get your fill o' poetry goodies.
And if you want to get all the poems hereabouts (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!
It is always cause for celebration when Nikki Grimes has a new book out... and she does now with Words for Wings. So, yeah, I'm celebrating. But more than that, I'm saying you really oughta check it out - it is, in her typical fashion, awesome.
This is a novel of poems - compact, emotional, funny, expressive poems - telling the story of daydreamer... and maybe writer?!?!... Gabby. It's hard not to root for Gabby, a character who we learn about through her own words. Suffice to say, I'd love to see more books about her.
Now, what struck me personally is how Words with Wings shares a few strong themes with my own book coming out - a kid who writes and a teacher who makes a difference. Maybe this is why it struck such a chord with me? Maybe. But I think it's honestly that the story is so well handled and so enjoyable that it couldn't help but strike a chord with me.
I'm lying if I tell you I'm not excited about the fact that The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. is coming out sooooooooon (let's call it October 1, shall we?). I mean, yeah, I am excited. Like a lot.
And so much fun stuff is gonna happen here and elsewhere in the weeks ahead - more blogging, new poems, a song for you, video(s), guests here at Gottabook who I want you to meet, perhaps even me elsewhere on other blogs, and, of course, surprises. Most of all, I hope - fun. And I am just so happy I get to share this stuff with y'all - you're like family, you know? In a good way, naturally!
I wish I could have a party wherever you live. Maybe some day. Still, for my LA area friends, here's a wee tease of something for sure: the afternoon of October 19 at the fab Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse. PARTY! OK, that's not really a tease, but it's not my formal announcement, either, I guess. Or it is. Just come if you can (and look for details soon).
I'll also be talking about ways you can get a signed book no matter where you live, figuring out ways to celebrate virtually, and, yes... MORE!
While I don't talk about it much these days, I'm actually starting year nine of volunteer librarian-ing at my kids' elementary school. The last two years, the job wasn't much, as we frequently weren't able to get into our library space. As a result, this year... we're on the move!
The unfortunate part of the situation, besides actually physically moving the books, is that we're leaving a really wonderful set of rooms and downsizing. Still, having a room full of books you can't visit is, for me at least, in some ways more frustrating than not having books at all. So, we're packing up with the goal of also leaving a good collection behind in the original space and setting up our new, smaller-but-ours space, too.
We're lucky in that over the last eight years we've built a pretty solid collection and can create two viable collections. But geez... when there aren't duplicates of a book - particularly, I've noticed, a picture book - I do NOT want to leave it behind. I mean, some day a kid might pull Tell Me a Mitzi off the shelf, ya know?
Anyway, yesterday was particularly trying as I discovered that leaving any poetry book behind, even the many, many doubles (note: if you live on donations, you will get Shel Silverstein), was not something that was in my blood. It was an act of discipline to make choices, even knowing that we can access the books from either location. In the end, I admit it, I packed the poetry in a ratio that kept more of it with me.
And I'd do it again, too.
That said, let this be our secret, okay? Thanks. You're the best. (Oh, and all you amazing people who have donated books to the library or signed books when I've found you? Thanks again! All your books are staying with us, I guarantee!)
Yes, it's that time of year again - time to sign up to be on a Cybils panel! If you don't know the Cybils - the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards, well, it's also a great time to learn about 'em, I tell ya. You can even read about the early days before there was even an awards sticker that graces books....
If you blog about children's books (board book to YA) or children's apps, you're likely eligible to be a judge. And judging, I must tell you, is a lot of fun (and a great responsibility, cuz it's wonderfully serious business). I judged the poetry category for a few years and am still in touch with all my fellow panelists. Nuff said.
Ah, yes - it's about time for the annual SCBWI Summer Conference which, I'm happy to say, takes place in my own back yard. Not literally, of course, because there's not room for 1000 there. But close enough that I can drive to and from every night, saving hotel fees and food charges and the like.
Sadly, this year I'm not a paid attendee (schedule, time, time schedule, etc.), but I'll be there a whole bunch, hanging out in the hotel lobby or out on the patio or just plain old milling about seeing friends old and new.
If you're there, please say hello! And look for tweets with the #LA13SCBWI hashtag to keep up to date on the Twitter talk. (Plus, SCBWI's team blog's blog is always a great read!).
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This isn't just about listing books where disability factors in. No. We're talking critical looks at representation, conversations about myriad issues/concerns, and well-written thought pieces by folks who know of what they speak.
We talk about children's literature being a mirror for kids, and it's important to examine how we're really doing in that regard when it comes to our portrayals of others different than "the norm" (whatever the norm might mean these days....). Check it out, I say!
It's true - our chat this week (as always on Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific on Twitter) will be celebrating our fourth anniversary. Since chat is modest, it will not be all about it, of course, but focusing more on all the chatters and the industry itself.
The Fourth of July isn't what it used to be, isn't what it used to be, not even close to being close to what it used to be back in the days of old.
Where is the Fourth of July parade? The bands? Remember the bands that played, picnics, cookouts, fireworks adventures? Remember when Grandpa lost his dentures, Granny made ice cream, the four uncles sang (almost in tune) like a barbershop gang,
Saluting the flag? Dressed in red, white, and blue? Kids riding bikes down the avenue? Where is the Fourth of July of old? I said to Gramps, "It's holiday gold! July the Fourth is a household word!" But missing his teeth, he said to me, "Son, Ish only July da fird."
It's always nice (and a bit of a thrill) to have J. Patrick Lewis stop by here at GottaBook and share a poem. And today it's a poem for the 4th... or the 3rd... or both!
Whether you celebrate Independence Day or not, I wish you a happy Fourth. As for me... I'll be watching the fireworks, saluting history, and enjoying friends and family. Sounds like the July Fourths of old, perhaps? Just no lost dentures....
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The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. is due to launch three months from today!
Here again, because it makes me abundantly happy, is Linzie Hunter's fabulous cover:
You should stop by your favorite indie bookshop and encourage them to order gobs of copies, don't you think? Yes. Of course, you do. Don't know why I asked. Or you can pre-order it on Amazon, even.
But really what I encourage most is to hang out and be gleeful with me or with any other author you know who's got a book coming out soon. It's an exciting time, yet it's easy to forget to celebrate. So find an author and have some fun!
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It's a two year term, so Kenn will be taking over for J. Patrick Lewis this year and be laureating until 2015. I'm looking forward to tons of laughter from Kenn, as always, and I know he'll be inspiring kids to love all kinds of poetry for years to come.
First off... congratulations to Dave Crawley, winner of this year's March Madness (poetry style, that is)! Dave ran off a string of created-under-pressure poems based on assigned words (like his tourney ending entry using "bumbershoot" or his semifinal battle where his "sesquipedalian" poem barely topped vs. M. M. Socks' "portmanteau" verse) that was epic, impressive, and a whole lot of fun, too.
Now, if you followed March Madness or have read any of Dave Crawley's books, you'll know that he's got an incredible ability to make folks laugh. He turns a phrase and plays with words like nobody's business. In fact, he sent me a very funny poem as well as Eye of the Hawk, but I chose the latter because what I think often gets lost for those of us who write funny is that, well... I mean, look at the word choice, the imagery, the hidden rhymes and all that good stuff! It's there in all his funny stuff, too, but if you ignore it here, well, you'll end up prey, I tell ya!
I step off my soapbox with an entreaty that you find Dave Crawley's books and re-read his Madness poems. Or just enjoy the Hawk and see why I'm thrilled to have him here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.
I wanted to mention all the various honors Naomi Shihab Nye has received (multiple Pushcart Prizes, being a Guggenheim Fellow, the 2008 Cybil for Poetry for her book Honeybee) but on some level, I always wonder if that's really necessary... particularly after you've just read Driving Back. I mean... you don't really care about the awards, do you? You just read and that's enough.
I love the way Driving Back conveys so much heart and truth in just 11 words. It's a lesson I constantly have to relearn - brevity, honesty, simplicity, and the right words in the right order are the keys. Luckily, when I need a refresher, I can just turn to the poetry and prose of Naomi Shihab Nye to see all those elements at their best. And whether she's writing for adults or children or novels or standalone poems, she will make you think and feel... which is one reason why I'm so thrilled to have her here today to finish up this year's 30 Poets/30 Days.
Yesterday, Dave Crawley gave us Eye of the Hawk. Tomorrow... a recap of the 2013 edition of 30 Poets/30 Days. Which means it's over! Sigh. It's always a bit sad for me when April comes to an end, though there's much to come here at GottaBook in May and beyond. I hope you stick around to see it... and more than that, I hope your whole year is full of poetry!
I miss April already! Thanks so much to the 30 poets who shared their work here this month - 30 Poets/30 Days couldn't happen without you. Big thanks, too, to Carter Higgins for her logo. And to all of you who read along... I can tell you that all the poets and I appreciate you hanging out with us.
In case you missed anything (or even if you didn't), here's a review of the 2013 edition of 30 Poets/30 Days:
Again... thanks for being part of the fun. I hope you stay in touch!
And as always, you can can join my poetry list and get all the poems that appear here emailed out the day they hit my blog. Enter your email address below and click subscribe: Here's to poetry!
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Well, perhaps it surprises some, but certainly not me - It turns out that the ability to choose what one reads is critical to promoting reading, or so says this Canadian study. This echoes an earlier Scholastic report I mentioned here (and no surprise: the Canadian study looked at prior data and studies to reach conclusions).
I think this plays out a lot with poetry, too, kinda along Lee Bennett Hopkins' idea that you should read kids poetry and get out of the way. Poetry and reading shouldn't be treated as chores - they're pleasures. How this plays out in a classroom is challenging, I know, but take away freedom all over and... well.... Choice, I say!
So, today I voted here in the LA mayoral election... and I got one of those "I Voted" stickers. And I flashed back to childhood.
One day in either late elementary or early middle school, a friend and I had collected enough Chiquita banana stickers to give to everyone in the class and planned that at the top of the hour (I think it was), we'd all put said stickers on our noses and continue class as if nothing had happened.
My memory from here is even hazier, though I seem to recall the teacher continuing to lead the class without really acknowledging anything was amiss, though clearly aware.
What I don't recall was how I felt afterwards or whether the weeks of collecting stickers had paid off for me. I do know I never organized another banana-in. But to this day I have the urge to put stickers from bananas on my nose.
Nothing profound here, but it was a happy flashback for me and something I hadn't thought of in decades. And if you were there (or arranged a similar event!)... well... feel free to add your memories here. (You know... letting me know I'm not alone in my silliness!)
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