Friday, June 30, 2006

So, do you wanna...

... see my latest Book Talk column on MomReady?

... read and see some great Fibs with photos? Fibs were a writing prompt on one deep breath this past week, and the linked post gives links to 21 poets (at last count) who combined a Fib and a photo. Fantastic stuff for those who love Fibs.

... see a totally bizarre but wonderful Folgers commercial?

Well, if you wanna do any of those things, click on a link and have a good old time.

Happy Morning, indeed!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Oddaptation: The Lorax

What's this, you say? An Oddaptation of Seuss? Well, it had to happen, as the good Dr. wrote soooooo many classics/best-sellers and, well, those are what a guy like me has to Oddapt.

For those new to my Oddaptations, you can find out more via the links on the right under the headline The Oddaptations. But basically we're talking about mixing picture books with Cliff's Notes (synopsis, analysis) and a "pointed point of view." Dealing with a master rhymer like Dr. Seuss presented new challenges, of course, but why only take on the easy targets?

As always, feel free to suggest other titles you think are deserving....

by Dr. Seuss
Oddaptation by Gregory K.

The Lorax -- bossy, loud and rude --
Says to Onceler, “Listen, dude,
You’ve turned air all black and funky.
You’ve made ponds turn thick and gunky.
Trees are gone and now there’s weeds…
And no one needs your ugly thneeds.”
The Lorax doesn’t offer help.
All he does is moan and yelp.
Soon he’s overcome with stress,
And leaves behind one word: Unless.
Time goes on as time must do.
Onceler finally gets a clue.
When he’s learned he misbehaved,
He tosses you the seed he’s saved.
I say put it in your pocket
Then inside a safe and lock it.
Cuz if a forest blooms anew…
That Lorax will come back here, too.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Word Choice

I just took a walk around the neighborhood and even in doing that, the power of words and word choice was again driven home.

First off ... a nearby residence that had been for sale now has a second sign on it: BOUGHT. Yup, not sold, but bought. Different message. A carefully chosen word.

Unrelated on another FOR SALE sign, a realtor had added their slogan: Treating You Like Family.

Ahhh, yes. Family. A powerful word. Contrast the use on that sign with the ad I overheard on a radio just before I had rounded the corner to see that sign. The ad was for a weight-loss product I'll dub xxxxxxxx. And the ad said....

"Thanks to xxxxxxxx, some of my own family doesn't even recognize me anymore!"

Yes, indeedy. I'm sure the family members are grateful, too.

Thinking about words and word choice is why I started Fibbing (see those links over to the right of the blog under The Fibs for more of an explanation), but laughing at words and word choice goes back wayyyyyyyyy longer. And who knows, maybe that's why I'm a writer? Either that or it's just cuz I hate shaving.

More later, but for now, I gotta book.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A moneymaking idea?

You know you have a viable product idea when friends say "I'd buy it," and you search EBay and can't find something similar for sale.

So I want to invent a "plot laxative" for when you're stuck on an idea. Ya know, everything's bottled up inside and you're so close but you just can't get it out... on paper.

Not that I'd ever need this. All my ideas burst forth fully formed, of course. But, I mean really, I talk to other writer pals and this is something THEY need.

Please alert me to any pre-orders....

Sunday, June 25, 2006


In odd bits of time for the past week or two, I've been frantically sneaking books, trying to keep ahead of the school kids I've been librianing for. There are holes in my reading knowledge above the picture book arena (and in it, too. I'm only human!), and I feel like I have a summer reading list like so many kids. This week, with jury duty looming, I've been trying to think what book(s) would be best/most amusing/worst to carry into the room as attorneys decide if I'm to be selected. Certain books would likely help gain me a seat on the jury. But I imagine if I brought in Everybody Poops and kept laughing hysterically.... Well, it's a fun game to play. But the truth is, I'll simply bring my yellow pad and get some work done.

BTW, for all the latest goings on at the ALA Convention in New Orleans (or if you just want to be amused), head on over to the always entertaining Fuse #8 for on-the-spot reportage (like her post today on suitcase clogging swag). Gooooood stuff.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Search Fib (III)

It amazes me just how many different ways folks search the web, the blogosphere, and their own computers. Frankly, though, it's perfect for someone like me, as it helped put an end to my "one syllable problem." Now, I'm not saying my Search Fibs are great poetry (or even poetry at all!), but I particularly like thinking about the confused look that must have crossed many of these searchers' faces when they found themselves here. So consider these Fibs a way of sharing that amusement. And now, more search terms that have gotten folks to GottaBook, presented in Fib form...

Pull it sir prizes
Frisbee written in Japanese

Friday, June 23, 2006

I missed it!

It turns out yesterday was GottaBook's four month anniversary.

Four months? Wow.

It's safe to say a lot has happened in these parts since I started blogging, and I'm glad to have so much company for the ride. Some of you pre-Fib readers will remember my occasional musings about finding a "tone" for the blog and wondering what I might end up talking about. I'm STILL thinking about those issues, but at least I can see, content-wise, how having actual adventures in writing a book, working with an editor, re-writing, re-writing, re-writing, and sometimes re-writing will be good fodder. But really, right now in looking at things, all I can really say for sure is...

Four months????


It's so nice...

... when other folks do all the work, then I get to blog about it.

Kelly not only runs Big A little a but she puts together The Edge of the Forest, a monthly collection of articles, interviews, and reviews all pertaining to children's literature. The June/July issue has gone online today, and I've already spent my morning coffee time reading... and I'm sure I'll be back again on my next coffee break. Go ahead and check it out for some fine reading.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The top 25 nouns!

Oh, baby, the excitement. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary has announced the top 25 nouns (as in the "most often used"). Using the Oxford English Corpus (lots of real words tracked), the top 25 nouns are...

time, person, year, way, day, thing, man, world, life, hand, part, child, eye, woman, place, work, week, case, point, government, company, number, group, problem, fact.

There is some controversy, of course. Many believe that "part" has been taking performance enhancing drugs in an attempt to move up the list. Also, "death" and "taxes" maintain there is a cultural bias that keeps them off the list. Nonetheless, I present the list without editorial comment, as I know that you can barely contain your excitement at seeing it.

(related article right here)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

And now what?

For the first time this year, I didn't read to kids on a Wednesday morning (oh, wait. There was one week off for Spring vacation. Ignore that week, please). You'd think that means I got to sleep in, but as fate would have it I woke up startlingly early and, believe it or not, cleaned my desk as opposed to using that as a mid-day procrastination.

I decided to use the now-free reading time to think about all the best picture books I'd read this year, to see what I could learn (again) for my own writing. I'd definitely say I learned that there were some wicked good ideas I wish I'd had. But I also (yet again) came back to the importance of word choice, the way the best picture books have art and text that work together as more than the sum of their parts, and the fact that when push comes to shove, I love "funny." Yeah, I know. You're shocked about that last one.

I also did that overview for another reason: to sum up my thinking before taking a wee break from picture books. You see The 14 Fabulous Fibs isn't going to be a picture book. Even though the same writing lessons apply across the board, I didn't want to focus too much on any one mode of thinking. Besides, now all that good stuff is percolating in my brain and... hmmm... that reminds me that it's time for a cup of coffee, so I gotta book.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Well lookie here...

The Southern California region of the SCBWI publishes a quarterly newsletter called Kite Tales, and as of the Spring issue this year, that newsletter is available online. Not only is it full of updates about area writers and news, but it's got market information galore as well as interesting articles and more. The Summer issue has just gone online, and among the "more" in this issue happens to be a poem of mine. Longtime blog readers will recognize it as my poem Reasons Why I Don't Write, aka my third post ever!

I have tended to keep my poems grouped by collection and have not sent out individual ones in general (and yes, a voice in the back of my head says "that's not a strategic decision, Gregory K. That's laziness!" But in truth, it really is a choice I've made). But I am thrilled to have this poem appear in Kite Tales, and in thinking about it, I realize this is my first poem in print since my high school literary magazine! Yow. That was, uh, four years ago AT LEAST! Actually, I'd do the math and tell you how many, but, wouldn't ya know it, I gotta book.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The end of the 48 Hour Book Review Challenge...

Mother Reader has posted the "winners" of her 48 Hour Book Review Challenge. Where? Right Here! Frankly, I think all the rest of us are the winners here. A ton of reading went on this weekend, and anyone interested in finding some good books for kids in, say, 4th grade on should really check that post and head on out to the reviewers linked there. Great stuff indeed. Read on... and tell those reviewers to get some sleep!

Fib sighting

Besides my upcoming Fib related book, I see that Fibs made another jump outside of the online world. Sadly there's no link to the article, but there's a sidebar column about Fibs in the current issue of Seed magazine.

Pretty darn cool to see Fibbery continuing to spread....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day?

I am not a big fan of the made-up-need-to-be-singled-out kinda holidays, but I don't really call myself a curmudgeon. So in the spirit of the day, let me wish Dads tremendous happiness.

As a recent Scholastic-Yankelovich report showed that reading drops off after the age of 8... but that parents can have a huge impact on that. Reading aloud is great as is letting your kids see you read. So Dads, continue showing your kids the right way to live... and READ!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Books, I tell ya.

Just like June itself, reviews are busting out all over as part of Mother Reader's 48 Hour Book Review Challenge.

I don't really review books here, but I guess the closest I come is in mentioning library read-alouds. So, in what will likely be the last list until the fall...

And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street - Dr. Seuss
Learning to Fly - Sebastien Meschenmoser
A Giraffe and a Half - Shel Silverstein
Traction Man is Here - Mini Grey
Oh, the Places You'll Go - Dr. Seuss

It's a gorgeous summer day here, and while I could say "I'm off to great places, I'm off and away" instead I'll just say that I gotta book.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A poetic challenge

OK, work with me here. It's Poetry Friday. But it's also the start of something else that a lot o' my online pals are doing, so I have tried to combine the two....

Looking for some weekend plans?
I’ll tell you what to do…

Gather up a mound of books
(Or maybe gather two).

Sit yourself down on your couch
Or try the park or zoo,

Then read for hours -- 48!
(It needn’t be straight through.)

Yes, Mother Reader challenged folks
To try out something new...

So join your fellow bloggers and review, review review!

If you can forgive the doggerel, it's just to point out that today marks the start of the 48 Hour Book Review Challenge. That link'll get you to the "rules," and you can also see a list of participating bloggers. Let's just say there's gonna be a lotttttt of book reviews posted over the weekend, and I hope to make a nice summer reading list out of the top picks.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thanks for all the congrats/good wishes both on and off blog. I wanted to comment on the e-mail that surprised me most... wherein the writer was concerned that my collecting a mailing list meant the end of GottaBook. Nahhhhhhhhhhh. Y'all are stuck with me! You hang around these parts you'll still get poetry and Oddaptations (like one coming up next week) and Fibs and library stories and anything else that comes to mind.

Plus, you get the added bonus of hearing a writer discuss how his project is wonderful/horrible/frustrating/satisfying/pointless/exciting/terrifying sometimes all at once. It's just that folks on the mailing list will likely get a slightly more concentrated dose of Fibbishness.

So no panic is necessary :-)

That said, now I gotta book.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Fib news: I gotta book deal!

I’m utterly, totally thrilled to say that yours truly has a two book deal with the wonderful folks at Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic). Now, for those of you in the kid-lit world, you’ll understand when I say that I feel as if I won the lottery. And for those who don’t know of Arthur and his remarkable cohorts, the bottom line is that I’ll be working with people from whom I’ll learn an incredible amount and who will always make sure I deliver the best possible book I can deliver.

And what will that first book be, I hear you ask? Well, I can tell you that the working title is…

The 14 Fabulous Fibs of Gregory K.

Yes, there will be Fibs in it, but it won’t just be a book of Fib poetry. We’re talking story and character and all that good stuff. For more than that little tease, though, you’re gonna have to stick around to see how things develop. Or for updates, why not e-mail me and let me know you want to be on the Fib mailing list? Excellent.

This deal, I have to say, is a testament to the power of bloggers and the Net. Yes, the Levine Books folks knew me before Fibs, and I knew them thanks to SCBWI conferences and me submitting (and them liking but rejecting) my work. I believe we’d’ve worked together at some point, regardless of Fibs. HOWEVER, the wonderful Fibbing of friends, family and a few blogging pals set the stage for the remarkable Fibbery of the Slashdotters. From there, Fibs spread through the Net… and the buzz ended up getting me in the New York Times (a mere two weeks after the first Fib post!). After that, Arthur came to me with a brilliant pitch and voila… there’s a book with Fibs in the future.

I know the Times article and book deal would not have happened without the Net activity before it, so, I truly, truly thank all of you who Fibbed and linked and pointed others this way, be you bloggers, poets, mathematicians, teachers,,, Word Freaks, gamers, actuaries, musicians, librarians, knitters, or something else entirely. And I also hope some of you are inspired: watching a mention on Slashdot create the opportunity for a kids' book deal (with poetry!), you start to realize that thanks to the Net, almost anything is possible.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Who knew?

So, we're approaching the end of the school year... which normally wouldn't mean all that much to me. But this year, well, I find that I've rejiggered my schedule to make sure I get in to read one last time to every class in the school. I've talked here often of how we've built a library this year (now of over 10,000 books) and how the kids love it, but there is absolutely no question that it's been a transforming experience for me, as well. Best project I've worked on in Hollywood, as I often say. And while it'll be great for the kids when we finally get a true librarian, I have a feeling I'm gonna be doing read-alouds for a long time to come.

Who knew?

A few more of the books read this year:

The Recess Queen -- Alexis O'Neill. Illus. by Laura Huliska-Beith
The Scrambled States of America -- Laurie Keller
Starry Messenger -- Peter Sis
Polka Bats -- Calef Brown
The Best Pet of All -- David LaRochelle. Illus. by Hanako Wakiyama
When Everybody Wore a Hat -- William Steig


Some of you "longtime" GottaBook readers -- and by that I mean those who read me back in the dark ages before there was a single link to Fibs on the right of the blog -- may recall my an...tici... excitement about the launch of Fibs. Yes? Good. Both of you who remember can stay after class and clean my desk with me. The point is, however, that I'm once again teasing y'all about something that excites me greatly... and will be appearing here in the cyber-pages o' my blog sooooooooooooooon. Is it Fib related? Is it poetic? Is it library related? Is it a combo?

Only time will tell... so I hope y'all will stick around.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sippy Cups Rock!

Lest you think GottaBook has suddenly become a site reviewing the options for children to drink from, please note that I was actually referring to the band the Sippy Cups who I had the pleasure to see in concert today.

Now, I'm not gonna start reviewing children's music on a consistent basis or anything like that (try zooglobble or Chilren's Music that Rocks for lots o' kid music fun), but the Sippy Cups were a blast: juggling, comedy, original songs, and wonderfully picked (slightly re-jiggered) rock covers (Blitzkreig Bop and Space Oddity as two that had the kids dancing or enraptured, depending). It's a great mix, cuz, for example, when parents start bopping and shouting out "Hey, ho, let's go!" you can be darn sure the kids will, too. Good times... and good night!

Search Fib II

Yes, another Fib made of search terms that brought folks here. I'm noticing that the one syllable ones are, well, identical to last time. Hmmm. If that continues, I'll probably have to re-evaluate the idea. I'm particularly tickled by the searches that find me via typo, so I've included one here...

Pink Floyd’s great question
Yesterday today tomorrow

Friday, June 09, 2006

Books and bands mashed...

I ran into this on Fuse #8's blog first, and it's well worth passing along here:

Booking Bands

What's that, you ask? Well, it's a great list of new titles you get when you mash a book name and a band name together. You get things like...

The Reverend Horton Heat Hears a Who
Horton Hears The Who
One Fish, Two Fish, Hootie and the Blowfish

(those are credited to Aaron Kelly, Jason Caldeira, and Ryan Miller, btw)

There are tons of hilarious mash ups at that above link, including many with a children's lit bent, so I'm not even off-topic in posting. But I'd've posted anyway cuz it made me laugh....

A Fish Story (a Poetry Friday poem)

Wow. Two weeks in a row here with a poem on Poetry Friday. Rockin'. I happen to be up late working, and I ran into this in a folder where I wasn't expecting to see poetry. Seems like as good a reason as any to put it on the blog, don'tcha think? Maybe I should work late every Thursday....

Gregory K.

I caught myself a fish today.
It’s almost four feet long.
It’s green and red with shiny scales.
Its teeth are mighty strong.

I wish this fish could talk to me.
That really would be cool.
'Cause I know what I’d ask it first...
“How’d you get in my pool?”

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Making a list...

People make Top 10 lists or Top 100 lists or Top Whatever lists all the time, but whenever they're matter-of-opinion lists as opposed to purely statistic-based, well, that's when it's fun. I mean, we can argue all day who the best baseball hitter EVER was, but there's no way to really debate who has the highest career average.

Anyway, in response to some other recent listmaking, Fuse #8 is asking for suggestions for the Top 25 American Children's Books of the Last 25 Years. You can read her brief rules and then post your ideas, too (as many did in the first, less defined post on the topic).

This not only promises to be fun, but for me (and maybe y'all?) it's also gonna be a good place to pick up some new book ideas, as I'm sure there'll be plenty of titles tossed out that I either don't know or have forgotten about. So check it out and chime in!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Oh, goodie.

Yes, today blogger was giving some of us problems, and I learned a very valuable lesson: I might as well face it, I'm addicted to blog.

This probably comes as no surprise either to people who know me OR to people who blog. And now, of course, that blogger's working, I gotta book. Go figger.

Recent library read-alouds:

Terrific -- Jon Agee
Bark, George -- Jules Feiffer
Knuffle Bunny -- Mo Willems
Leonardo the Terrible Monster -- Mo Willems

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A comment on a comment

A see that the post Fibs are Fab has now hit 100 comments as well (joining The Fib and More Fibbery), with the latest comment being a self-referential Fib, no less.

At one point, I had planned to count all the Fibs written on the blog, but it's pretty clear to me that even though I'm a professional crastinator, I will not likely find the time to get a full count. An estimate? Somewhere over 700 but under 1000. And of course, that's just here on this blog. Quite an outpouring, I must say. Fib on!

Fits and starts

I've started a new post to the blog about half a dozen times since the last post. Then I've either run out, gotten busy elsewhere, or decided the post was blah-worthy, not blog-worthy. Then I realized that I'm working on a manuscript and going through the exact same process: starting, stopping, editing, going on tangents... then lather, rinse, repeat.

The great thing about blogging, though, is that a self-referential post is still a post. Writing about this in my manuscript... not so swell.

Regardless, I blame it on June. When I figure out why it's June's fault, I'll let you know.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The first Search Fib

I've seen other folks mention odd searches that have brought people to their blog, so I thought I'd share a couple of ways people have found me. But why not do it in Fib form? But of course! I've included the original punctuation that was with each search, as appropriate. And if anyone knows what, exactly, that last person was searching for, I'm all ears. So, from the last week, I present you with my first "Search Fib." (Now edited for syllabic correctness!)

"Les Fibs"
"Baseball book"
"Back up or backup?"
And... "the inventor of beer: mop"

Sunday, June 04, 2006


While we have not been reduced to sitting around in our bones ala the Shel Silverstein poem, it's been mighty hot here in LA this weekend. So I started wondering if there was a "hot day" book that was kinda the equivalent of Ezra Jack Keats "Snowy Day." Not a "my day at the beach" book, mind you, but something with that feeling of joyous exploration/new worldness... but in this case all about excessive heat, sweat glands, and a sun so bright you get burned by even thinking about it. Anyone got one? No? Huh. And here I thought there was a book about everything....

In the meantime, here's a few of the recent library read-alouds:

Ah - Josse Goffin
Say Hey!: A Song of Willie Mays - Peter Mandel. Illus. by Don Tate
Duke Ellington -- Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illus. by Brian Pinkney
Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride - Pam Munuz Ryan. Illus. by Brian Selznick

Friday, June 02, 2006

Tuxedowacky -- A Jabberwocky Parody

Kelly at Big A little a started a Poetry Friday blogging "tradition" not long ago. I haven't been as active a participant as I'd like, as you can see if you look at her previous Friday posts with links to those who joined in the fun. But this morning when I saw that Bookshelves of Doom had gone with Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky for the day, wellllll... I have dusted off a parody of the Jabberwocky I once did and post it as my contribution to Poetry Friday. So with apologies to Mr. Carroll (and to you all for one particular stanza I still don't love!)....

Gregory K.

‘Twas bluish with a ruffled shirt,
Did shine and shimmer in the light.
The glare from patent shoes did hurt
All through that special night.

Beware the rented tux, my son!
The pants that make you look rotund.
Beware the large lapels and shun
The overstretched cumberbund.

He took his high school love in hand.
Long time this moment had he sought.
He’d driven far in Mom’s old car,
Now stood awhile in thought.

And as in nervous thought he stood,
The rented tux, with cuffs too wide,
It taunted quite the best it could
And made him go inside.

One, two! One, two! “Okay. You’re through.”
A picture taken at the door.
The day’s now past. The photos last,
Preserving evermore.

And has thou worn the rented tux
With too short arms, my poor, poor boy?
Indeed, it’s true. Bow tie askew --
The pictures bring no joy.

‘Twas bluish with a ruffled shirt,
Did shine and shimmer in the light.
The glare from patent shoes did hurt
All through that special night.

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Thursday, June 01, 2006


I love to learn new words, as I think does every writer. But sometimes, a word is just so perfect. In reading the news about this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee, it turns out that the word that knocked out the second place speller was "weltschmerz." I'd never heard of it, but it means, per the article, "sadness over the evils of the world."


Great to have one word that sums that feeling up. Weltschmerz. I'll remember it now... and hope that I never have a need to use it.

My hat is tipped to all the remarkable Spelling Bee spellers... and with that, I'll proofread this for the 3,000,000th time and hope I didn't make any mistakes.

Busy, busy.

The combination of (gasp) work, end of the school-year stuff, and upcoming summer has kept your GottaBook host running around wildly. Today, with hopes of another post later, I bring you a couple links to keep you busy:

MotherReader has more info on her 48 Hour Book Challenge.

Jen Robinson has a great list of Cool Girls from Kid Lit. Folks are still suggesting names, by the way. Great reading list as well.

Don Tate talks about Black males in children's books. Good list and good comments there.

And finally, I'm happy to join other bloggers in welcoming Esme Raji Codell to the blogosphere. Her blog looks like it'll be offering tons of great reading/read-aloud suggestions, so I'm looking forward to following it and finding lots and lots of gems.

More later, but now I gotta book.