Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sights and Sites

I'm heading off to Washington D.C. and the Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference. I even have a few hours for some D.C. sight-seeing fun, something I always love. Since I can't take you all with me, I thought I'd give you some site-seeing ideas instead:

30 Poets/30 Days alum April Halprin Wayland's new site is up and running. Join her there and celebrate her new book, New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story, too.

I mentioned my own new site yesterday, but I'll take another opportunity to send you over to The Happy Accident. I'll be talking about social media over there, while still talking children's books and poetry over here. Sometimes, no doubt, the topics will mix! I hope you'll come check it out.

Finally, why not head over to Lin Oliver's site? Lin is an incredibly funny writer and speaker, as well as being one of the founders of the SCBWI, an organization I strongly urge folks to check out (assuming you're interested in writing or illustrating for children, that is!). Not only that...

A handful of years back, I had a meeting with Lin about a TV project, but conversation quickly and serendipitously turned to children's books. By the time I left the meeting, I was a member of SCBWI. Within a year, I was at my first conference, meeting editors, writers, and illustrators and knowing for sure that this whole writing for children was something I had to pursue. Happy accidents, indeed....

So, thanks Lin! Now everyone off to her site... and I'll see you back here next week!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Made-up Words

Today, over at my new site, The Happy Accident, I've defined a brand new word: confrustewilderation. I've had fun making up words before, but I realized it's usually something I've done when I'm writing poetry. And, of course, poets have been doing that for a lonnnnnng time now.

So then I got to thinking: what are some of my favorite made up words (that aren't mine)?

I settled on two, and you probably won't be shocked that one is from Dr. Seuss. I coulda picked from many (nerd, perhaps?), but I've chosen "Grinch" because it is such a perfect description of someone who is... well... who's a grinch!

I also love Edgar Allen Poe's "tintinnabulation" from his poem, The Bells (excerpt below):
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Since today is Poetry Friday (with the round-up of posts hosted over at Irene Latham's Live. Love. Explore!), I picked my made-up words from poetry and verse. Still, I'd love it if you leave me a comment featuring your favorite made-up words... no matter the source!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Charles Ghigna - The 'If-You-Were' Poem

If You Were My Book
Charles Ghigna

If you were the pages of my book
And I were reading you,
I’d read as slow as I could go
So I never would get through.

I've been looking forward to putting up this post for more than a month now, ever since Charles Ghigna sent it to me. It's got some of his original poetry, which makes me very happy, and just like when his A Poem Is... appeared in 30 Poets/30 Days, there was more poetry than I could fit in a post! Sorry about that (though you have my word on it all being faboo). Plus, this post is a writing prompt, something I am often not clever enough to come up with myself.

These are fun, fun poems to write, and I hope you'll all give it a try (or give it to students to try). And please... feel free to leave your poems in the comments here at GottaBook.

And with that from me, I say "take it away, Father Goose!"

The If-You-Were Poem
by Charles Ghigna (Father Goose)

The If-You-Were poem consists of 4 lines (quatrain) and 2 rhymes (lines 2 & 4). It contains 2 comparisons (metaphors), one for the “I” of the poem and one for the “you.”

Instructions: Think of a person you like. Compare that person to some thing (inanimate object). Now compare yourself to some thing associated with the first object.


If you were a shining star
And I were your midnight,
I’d let you shine above me,
You’d be my only light.

If you were a scoop of ice cream
And I were an ice cream cone,
I’d put you on my shoulders
And hold you for my own.

If you were a grand piano
And I were a sweet love song,
I’d let your keys tickle and tease
My melody all day long.

Just for the fun of it, you might want to reverse the process and write an If-I-Were poem!

If I were a bumblebee
And you were a buttercup,
I’d buzz around until I found
Your bright face looking up.

If I were the autumn wind
And you were a maple tree,
I’d lift your leaves with a gentle breeze
And hold them close to me.

If I were a lonely lighthouse
And you were a ship at sea,
I'd shine my light all through the night
Till you returned to me.

These poems also make great Valentines. Try writing one for each of your friends and family members. The titles of your poems can be your friends' and family members’ names. You might want to make a little book of them and decorate it with your drawings.

Have fun writing, drawing and sharing!

For more examples of the If-You-Were poems, please see the book If You Were My Valentine by Charles Ghigna (Simon & Schuster, 2005)

For a list of other poem formats, please visit the Classroom Fun section of Charles Ghigna's website!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Question and a Tease

This morning at around 7:00 AM, the helicopters started circling. Sounds dramatic, I know, but in this case it was nothing more than the L.A. Marathon beginning. I've spoken with many folks who've run marathons, so I understand that desire... but I started to wonder if there are any good books for kids on the topic of marathons, either the history or compelling individual stories, or...? I came up with none on my own, but if y'all know of any, I'd love to hear about 'em!

As for the tease... I'm excited because Wednesday, Charles Ghigna returns to GottaBook with some poetry AND a poetry "prompt" and/or teaching idea. It's been a long time since I've had one of those here at GottaBook, and I'm really looking forward to it (plus I'd read Charles Ghigna's poetry any day!). I hope to see you all then!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Baseball + Poetry = Bardball!

As baseball great Yogi Berra once said, "It's like deja vu all over again!" Last Friday, I posted my original father-son-baseball poem A Perfect Game. This Friday, I'm pointing you to it again, but in a totally different place. Where, you ask?

On Bardball!

Bardball's sub-heading is "Reviving the Art of Baseball Doggerel" and as a lover of the game and the poetry around it, I was instantly a fan. Go on over and poke around for awhile. Find poems about your favorite team or maybe even a favorite player. Or go on over and leave the exact same comments on my poem there that you left me here! The idea is to have some fun and check it out. Just be sure to grab your popcorn, peanuts, and cracker jacks....

Then don't forget to check out the Poetry Friday roundup, hosted over at Susan Taylor Brown's blog. You'll find original poetry and so much more from around the Kidlitosphere. Good times, indeed.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Twittering away....

I have to say, I've been having a lot of poetic fun on Twitter, even with National Poetry Month over. It's not all children's poetry specific - in fact, most of it isn't - but it's not like that really creates a barrier to conversation: it's poetry! Plus, Twitter's how I ran across this Lewis Carroll poem. Oooh. Who wants to take up that form as a poetry prompt?

A bunch of us have been chatting every Thursday night (9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific, with details here), and poet/novelist Colin Kelley put together a great list of poets on Twitter, so I've met even more cool folks.

There are also great lists of YA authors on Twitter, picture book authors on Twitter and even a new list of middle grade authors on twitter.

If you're tweeting, I hope you'll find me on Twitter or let me know here, cuz it's not like I'm going anywhere. I'm just saying there's good times to be had! Although right now, I must admit sleep sounds like the best time of all right now, so I gotta book....

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Up Late Update

Last night - or this morning, really - I was up til 2:30. Unfortunately, I think it was a caffeinated-not-decaf coffee issue, but as I was lying in bed wide awake, I was flashing back to nights when I was up at the same time by choice... reading.

I know that the last book that I read waaaay past my bedtime was Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday. I like to say I simply had to finish it because someone else was reading it, too, and would need it back in the morning... but that'd be stretching the truth. I was reading late cuz I was having a blast.

I know I'm not the only one who has found themselves pushing bedtime later and later... so what about you? What was the last book that kept you up late? Seems like a list-worthy topic to me, so drop me a note or a comment and let's see what we come up with!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Perfect Game - a baseball poem/a father-son poem

Gregory K.

Tonight we’re at a baseball game:
The minors (double A).
But I don’t care! it’s me and Dad -
My siblings stayed away!
My soda couldn’t be more flat.
My Cracker Jacks taste old.
The peanut vendor never came.
My hot dog caught a cold.
But Dad and I are having fun.
In fact, it’s quite a blast.
We’re talking, laughing, telling tales
As innings move on past.
He tells my why he loves the game,
Each hit, each out, each run.
I tell him why I don’t like math.
He says "Like Dad, like son."
I tell him that I had a crush,
How weak it made my knees.
He tells me how he met my mom
And when to try a squeeze.
I ask about a stolen base
And why folks like to dance.
He tells me tales of baseball greats
And all about romance.
Dreams, home runs, and silly jokes –
They all come up, and more.
Tonight we’re at a baseball game...
And we’re not keeping score.

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!

Also, it's Poetry Friday! Kelly Polark is hosting over at her blog, and you can click here for the roundup post. Go on over and check out what else is going on, poetically, in the Kidlitosphere today....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Triple the good-osity

If you're not already familiar with Guys Lit Wire, there's a mighty fine reason to go check them out. GLW's mission has always been to bring great books to the attention of teenage boys. Now it's going one step further than just reviewing/posting/talking - they're having a Book Fair! Specifically:

Today we start the first two week Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Boys to help the teens incarcerated in the LA County Juvenile Justice System. They have no books - at all - and they need them; they need them desperately.

There is much more information in this announcement post, and I hope you'll go check it out.

Also, of the good-osity variety... I'm gonna toss out another mention of the Bridget Zinn Auction. I know I mentioned it before, but there is a ton of new stuff up for bid. Yes, lots of great gift items, but also things like lifetime membership in the Children's Book Insider Clubhouse, website design, social media planning, and critiques from writers and actual EDITORS. Don't believe me? See for yourself!

And finally... today, Fuse #8 posted the number one picture book based on her poll. Go see what it was... and tell me if you're surprised. I got that right... though was off on so many others that it wasn't funny! Anyway, it's a fab and fascinating list of 100, and I'm looking forward to her final notes in days ahead.

More soon... but I gotta book!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Umpteen choices....

It's a simple question, really, but I am a simple fellow, so I'll ask it anyway: what's your favorite made up number?

I mentioned "umpteen" on a Facebook update earlier today and have already been "countered" with bajillion and gadjillion (and their root, jillion), as well as eleventy, dubbed "the funniest number ever." Hmmmmmm.

I'm sticking with umpteen as my favorite non-number number, but here among my fellow writers, teachers, and poets I hope to learn of many more. Let me hear your number... and let's see if I get umpteen comments!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Zooming through Poetry Friday!

Well, now, this was unexpected - I lift my head up and Poetry Friday is almost done! Still, there's time to shoot you to a couple links:

First... my very own Mother's Day poem here on GottaBook!

Second... the Poetry Friday roundup hosted over at Anastasia Suen's Picture Book of the Day.

And that's it, other than noting that I'll be going to one of my favorite forms of "poetry" tomorrow - a baseball game. Good times. Good times.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Ongoing goings-on

Have any of y'all been following Fuse #8 as she lists the results of her Top 100 picture books poll? It's mighty fine stuff. She's up to number 8... but number 11 held a very soft spot in my heart. Are your favorites up yet?

Also... a yearly event returns! It's Children's Book Week next week. The Children's Book Awards will be announced in conjunction with the week on May 13th.

And MotherReader has announced the Fourth (!!!!) Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge for June 5-7th. How much you gonna read? (BTW... M.R. is a stop on the Chicken Butt blog tour. Would I make that up? No. Of course not!)

Finally... there's a new blog in town (okay... there are many) that's well worth checking out: Booklights over at the PBS Parents site. You'll see some familiar faces over there (well, familiar to me!) and get a ton of great info, too.

There's more, of course, but now I gotta book. I've got some blog reading to do!

Monday, May 04, 2009

What's next?

April's done, and it's time to look forward here at GottaBook. I have to say that the only downside I can find so for to 30 Poets/30 Days is that my blog content isn't gonna match that level of quality/quantity again any time soon!

Still, although I won't likely be posting every single day, there will be poetry, as mentioned Friday, both mine and others! And there will be anecdotes and ruminations and talk of my wild adventures, as well as links to the cool stuff other Kidlitospherians are doing AND perhaps even an Oddaptation or two. Plus, there are events coming up to talk about. And... well...

A lot of y'all are new readers here either through the "poetry only" email list (available over on the right hand side of the blog) or by reading/subscribing to the whole blog after finding it during April. I'd love to hear from you about what you'd like to see here. I have a lot of fun at GottaBook and want to make sure it's not just me! So feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me if you've got ideas.

Finally today, I want to send you all off to an online auction to help a fellow writer/blogger, Bridget Zinn. Bridget got an agent in February... then a cancer diagnosis (plus a marriage proposal!) shortly after. Friends of hers have put together an auction to help Bridget with medical bills, and many of us in the Kidlitosphere have offered up items to help. (Have I ever mentioned what a great community the children's lit bloggers are? True!) Anyway, there are many signed books available as well as original art, manuscript critiques and other services great for writers/illustrators/others. It's win-win, really - get something you want (or want to give someone) and help at the same time. I hope you'll check it out and/or stop by Bridget's blog (where her wonderful attitude is on display despite the adversity) and wish her well.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Thirty Poets/One Day (or, wrapping it all up)

It had to happen - National Poetry Month and the first ever 30 Poets/30 Days are done. I'd be sad, but I just can't be when I look at what happened here this month. To review:

Jack Prelutsky - A Little Poem For Poetry Month
Rebecca Kai Dotlich - Midnight Stray
Charles Ghigna - A Poem Is...
X. J. Kennedy - Ladder to the Moon
Ann Whitford Paul - Owl
Jaime Adoff - Rock n Roll Dad
Marilyn Singer - In the Museum
Adam Rex - The Flight Before Christmas
Joyce Sidman - Spring is the Time
Bruce Lansky - Rules for Spot
Avis Harley - Perfect Pitch
Nikki Grimes - All Eyes
Lee Bennett Hopkins - SPRING
Linda Sue Park - Villanelle: Why I Love Libraries
Mary Ann Hoberman - I Dreamt I Saw a Dinosaur
Betsy Franco - Me and Joe Lining Up After Recess
Jon Scieszka and Emily Dickinson - 200 Typing Monkeys Almost Make It
Kristine O'Connell George - Skeleton at Dinner
Arnold Adoff - n o justice n o p e a c e
Jane Yolen - My Teacher
Gregory K. - I Went to the Farm Where Spaghetti Is Grown
Janet Wong - My Green Grandfather
Nikki Giovanni - My Sister and Me
J. Patrick Lewis - The Poet of the World
Julie Larios - No Strings Attached
Joan Bransfield Graham - I am the Poem
Kenn Nesbitt - My Chicken's On The Internet
April Halprin Wayland - How to Read a Poem Aloud
Douglas Florian - kinda, sorta
Pat Mora - Books & Me

At the halfway point, I said "Wow!" I stand by that statement here at the end, too :-)

There are so many people to thank in regards to 30 Poets/30 Days, and many of them have been mentioned here before. So for today, I'll break it down into three groups - my family and friends, offline and online, for answering logistical questions, showering the project with link love, and brainstorming ways to spread the word; all the poets for showing such amazing generosity and support; all of you for reading along this month. You're the reason we're here!

Now, I must add that at GottaBook, I celebrate poetry year round, so the end of this month only means there won't be a poem EVERY day. But there will be new poetry here in the weeks and months ahead. Some will be by me, of course, but there will be surprises, too. So if you're new to these parts, I do hope you'll stick around. And if you've already been sticking around for awhile... well... yay and thanks! And just think... it's only 11 months until the NEXT National Poetry Month.

Finally, it's Poetry Friday! Why not head over to Maya Ganeson's blog allegro and check out the roundup of poetry posts. April's over, but the Kidlitosphere poetically rocks on....

More on Monday but for now, I gotta book!