Friday, December 29, 2006

A bit of looking forward....

So, among the many things going on in 2007, I wanted to mention a brief period where I won't be cleaning my desk. And maybe you wanna join me? I'll be at the SCBWI-Ventura/Santa Barbara event The Business of Writing and Illustrating for Children: Cyber-Promotion and School Visits.

I'm going for two reasons: not only do I plan to learn a ton, but I'll also be a guest speaker, talking about blogging as a children's book writer/aspiring writer/blogger. Oh, yeah -- I also know it's going to be an absolute blast.

I hope to see some of you there... but in the meantime, I'm going to go watch our street get jackhammered to smithereens to fix a broken (and geysering) water main. Oh joy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

TIck, tick, ticking....

My goodness -- the end of December and therefore the end of the year just keep on getting closer. Next thing ya know, it'll once again be hard to write a check correctly for a month or two.

It's always an interesting time of year to me -- a time where it's really okay to look backwards, as long as you make sure it doesn't keep you from the more important concept of looking forwards. This year in review for me is writ large in this blog. (And now that I've used the phrase "writ large," I believe I have fulfilled all duties in 2006.) Yes, lots of other "life" happened off blog, but the biiiig stuff was right here, and many of you have lived through some rather dramatic moments of 2006 right alongside me. So as we near the new year, I want to thank so many of you for your friendship, support, links, encouragement, and Fibs. 2007 might not be as downright exciting on this blog (though it MIGHT, ya know), but I look forward to hanging out here with all of you no matter what.

Ahh, heck. Out of time. So, I'll look forward another time (and probably this year), but now I gotta book!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas the blog before Christmas....

I know, I know -- that title makes you think I'm gonna do some parody/variation on the classic Christmas poem. But not this year, sorry to say. Instead, I wish to share with you an article that a longtime FoG (that's friend of GottaBook) sent my way. Some of you may have seen it already, but for me, it was a great holiday (or ANY day) gift:

Saying Yes to Mess

(if the above link no longer works, try this one here.)

For those too busy to click on the above, I share this excerpt:

Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts.

I don't just say "yes." I say "yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!"

Friday, December 22, 2006

I Crawled Out of Bed Today -- a 'feeling sick' poem and a happy vacation poem

Getting a late entry into the Poetry Friday (links collected by Liz B.) arena...

Gregory K.

I crawled out of bed today
And boy, my body aches.
I know I didn’t sleep that well -- I guess I made mistakes.

It feels like I can’t see too straight.
There’s cobwebs in my brain.
Tears are flowing out of me like endless sheets of rain.

I barely have an appetite.
I’m cold, and then I’m hot.
My voice comes croaking out as if my throat’s tied in a knot.

I guess that I don’t have a choice;
I’ll sleep the day away.
But here’s the reason I feel worst...
Vacation starts today.

Wishing all of you happy and healthy vacations!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Searching for seasonal thoughts

Once again, as at many other times of the year, I wish I had the ability to contact folks whose searches lead them to GottaBook. But since I can't, I'd like to share a few seasonal replies right here (for them and for you).

1) No, you're never going to see a grinch in the wild
2) There are no grinches in any zoos in the US
3) Dr. Seuss not Dr. Spock

On a more useful-to-all level, MotherReader cam up with 21 Ways to Give a Book this holiday season (and if you read her blog, you'll find 21 MORE ways, too). Very helpful for those of us not as well equipped in the thinking-of-gifts department.

Thanks to all for the fun suggestions in the post below. If you check the comments of that post and link back to some of the commentors own blogs, you'll see even more suggested gifts. Good stuff, I say with probably a tad of bias....

Monday, December 18, 2006

A list -- gifts you'd get your favorite kidlit characters

All day today, I kept coming up with "fun" ideas for blog contests/lists -- best kidlit posts of the year OR every blogger nominate their own favorite post of the year (that one is easy for me!) OR name the holiday gift you'd get your fellow bloggers OR name who you'd like to see start blogging next year (Mo Willems is not longer a valid choice). In the end, I realized I didn't have the time or energy to do those, and instead would go with a list I've had brewing for awhile, but didn't have time to post earlier: gifts you'd get your favorite kidlit characters. These can be holiday gifts, of course, but there's no reason to limit yourself in any way. Here are a few ideas...

The Pigeon -- a ballpark dog with the works
The Baudelaire children -- a fortunate event
Charlotte -- a thesaurus
Charlie Bucket -- good dental insurance
Harold -- Crayola crayons (a 64 pack, at least)

Now, I've got a lot more, but 'tis the season for y'all (who aren't yet on vacation) to join in. The interesting thing on my list is how many characters I feel like EVERYONE would know, and how many would also need the name of their book(s) spelled out. OK, maybe that's not "interesting" but keep it in mind as you leave your comments. Cheap shots are certainly allowed ("I hope the Hardy Boys get a clue," for example), and heartfelt wishes, too. More later, but for now, I gotta book.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

'Tis the season...

... for holiday parties, end of school parties, b-day parties, and parties just because there's time to have one last party before the end of the year. Today's task involves making a salad to feed 30. That's a lot of leafy greens....

On the upside of all this seasonal stuff, I've now read How the Grinch Stole Christmas enough this year that I'm officially off book, so if any of you need a reader, let me know. Oh yeah, and we stocked our new shelves at the library and now are thiiiiis close to the room functioning the way it did last year, before the move. Perhaps over the school's vacation, unless I spend all my time reading the Grinch.

Some other recent library readalouds:

Hooway for Wodney Wat -- Helen Lester; illustrated by Lynn M.Munsinger
Froggy Gets Dressed -- Jonathan London; illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
The Snowy Day -- Ezra Jack Keats
Wild About Books -- Judy Sierra; illustrated by Marc Brown
Shrek -- William Steig
Everybody Needs a Rock -- Byrd Baylor; illustrated by Peter Parnall

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oh, really?

So, like many a blogger, I get some interesting e-mail sent my way. The most recent was also a first for me: a request to review a site on my blog. It's a shopping site, and there was even an offer of a gift certificate to use on the site (yes, before reviewing it and so I could review the entire process). Seems fair enough. No big deal, other than the fact that I don't review sites on this blog. But what makes this blogable to me is the fact that I was sent this email, it says, because the sender noticed my blog entry about The Polar Express. Yes... this is a Holiday shopping site I'm being asked about.

Again, a second time, the email says "Since you mentioned The Polar
Express, would you be interested in reviewing the website on your blog?"

They were nice enough to include a link to my Polar Express entry.

Here it is!

Now I ask you... would YOU want the author of that post reviewing your site????

I'm a big fan of reaching out to the blogosphere, but I gotta say I laughed pretty heartily. And no, I'm not reviewing the site... but I appreciate the smile.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's wood! It's wood!

Yes, it's a banner day -- I've once again found the top of my desk. What a relief. In the process, I discovered no unpaid bills and no important documents (well, other than photos. Sorry, Mom!). But I did find a few scraps of paper with ideas jotted down on them. My fellow writers know what I'm talking about here: hidden GOLD!

Yes, on these slips of paper, I had written sheer brilliance as inspiration had come to me at random moments (defined here as "moments where the only thing handy was a slip of paper."). Admittedly, it'd been a long time since I'd last cleaned my desk allll the way, but I think my note "boy wizard in wizard school???" is going to be the one that really puts me on the map.

Looking forward, it's a marathon library week for me as we try and get as much done before vacation as possible, so even though I've got a clean desk, I won't be using it much. But that's okay. It also means there's not time to mess it up, and that's gotta be good for something.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Talking about books...

I know, I know -- twice in one day after my "I'm sooooo busy" thing. Eh, you can't believe what you read online anyway. But the thing is, my December Book Talk column is up at, and I wanted to give it a little shout out. "Hi, column!"

Lotta good stuff up at momready, in general, including a very cool "contest" if you have kids in the LA area. Go thataway and check it out.

To do list

Mine just keeps getting longer, the more I work at trying to check things off of it. I need a name for this phenomenon (other than "life," of course). I will add "find a name for phenomenon" to my to do list. I had thought that I'd be one of those folks who didn't find a December slowdown in blog posting or blog reading or blog linking (and there have been some great links I've failed to be timely about, like the Longstockings' Flappies contest and Mitali Perkins' Blog Crushes), but the reality is that I'm gonna be one of those folks who is mildly slowed. Like a flesh wound.

Or I could just make excuses like these cats do, I suppose.

Anyway, if you stick around, I promise there'll be something here. But for now, I gotta book.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Who Reads Your Manuscript -- a poem for writers (and editors)

I wrote the following poem at a recent SCBWI event. Conversation had turned to editors once again, and it was clear that sometimes writers still view the person on the recieving end of a manuscript as a "faceless foe," so to speak. How silly. Editors have faces! Anyway, I've pieced together some knowledge over the last few years, so I thought I'd share it in an attempt to help get rid of some of the mystery of the kidlit business. I know. I know. What a giver!

Who Reads Your Manuscript
Gregory K.

Editors were born to read:
They chose their jobs for love, not greed.
Editors are short on time,
And truly they don’t ALL hate rhyme.
Editors have pets, get wed.
Sometimes they stay home sick in bed.
Editors eat writers, true...
But otherwise, they’re just like you!

Alan Silberberg drew me this book-toon after being inpired by the poem!

(for your procrastinatory pleasure, links to this and other poems here on GottaBook are collected to the right under the headline "The Poems".)

(This week's Poetry Friday links are collected right here by Susan)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Heavy library lifting

When I volunteered to head up an elementary school library, I don't think I ever imagined just how many books I'd carry and cart and lug and haul (let alone read!). Our collection has grown to 10,000 books, but if I count the number of times I've moved each of them around... well, you'd think I'd have bigger biceps.

Once again, we've been rejiggering... adding shelves... bringing in new books... moving the dead-weight reference section just ONE more time. Yet finally, for the first time this school year, things are starting to look more like the library of old. And once again, it's thanks to a hearty crew of volunteers who never cease to amaze. Of course at the end of the day, I don't know who's luckier in all this... we parents who volunteer or the kids we volunteer for. But then again, it probably doesn't matter.

Some of what we've been reading in the library:

Not a Box -- Antoinette Portis
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly -- Simms Toback
The Big Brag -- Dr. Seuss
The 39 Apartments of Ludwig van Beethoven -- Jonah Winter; illus. by Barry Blitt
The Peace Book -- Todd Parr
The Secret Knowledge of Grown-ups -- David Wiesniewski (and yes, it's as big a hit this year as last)
The Three Questions -- Jon J. Muth

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

And then there's this...

I was going to start in on a more thought-provoking type of post, but then ran across a news headline that simply stopped me in my tracks. No, not the possible discovery of recent water flowing on Mars. Don't be silly. I'm talking really IMPORTANT news. If Hollywood wants hit movies, forget that Snakes on a Plane stuff. Here's an idea that's really cooking with gas:

Flatulence on plane sparks emergency landing

Now aren't you glad you stopped by these parts? Don't panic, though, maturity will return before long, but for now I gotta book.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Frantic shopping

Yes, it's that time of year again -- the time where you suddenly remember yet one more person on your list who you were pretty sure you'd bought for but now that you look again... drat, you haven't. Or maybe that just happens around here?

Regardless, Alan Silberberg offers an excellent suggestion courtesy of his latest book-toon.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More, I say. More....

While the Cybils nominating committees keep on reading, other lists and awards for 2006 are coming out. I could link you to all of them, I suppose, but I figger those of you who care enough to see them all probably are way ahead of me. Still, the New York Times list of notable children's books of the year had an interesting overlap with the Horn Book Fanfare List -- Lane Smith's John, Paul, George and Ben. In the Horn Book list it's under non-fiction (unspecified in the NYT). Huh. I admit I hadn't given the categorization much thought, and there certainly are facts sprinkled in... but I am going on record as doubting that Paul Revere every yelled loudly about extra-large underwear.

Elsewhere in linkland, another member of my fab online critique group has joined the blogosphere. Say hi to Brenda! What she doesn't mention on her site is that every penny she gets from her book is going to The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. See... these crit friends of mine are fab in many ways.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oddaptation: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Up until now, when I've Oddapted, you'll note that I don't say much about my own thoughts on the book in question, preferring to leave some mystery in the Oddaptation, I suppose. (To check this claim out AND to find out what Oddaptations are, won't you peek at the links collected to the side of the blog under the headline The Oddaptations? Thanks.) However, in this case, I'll say it: I love the book. Still, the Grinch called out to be Oddapted... but in a somewhat different way than my usual rhyming, attitudinal style. What better way to start December AND greet poetry Friday (links collected handily by Kelly)? OK, maybe there are better ways, but you get no choice!

As always, I'd love to hear suggestions for future Oddaptations, other feedback, and winning lottery numbers.

by Dr. Seuss
Oddaptation by Gregory K.

Don’t worry. He didn’t.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Cybils -- poetry nominees

Continuing in catch up mode, here are the 26 (!!!) books the Cybils' poetry nominating committee will be considering before narrowing it down to five:

The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems
compiled and illustrated by Jackie Morris; various authors
Barefoot Books

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant and Other Poems
written by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Carin Berger
Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins

Blackbeard: The Pirate King
written by J. Patrick Lewis; various illustrators
National Geographic Children's Books

Busy in the Garden
written by George Shannon; illustrated by Sam Williams
Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow
written by Joyce Sidman; illustrated by Beth Krommes
Houghton Mifflin

Castles: Old Stone Poems
written by J. Patrick Lewis and Rebecca Kai Dotlich; illustrated by Dan Burr
Boyds Mills Press

Dear Mr. Rosenwald
written by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Gregory Christie

Flamingos on the Roof
written and illustrated by Calef Brown
Houghton Mifflin

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich 
written and illustrated by Adam Rex
Harcourt Children's Books

The Friendly Four
written by Eloise Greenfield; illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Got Geography!
selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins; various authors; illustrated by Philip Stanton
Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins

written and illustrated by Douglas Florian
Greenwillow Books/ HarperCollins

Hey There, Stink Bug!
written by Leslie Bulion; illustrated by Leslie Evans

I Heard It From Alice Zucchini: Poems About the Garden
written by Juanita Havill; illustrated by Christine Davenier
Chronicle Books

written by Walter Dean Myers; illustrated by Christopher Myers
Holiday House

The Man in the Moon-Fixer's Mask
written by JonArno Lawson; illustrated by Sherwin Tjia
Boyds Mills Press

Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry
written by Joyce Sidman; illustrated by Michelle Berg
Houghton Mifflin

Mites to Mastodons: A Book of Animal Poems 
written by Maxine Kumin; illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin

Once Upon a Tomb: A Collection of Gravely Humorous Verses
written by J. Patrick Lewis; illustrated by Simon Bartram
Candlewick Press

One Odd Day
written by Doris Fisher and Danny Sneed; illustrated by Karen Lee
Sylvan Dell

Rhyme & Punishment
written by Brian P. Cleary; illustrated by J.P. Sandy
Milbrook Press/Lerner

There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me
written by Alice Walker; illustrated by Stefano Vitale

Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Art
written by Diane Siebert; illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson
Chronicle Books ­

What a Day It Was at School!
written by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Doug Cushman
Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins

When the Horses Ride By: Children in the Times of War
written by Eloise Greenfield; illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist
Lee & Low Books

Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku 
written by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis; illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Little, Brown, & Company Books for Young Readers

Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary 
written by Julie Larios; illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Harcourt Children's Books

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More catching up

So, besides not having time for little things like desk-cleaning, I've also been falling behind in pointing out "the good stuff" out in the world.

Like the new Edge of the Forest! You even get an interview with blogging writer Lisa Yee.

I'm also exceedingly happy to point you all over to the Class of 2K7 blog. Over thereabouts, besides answering many other great questions, the Class has taken a crack at my "Why Write For Kids" query. (Yeah, I know. I'm not the only one who's ever asked that).

Here's Part One of the FIVE PARTS! If you click Next Entry at the top o' that post, you'll get the other responses, too. It's goooooooooood stuff. (And again, the Class blog is good reading well beyond these five answers. There be some mighty fine writers over there... which is really no shock when you think about it.)

Now I'm off to FuseNumber8 for what I suspect will be a heap o' time to catch up on all the stuff I must catch up on.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Back, rested, and that means...

It's time to clean my office!

Yes, really. I mean it this time. Not the procrastinatorial cleaning of yore. Oh no, this is the spring cleaning that never was. If any of you out there need some recyclable material, I'm telling ya to come on over and take the detritus away with ya.

Other than that, what does the near term hold here in GottaBook land? I'm excited about the Oddaptation I'll be putting up in December. I hope to have some time to write some poems just for the heck of it. I'm already thinking about ways to fix my first draft (though not regretting sending it off, either). I will also be diving headlong into library projects which I suspect will yield some fun stories. First up, however, solve the car dilemna, answer a near-week's worth of email, and keep trying to stay relaxed.

And now I gotta book -- there's piles of paper here that need to be given a good talking to.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Food is disappearing around these parts at an alarming rate, much of it into my own stomach so I can do my imitation of last night's turkey. On the upside, I have it on good authority that because I turned in a draft of my book, the food is all non-caloric, so I am taking advantage of the situation in a big way.

Like many out there, I'm on semi-vacation for Thanksgiving. And it's great. The burn out factor was high for me -- higher than I realized -- and I'm trying to make up for that with NO writing and basically NO websurfing. Really, it more boils down to no sitting other than for meal times. So I'm missing Poetry Friday, I'm missing out on conversations on my favorite blogs, and I'm looking forward to catching up next week. But for now, I gotta eat some calorie free pecan pie because it's calling my name. Can you hear it?

I knew it! It's not just me!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Eat at the buffet...

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with a great collection of links based on the theme "What are you thankful for in childre's literature?" OK, sometimes it's loosely based, but that's the fun. Yep -- the Carnival of Children's Literature is back!

Anne-Marie is hosting over at A Readable Feast, and I highly recommend heading on over and reading the Carnival (and poking around, too).

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and yours....

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fibs away!

I know I promised a meatier post for today, and here I am squeaking in under the wire. So what, you all ask in unison, is the news?

Today I sent off the first draft of what's still called The 14 Fabulous Fibs of Gregory K. to the fine folks at Arthur A. Levine Books!

Let's hear a "wooo hooooo!" from you all. C'mon people... that was NOT loud enough.

That's better.

OK, sure... it's really only momentous for me -- it's the first draft of my first contracted book -- but so many of you were around from the birth of Fibbery that I definitely take great pleasure in being able to share the moment with you.

But now that our big group hug has dismantled, don't think I didn't hear the whispering. "Is it good?" "What's it about?" "Would you please shave?"

Duh. Not saying. If I have to.

Seriously, I'm far too close to the manuscript to talk about quality or anything like that. Plus to me, it's beside the point right now. Suffice to say that I'm thrilled I've sent it off, and I'm sure I'll get notes back. And frankly, I can't wait. I've often said that I feel like I won the kidbook lottery because I get the luxury of writing something then working with people who I know will help me make it better. I mean... a lot better. I mean, geez, would ya look at the books on the Levine list?!?!?! Yes, I'm a lucky, lucky fellow.

So let's just say I'm going to sleep tonight a happy man. Or more specifically...a happy man who mailed off the first draft of his first book!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Really, now...

I'm far too busy to blog today. Far, far, far too busy.

But I know what you all come here for, so I'm still happy to oblige. I know. Such a giver:

Go play.

A more substantial post (with news, even) tomorrow, but for now, I gotta book

Friday, November 17, 2006

Let's Go Play -- a football poem

Yes, more sports poetry in Fib form here on my Poetry Friday entry (this week's links collected by Susan). This time it's football poetry... stemming from my love of a sport I played alllll the time as a kid until everyone suddenly was much, much bigger than me. Line three would be out for me nowadays, but otherwise...

Gregory K.

It's all good.
Whatever the name,
It’s football! Let's go play a game!

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

(for your procrastinatory pleasure, links to this and other poems here on GottaBook are collected to the right under the headline "The Poems".)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Go thisaway then thataway

My new Book Talk column is up on You can go see more of the books I've been reading, because I know ya want to.

And once you're done there...

Nominating in the Cybils ends on November 20th. Sure, you can nominate in a bunch of categories (and you should!), but please make extra special sure you nominate your favorite children's poetry book of 2006. That's the category for which I'm a judge, ya see, so I want to make sure that the nominating committee doesn't miss a single good 'un. And that's where y'all come in. So...


And now Fibs call, so I gotta book.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A little library business

It's not that I've given up my volunteer librarianship, though you might not realize from recent posts on the blog that I'm still doing it. I have been mucho busy with other stuff (Fibbery, Accordians, Rubik's Cube practice sessions), and haven't had nearly as much time to dig in to the library itself of late OR to write about it.

And I gotta tell you, there's definitely an "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thang going on for me. I can't tell you how much I miss watching the reactions of a group of kids as I read 'em a great book. I've seen that "sparkle" folks talk about when kids get engaged, and it's a jolt. This was never something I would've expected to impact me, so I'm rather grateful I discovered it. It surely shows the power of a good story, and I'm lucky to have a nicely stocked library full of gooooood stuff to read. I will note, too, from a writer's point of view, reading aloud and seeing what works and what doesn't (and in the case of picture books, seeing how the text and pictures work together for the read-ee) has been truly educational. Whether I'm a better writer or not for the experience isn't for me to judge, but I do know I'm a more aware writer.

I know a lot of folks who visit here share my passion for children's books, so I think what I'm saying is that what I've learned means there's many reasons for you to go out and adopt a class or a school and read to 'em. Not that I'm proselytizing or nothing. I'm just saying.

Some of what we've been reading at the library:

The Hungry Coat -- Demi
The True Story of Stellina -- Matteo Pericoli
Bringing Asha Home -- Uma Krishnaswami; illustrated by Jamel Akib
The Dot -- Peter Reynolds
Song of the Swallows -- Leo Politi
Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich -- Adam Rex
The American Story -- Jennifer Armstrong; illustrated by Roger Roth

Monday, November 13, 2006

Should I be proud?

Those of you with blogs might, on occasion, look at your sitemeter or equivalent and see how people get to you. I'm just saying you MIGHT. There's no "might" with me, however. I admit I look. Only on occasion, of course, though keep in mind that "occasion" really is an open-ended term.

Anyway, I recently saw a search term that led someone to my blog. My blog (well, one post anyway) is search result number four for this phrase on the whole Web, according to Yahoo. Should I be proud? Should I be embarrassed? Is Yahoo trying to tell me something... or tell the searcher something?

You be the judge!

Ahhh, I love the Web!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The first Fib Review

The first issue of the fib review is now up! The Review is the brainchild of and edited by R.G. Rader, and I'm pleased to see that a few of the contributing writers are folks who visit these parts on a regular basis. Even if that weren't the case, though, the collected poems show some great uses of the Fib form.

So again, I say check out the fib review.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Oddaptation: The Sneetches

For those who've read prior Oddaptations (helpfully collected to the right of the blog under the headline "The Oddaptations"), you know that synopsis mixes with point of view mixes with whatever I so choose when I do these. This particular attempt to Oddapt Seuss was done some time ago but seems to fit nicely with the news of the week, so here ya go. And happy Poetry Friday (links collected by Nancy)!

by Dr. Seuss
Oddaptation by Gregory K.

For as long as they’d known, all the Star Bellied Sneetches
Had lived as the kings and the queens of the beaches.
The Sneetches with bellies as plain as the day
Lived empty lives teeming with gloom and dismay.

One day a fine chap by the name of McBean
Came by with a Star On and Star Off Machine.
The Plain Bellies paid and were given new stars.
Then Star Bellies paid and removed theirs from thars.

Then in again, out again, stars off and on
Til every last bit of their savings was gone.
McBean rode off laughing. The Sneetches looked sorry:
They no longer knew who'd been plain or been starry.

But then as they stood in the sand of their beaches
They suddenly realized that Sneetches are Sneetches.
Yes, Sneetch-Sneetch relations have truly made progress…
And McBean was last seen making oodles from Congress.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Duck season! Busy season!

It's busy time here in GottaBook land. Approaching holiday seasons haven't even made their impact felt, but I am utterly, totally treading water... and I admit to kinda liking that. Why? Well, it's largely work-ish stuff, including the final stretch on the first draft of 14 Fabulous Fibs!!!! (You can tell it's a first draft because I can't tell you how many Fibs are in it at the moment.) To say I'm excited and nervous about finishing the draft would be a pretty fair assessment. To say at moments I'm terrified and at moments I'm overjoyed would also be fair. To say that I wish the rest of life would stop so that I could focus exclusively on Fibbery would be VERY fair. But alas, that's not to be. Or maybe that's not so alas, really, as it would be mighty dull around here if it were the case.

So, as I lean on my diet rich in the antioxidants found in coffee and chocolate, get ready here on the blog for some Oddaptation action, some poetry, some random musings, and some reminders to go vote at the Cybils. But now, I gotta book and write a book!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Future stuff...

My immediate future, of course, involves getting a different car, but I was thinking more in the bigger picture kinda way when I wrote that title. Recently, I heard Jean Gralley speak about the possible digital future for picture books (which she explores in Books Unbound (which if you haven't seen, you really should)). It's great to see people trying to push a form forward in the digital realm, rather than simply trying to make old rules apply no matter what. I suspect technology is gonna change every aspect of publishing (though not, one hopes, every aspect of storytelling!), so trying to be ahead of the curve... or even on the curve... seems key.

And while still mulling this over, I ran into Ms. Dewey. Now, you'd think this is a library thang, what with the Dewey reference, but instead it's an interesting hybrid of search technology and entertainment. I admit, I laughed quite a few times both at some of the waiting around stuff as well as some of the responses to my search terms (which also brought up perfectly fine search results ala any search engine). Would I use Ms. Dewey if I were in a rush? Nah. Would I use it if I could create a more personalized version of it for folks to use to search my blog? Oh, sure. Would you?

It's fun to think about this type of stuff, though right now I gotta book and deal with far more prosaic life issues... like the fact that I haven't had coffee yet!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A "why write" update...

Thanks to Daphne over at The Longstockings for her reply to the "Why write for kids?" question I posed. That's a blog well worth checking out for those of you who haven't yet had the pleasure.

Thanks, too, to the many who emailed me answers. There's still time to go to the original post and add in your repsonse. Well, there's always time, but I was collecting some of these as conversation starters for an event this coming Wednesday.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Getting Ready -- A Hockey Poem

Sports poetry keeps on popping up here at GottaBook, in this case with me adding to the world's collection of hockey poems (in Fib form). What can I say? I love sports almost as much as I love food, so expect to see more poems on both topics as time goes on. You have been warned. Happy Poetry Friday (with links collected at Big A little a)....

Gregory K.

Face mask.
All I ask...
By all that's holy,
Survive my first game as goalie.

(for your procrastinatory pleasure, links to this and other poems here on GottaBook are collected to the right under the headline "The Poems".)

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!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Work crashes to a halt!

Oooh, quite dramatic sounding, I know, but it's so rare that I blog about something that's not just "the writer's life" type o' stuff that I thought I'd go for the gusto. I mean, I coulda headlined this post "I was in a car accident, but I walked home from the body shop, so clearly it's got a happy enough ending" but then where's the drama? The statement is accurate however, and I only make light of the situation since no one was hurt. Automobile wise, however... well, let's just say I started off driving a mid-size but ended up in a compact.

Being a writer, of course, I feel the need to record the experience. So here in Fib form is a little ditty about my afternoon....

My car
Is renamed:
Once my chariot,
Now my Honda Accordian.

(Please, please, please know that I didn't post this so that you'd all feel compelled to leave a "glad you're okay!" comment, since unless you're totally heartless, of course you're glad. Strangers on the street were glad. The tow truck driver was glad. I'm glad, too, believe me! So, you're off the hook.)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Links and more links, I tell ya.

The Eighth Carnival of Children's Literature is up at Michele's Scholar's Blog. Once again, there's great stuff to be found by clicking those links.

Also, why not journey over to this post at Journey Woman and enter a contest with, gasp, some prizes? Or just go read the post for fun, since the contest is about the best passages from children's literature, and there's some fine stuff posted.

And don't forget my post right below this one, asking "Why write for kids?" I've read some interesting replies in the comments and in my mail, but there's a lotta lurkers hereabouts I'd love to see speak up.

Plus "BOO!!!" and happy Halloween to you all.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Why write for kids?

For those of us who write for children, one question pops up all the time: why kids and not adults? Sometimes this is an internal question, sometimes it's meant as a thought-provoking question, and other times it's asked because the choice to write for kids seems inexplicible to the asker. I am asking here on the blog for another reason: at an upcoming SCBWI Schmooze I co-run, the question of "why write for children?" is part of the topic. I thought since many of you GottaBook visitors write (and illustrate) in the children's literature field, it would be interesting to hear from y'all. I hope you'll leave your reasons here in the comments, on your own blogs, or send them to me via e-mail. I'll compile the comments and links and use them as conversation starters and, I suspect, inspiration for many.

As for my reasons... I wish I had a pithy quote like Madeleine L'Engle who said, “You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grownups, you write it for children.” I share some of that sentiment: you have to write what you have to write. For me, it just so happens that what I "have to" write resonates with a set much younger than me because, I suspect, I still love exploring themes and topics that I explored (in books or simply from living) when I was a kid. That's what I'm drawn to writing about... so I do!

Yes, I happen to think writing for children is a noble calling, and in no way a lesser choice than writing for adults. In fact, I suspect it's a higher calling. But for me, that isn't a factor in what I write, merely a bonus. I consider myself lucky that I happen to have an audience at all... and even luckier that it happens to be largely kids. But the bottom line really is that I have stories to tell, and darn it, I'm gonna tell 'em.

Again, I hope you'll let me know your reasons.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thankful -- A Thanksgiving Poem

Yet another Poetry Friday is here (with this great collection of links courtesy of Liz), and this week I offer up a a little ditty to join the world's collection of Thanksgiving poetry. I figure it's never too early to celebrate the season of eating, football, and giving thanks... GottaBook style.

Gregory K.

You ask me what I'm thankful for....
I hope I don't sound jerky,
But I'm really, truly thankful that I wasn't born a turkey!

(for your procrastinatory pleasure, links to this and other poems here on GottaBook are collected to the right under the headline "The Poems".)

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!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Class is now in session.

I've been remiss in welcoming the Class of 2K7 to the scene, so I want to rectify that before their year arrives. Who is the Class? Why it's a collection of 39 children's and YA authors who have their debut books coming out in 2007. Yowza! It's a huge amount of talent... including two longtime members of my own blogroll... and I betcha contained in their 39 books are gonna be some of THE hottest titles of next year.

Now, not only does the Class have a cool website, but they have a group blog! We non-classmembers get to ask questions there, too, so head on over and poke around and ask. Or ask around and poke. But just go.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rhyme in the news... and it's good news

Here's a rather amazing story from Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. About 18 months ago, he lost his voice due to something called Spasmodic Dysphonia -- from which there is no known cure. Yet per his recent blog post, he has regained his voice... in no small part due to a nursery rhyme!

Read the story to be reminded that the brain and the world are rather remarkable....

A new issue pops up...

No, not one I'm dealing with... I mean the new issue of The Edge of the Forest is up.

Go on: click me!

Read reviews and interviews and features and more, including information about The Cybils. (And hey, why haven't you nominated YOUR favorite children's book of 2006 for a Cybil yet? Many categories to choose from, ya know. No excuses.)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oh, sure. Like I need this NOW???

Yes, of course. Here I am trying to finish up a manuscript, when lo and behold...


And what's Wordy, you ask? A new game. Yes, a new online game that kinda combines my beloved Tetris with my equally beloved Boggle in a frighteningly addictive way. I'm not saying it's better than either of those two superstars of gameliness, of course, but is that ever really the point?

Don't. Click. That. Link.

You have been warned.

Monday, October 23, 2006


So, I'm home writing, when suddenly the doorbell rings. This is a rarity, and certainly a cause for celebration since it is an excuse... errrr... a reason to temporarily stop working! Better still, as I approach the front door, I can see a UPS truck idling on the street. It doesn't matter than I'm not expecting anything. In fact, that makes it better.

So guess what I got.... Anyone? No? I'll tell ya:


I immediately put on coffee, shared a few of the newfound treats with some rather special guests who were lurking as I was working, and went into a burst of creativity unparalleled in at least the last 17 hours, perhaps longer. But it's a nice sized box of chocolate, I must note, so I suspect this big work-week I've got scheduled is gonna go awfully well.

So remember, for those with a writer in your life, a surprise box of chocolates is exactly what they need. For the record, chocolate with peanut butter was ruled the victor over the caramel and pure chocolate. Keep that in mind, though individual tastes may vary (even if they're wrong).

Sunday, October 22, 2006


When creating a school library on no budget at all, you don't tend to think much about ancillaries like, oh, furniture. Still, when some generous blog reader one day says "gee, here's a gazillion dollars to fund your library so you can hire a librarian, actually BUY books, and furnish your room however you want," I'd potentially advocate for some Big Cozy Books. I kinda like the last set-up pictured here, personally, as I feel inspired to pick up that #2 pencil and fill in the rest of that story.

Anyone ever seen these in person? Curling up with and on a good book sure seems like a nice idea....

Friday, October 20, 2006

Dunk! -- a basketball poem

A Poetry Friday entry (see collected links over at Chicken Spaghetti) combining a few of my favorite things: sports and Fibs. One of my favorite possessions to this day is my trophy for "most improved player" from a basketball camp I attended in my weeeee youth. If you'd seen the baseline from which I started (and I'm not talking a baseline on the court, but rather my talent level), you'd understand that I had a big advantage when it came to getting a "most improved" trophy. Still, this poem is one that's clearly inspired by my own feelings at the time....

Gregory K.

I'm scoring.
Crowd keeps on roaring.
In my dreams I'm unstoppable.

(for your procrastinatory pleasure, links to this and other poems here on GottaBook are collected to the right under the headline "The Poems".)

If you want to get every poem (and only the poems) I post here emailed to you for freeee as it hits the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

And the award goes to...

Well, no one knows yet. But the kidlit blogger awards I mentioned a couple posts ago now have a name: The Cybils.

And more than that, it's got its own website where YOU can go and nominate books. Yes, you. GO HERE!

I think you should all suggest books, particularly in the poetry category. Really. I do. And I'm not just saying that because Poetry Friday is fast upon us. Oh, heck, you should nominate in every category. Go Cybil, I tell ya!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I've got blisters on me fingers!

Between 14 Fabulous Fibs and a variety of other stuff (all far, far less important, I quickly note, in case any editor types are lurking), I've been typing at my computer an alarming number of hours a day. Now, I don't really have blisters (and I've got me a whoppingly great ergonomic keyboard to make sure I don't have any such hand issues), but I have been starting to wonder why we writers don't have trainers like sports teams do to help keep us finely tuned during these big workload times. How wonderful it would be to have someone massaging my arms as I finish a paragraph or exhorting me on with a "let me re-adjust your sacrum so you can finish up that comic set-piece!"

For those of you looking for gift ideas for the writer in your life (and of course, since you're here, you must admit that I am a writer in your life if not THE writer), you could do worse than the above. But for most of us, chocolate and/or coffee will be just as good.

In fact... it's time to caffeinate, so I gotta book.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

You. Yes, you.

Sometimes I wish I could pull aside GottaBook visitors and give them answers to the questions that got them here ("no, Fibonacci did NOT have 13 children.") ... or ask them questions myself. And I must say that one question I want to ask the most is "why do you need Cliff Notes for a picture book?"

Yes, almost every day "Cliff Notes xxxxxx" is a search term that gets folks here, and that xxxxxx is truly a variable, representing pretty much any well known picture book around. So who's searching? Are these college students in a children's literature class? Teachers trying to learn how they might teach a random picture book they don't know well? Parents forced to answer questions from children and remembering back to their high school days?

But, of course, the only way I can ask is by posting the question in general right here. So, uh, anyone?

Monday, October 16, 2006

awards, kidlitosphere style?

Today there's news from the kidlitosphere, and those of you who read blogs beyond GottaBook (and I suspect that's all of ya except distant relatives), might've already seen. But still, it's such a cool thang, that I just want to give a shout-out anyway.

Big A little a has the details about a new set of kidlit awards, run by kidlit bloggers.

Once you've read that, why not head over to BookBuds and join in the process of naming the awards?

Now that you've done your reading, you'll also see there's ways to participate in the awards process. Cool. I hope y'all join in.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Catching up

Well, catching up is a bit optimistic. How about "here's a few things I've missed yakking about this week cuz I was busy but now I have a few Sunday-morning-moments to type 'em up."? Yes, that's more like it.

My Halloween-themed Book Talk is up at

BookBuds is back blogging bigtime and is celebrating the re-launch with a contest! I hesitate to send you this way since I'd like to win since the prize is a book that I'd really like our school library to have... but is way beyond our budget. But go ahead anyway and try and take a book out of the hands of a bunch of wonderful elementary school kids.

Here's another book-prized contest (and nice new blog) to check out, but know that you only have til midnight CST tonight for the contest. The blog will remain long after midnight, I hope.

And then finally, the joy didn't stop at the DiscoMermaids when Jay announced his book deal. I think, in fact, the joy began. Go on over there and read this series of posts with pictures to see what happiness, sharing, friendship, family, dreams coming true, and love are all about: one two three four.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Halloween -- a Halloween poem/Halloween poetry

For Poetry Friday the 13th in October (links collected here by Liz) this seemed rather appropriate somehow....

Gregory K.

Be prepared
To be scared.
Ghosts and ghouls are haunting.

Mummies moan.
Specters groan.
You know it’s you they’re wanting.

Wolfmen howl.
Goblins yowl.
A shadow hides a grave.

Streetlights flicker
Heart beats quicker.
It’s so hard being brave.

Flashing lightning,
Far too frightening.
You know you want to flee.

But don’t run.
Just have fun.
And bring candy home for me.

(for your procrastinatory pleasure, links to this and other poems here on GottaBook are collected to the right under the headline "The Poems".)

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!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oddaptation: Where the Wild Things Are

Yes, it's Oddaptation time again here at GottaBook. For those new to Oddapting, if you follow that handy link back in the prior sentence OR look to the right hand side of the blog under The Oddaptations, you'll get up to speed right quick. But if you think "attitudinal, oft rhyming Cliff Notes of picture books," you'd be on the right track.

Today's Oddaptation choice is actually my currently most requested title... but NEVER in public comments, only by e-mail. Why is that, I wonder? Dunno, but Halloween time seems like as good a time as any to toss this one out into the light of day, so here all ye requesters go. As always, if other titles pop into your mind for Oddaptations, be sure to let me know... in comments or by e, natch.

by Maurice Sendak
Oddaptation by Gregory K.

Another family meal is missed:
Max is angry. Max is pissed.
And rumpus beasts? They don’t exist…
My word, Max needs a therapist!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This and that, poetically

I actually took a wee bit of time off from all other projects the other night to simply sit and write poetry. It was great, and I came up with... NOTHING of note! But that wasn't really the point. It was time to clear the brain and do something just for moi. Still, I admit I had hoped to come up with dozens of new poems to put on the blog. Instead of that, though, I think tomorrow I'll toss up what is now the most-requested-title-to-be-Oddapted (MRTTBO as it's called around here), and then find something seasonal for Poetry Friday to keep up with my poetry jonesing.

And if you're feeling the poetry thang, why not head over to the Blue Rose Girls for two (ONE and TWO) posts on children's poetry? Interesting reading. So go there and share your thoughts... or just go on out get some kids a'reading poetry.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Yes! Yes!!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Won't you head over to the Disco Mermaids so you can wish Mermaid Jay (a Hot Man of children's literature) a big, fat, sloppy, mega-huge CONGRATULATIONS? Why, you ask?

JAY'S GOT A BOOK DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (okay... a TWO book deal)

I am sooooooo thrilled for Jay. He's incredibly talented, of course, but beyond that, in every single way I can come up with, he's totally deserving of this. And I'm not just saying that because his legs truly shine in fishnets.

So get outta here. Go cheer for Jay, already. But save a little energy, because I'm sure Eve and Robin, also incredibly talented, funny, nice, and with legs that shine in fishnets, won't be far behind.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Playoff mentality

Let me just say front and center that I love post-season baseball. Sure, I've got my favorite teams, but I love the sport enough that I will watch just about anyone play ball this time of year. Detroit and San Diego in the Series? No problem!

This year, however, as I work on the 14 Fabulous Fibs, I'm adopting a playoff mentality of my own... and using the march to the World Series as my own personal timeline. I'm hoping to avoid any Game Seven, down to the last pitch scenarios but I'm ready if it comes up. I'm trying really hard to avoid injury, as at this time of year the roster is set and there's no substitutions. And most of all, I'm trying to elevate my game since that's what it takes to win this time of year.

Well, in my case, additional coffee helps a lot, too.

Now I gotta book and get back to my own field of glory (which looks surprisingly like a messy desk with a computer on it. But hey, a guy can dream!)

Friday, October 06, 2006

A new search Fib

It's been awhile since I tossed up a search Fib, but I think this one is worthy of a Poetry Friday appearance, even if it's only cuz the last two lines make me laugh individually. What that last person was thinking, I dunno. And I added the exclamation point... but wouldn't you?

Why Fib?
Fibs create
Pop-Tart Addiction!
(Fibbery leads to strange fiction.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

And what, you ask, did we read this week?

OK, no one is asking that. But for the record, and since some of you had been nice enough to post suggestions (thanks, Alvina!) or email them, the first week readalouds at the library included Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Chris Van Dusen, various and sundry poets... and then a few classes that had to be rescheduled so a big pile of books that'll just have to wait.

And speaking of books (and of waiting, come to think of it), why not pop over to MotherReader and read her funny, multi-part "saga" from her trip to the National Book Festival in DC? It starts here and continues on, unsurprisingly given the source, to include things Mo-ish.

And speaking of sleeping... I gotta book!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Talking SCBWI

Over at the always entertaining Fuse #8, there's an interesting discussion going on about SCBWI. Now, the conversation, in my opinion, started from a reallllllly bad place (as I explain somewhere in the comments of the post), but people picked up the ball and ran well with it.

There's interesting discussion within the comments about how SCBWI can serve its more published members vs. the newer members, though I find that there's an odd line somehow drawn about what is and isn't useful to someone... but that line falls in a different place for every different someone. I think that's a big conundrum. On a basic level like that, a seminar on marketing is different for someone on their fifth novel vs. someone who writes for the magazine market vs. an illustrator who has done two picture books for hire vs. a non-fiction series author vs.... It's easy to say the organziation should do more (and you'll see that the heads of SCBWI weigh in agreeing with that), but coming up with specific ways that please folks is far harder. Good convo, and maybe someone will have the perfect solution.

Finally on that conversation, I believe folks underestimate the potential (not to mention fun!) of meeting other likeminded people and all the possible good that can come from that... in many obvious and many not-so-obvious ways. On the personal side, the people I've met and become friends/acquaintances with are well worth any money SCBWI membership and conferences have cost me. On the professional side, the benefit is off the charts and not even measurable. I could be overblowing the importance of this people stuff, of course. I doubt it, much as I doubted folks who said "boy, you're wasting your time blogging." But I might be... and since it's totally unquantifiable, this too boils down to a matter of expectations and opinion. Same as it ever was.

Anyway, join in the convo over there, over here, or anywhere else, for that matter!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It is better to curse a candle...

I dunno. I didn't feel that "spirit of writing" any more than I did before lighting the so-called magick candle. I'm feeling like I wish I had my $3.50 back.

But on a happier front, tomorrow I get my first shift back as volunteer librarian to the stars (where the stars are the kids, of course). It's kinda embarrassing how much I'm looking forward to it. Of course, I am well aware how much writing inspiration I'll gain after a whomping-good readaloud. Yup, way better than any stinky, purple, faux-grapish, unmagical candle.

Though it sure woulda been swell if it had worked.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Breaking out the good stuff...

Have you ever felt like you needed a little extra boost in your writing? I am at that point, so I've pulled out the heavy ammo -- a candle purchased years and years ago in New Orleans full of magick dedicated to "The Spirit of Writing". How can something like that fail me? I know. I know. It can't. I'm emailing my editor RIGHT NOW! THIS IS IN THE BAG!

Then again, that same trip I returned with a potion called "Other Lawyer Be Stupid" which I gave to my then entertainment attorney. I can safely say that my subsequent deal looked enough like my prior one to make me doubt the efficacy of said magic. Though later in his career, he made a truly remarkable deal, so perhaps he had just saved it til then? Hmmm.

Regardless, I'm sure this purple, dusty bit o' magick will do the trick, so I plan to pull an allnighter. If not, well, I can already tell you that it's a lovely grapish smell, and that's not so bad either. Now outta my way... it's time to write!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

262,800 minutes

How do you measure a half year of Fibs? In blog posts? In comments? In midnights? In cups of coffee?

Faint attempts at ripping off Rent aside, I actually did spend some time today thinking about all that's transpired since I blogged about The Fib on April 1. And in short, even though I can't measure the half year, I can say it's been a combination of wonderful, astonishing, totally humbling, and pretty damn awesome... and so often in unexpected ways.

The most surprising and happy ways definitely have come about due to many of you who are reading this right now. Yes, I'm talking about relationships forged in cyberspace, built through links and blogs and emails, zigging and zagging cross-country and sometimes over oceans and through language barriers. So many of you have helped spread Fibbishness, and I appreciate that, but I'm just as grateful about how many of you have stuck around and brightened the blogging days around these parts.

And so here at the half-Fib-year mark, once again I want to thank you all for your support, friendship, links, jokes, comments, ideas... you name it.

Now it's late, and I gotta book, but I'm already looking forward to seeing where we all are another six months hence. And tomorrow, I'll start measuring... with cup of coffee number one!

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Food Poem: Broccoli and Cauliflower

Here I am trying to get an early jump on the Poetry Friday contingent (now recapped by Liz in this post), so I offer up a very silly original ode to vegetables. Okay, it's not an ode. And it's only to a certain type of vegetable. But Ode to Veggies sounds good, darn it!

Gregory K.

Broccoli and cauliflower
Are vegetables cruciferous,
But any way you serve them up,
They'll make me stay carnivorous.

(for your procrastinatory pleasure, links to this and other poems here on GottaBook are collected to the right under the headline "The Poems".)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Children's Poet Laureate

It's surely not my habit here at GottaBook to talk all the time about the big or breaking news in the world of children's poetry. (Pause while laughter subsides). (Another pause for the gigglers among you who are continuing).

Anyway, as others have already noted, the Poetry Foundation has named their first ever children's poet laureate... and it is none other than Jack Prelutsky. Why not click here for a few of his thoughts from today?

Right choice? Wrong choice? Frankly, I'm simply happy that there are choices, and that someone, somewhere is encouraging the spread of poetry for children. Not a bad thing at all!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The daily grind

So, I'm making coffee this morning, and unbeknownst to me, the filter has folded over. I am soon reminded of a childhood reading memory. How so? Well, there's an old Peanuts strip where Linus, I think, gets hot chocolate and describes it as being more like water with a brown crayon dipped in. That's what I ended up with in the coffee maker.

Fixable coffee fiasco aside, it was a fun flashback. The truth is, I learned to read because of Peanuts. I really LOVED the books we had, and I couldn't wait to finish one so I could go on to the next. But I wanted to get the jokes, to follow the characters I loved. I guess this helps explain why I can't understand the occasional conflicts that pop up about things like Captain Underpants or graphic novels or manga and whether or not kids should be reading them instead of... well, instead of what is never the argument, is it? Why reading should ever be a daily grind for kids is beyond me. Life, in the form of coffee maker fiascos and variants, is enough of a grind, even for the younger set.

Now, I gotta book, but I leave you with a Peanuts line I still use from time to time lo these decades later. Charlie Brown looks at an uncomfortable Linus and wonders what's wrong. Sayeth Linus, "I'm aware of my tongue." You try finding that feeling phrased better in any work of literature for any age. Betcha can't.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


What a shocker that the subject of books would come up on this blog. Stunning, really. But here it is nonetheless....

First off, on the book front, the monthly book column I do for is up.

Second off, instead of sending you off-blog, I'm suggesting an actual location to go to: FoG Lisa Yee is going to be at the Citadel Outlet Mall (in the Main Court) on Saturday, Sept 30th at 1:00 PM reading from her award winning Millicent Min, Girl Genius and giving away some books, too.

Third off, to answer a question that has popped up... no, we didn't yet find the N-O box of picture books that has vanished (vanished, I say!) from the library. It's sad as can be.

Fourth and finally... Happy Banned Book Week! Go read a banned book today. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Cats write?

Yes, as it turns out, some felines do write. In fact, three cats are collaborating on an online serial novel for kids. But here's what I'm wondering -- is it kiddie-lit or kitty-lit?

Check it out and judge for yourself: Three Cats Write.

Success of some odd sort.

Well, I did it. I took the weekend almost entirely off from writing as I planned to do. Yup. Notice I say "almost entirely." I'm afraid that when I'm working on something -- as I am rather feverishly, I add, just in case any editors or friends of editors of mine stop by -- my brain never, I'm afraid, stops working on story or character or incident or jokes. But this weekend was definitely a butt-out-of-chair (BOOC???) weekend.

And did today dawn with me recharged? Did I find that time off made the whole process easier? Did I mysteriously solve plot problems simply by sleeping on it? Of course not. But I got a blog post out of it!

The purpose was not really any of the above, but rather to take a break for the purpose of taking a break. I love sitting down and writing (and love it more with coffee and chocolate), but all write and no non-write makes Gregory K. a dull boy.

And we can't have that now, can we?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

And once more... with feeling.

Yes, that's right. I'm once again telling you to shoo.

Why not check out the new Edge of the Forest? As always, it's chock full o' great kidlit stuff, including an interview with Rick Riordan and a new Review Archive.

Then, if you've got the energy for one more mouse click (and really, who doesn't?), head on over to Little Willow's Slayground and help out with a new list: Sassy Sidekicks of Children's Literature. I recommend Ed McMahon simply because any list of sidekicks seems to include him.

More soon, but now I gotta book.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Go play at the Carnival

Yes, the Seventh Carnival of Children's Literature is up and running at Wands and Worlds.

There are links galore to great stuff about bunches of aspects of children's literature, from the birth of ideas to reviews of the finished product to everything in between.

And then there's my post, but hey, no one's perfect!

Go grab some cotton candy or a deep fried twinkie and enjoy.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Plans? Who needs 'em?!

Yes, well, these days I keep making plans then watching as they oft gang a-gley. But aha! There I go making a Robert Burns reference, thus slyly participating in Poetry Friday and thus fulfilling one of the plans that done did go ganging a-gleyly. Sorta. Maybe.

Huh. I guess I'm better off directing you to Kelly's great summary of folks who truly participated in this current Poetry Friday. Good. Go there. I'll be waiting for you when you come back.

Back so soon? Well, then, I'm gonna send you away again. One of the great things about the kidlitosphere for me, particularly in my volunteer elementary school librarian guise, is that soooooo many folks in these kidlit-cyberparts review books and talk books and basically give folks like me a wonderful bluffing knowledge of what's current and hot and great and unknown. Basically, I mooch. And Mother Reader has given a great resource for folks like me OR for anyone interested in the Top Picks of 2006 (so far). This isn't just Mother Reader's choices. Noooo. It's her compilation of picks from a veritable who's who of the kidlitosphere.

What a great list! I want to read so many of those books (and have actually READ some of those books!) So, if you're interested in seeing the best of the best from picture book up through YA, once again I say go here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

GottaBook Xtreme!

Today marks the seven month anniversary of my very first post here on GottaBook. In the blogosphere, I believe that's the oh-so-ironically named "paper anniversary," but I'll admit my Emily Post doesn't tell me for certain. Still, while it's not really an important anniversary, I was thinking that maybe it should serve as an excuse to re-invent myself as GottaBook Xtreme!

I am inspired to do this since my encounter with the new Tickle Me Elmo doll. It's the TMX model, with the X either standing for 10 (as in anniversary) or standing for Xtreme. Watch the video and judge for yourself: a good Tickle Me Elmo X vid (with a bonus dog!).

Boy... that's kinda like a toy version of a weird-ass picture book, don't you think?

Anyway, despite loving the name GBX, the problem is I'm having trouble figuring out how this re-invention du blog would look.

Would it involve epic original poems instead of little ditties like, say, this one?

Maybe Fibonacci poems that have 89 syllable lines?

Hidden "tickle spots" on the blog that would cause extreme reactions (and likely make Blogger stop working in some form or function)?

Do I post WITHOUT having any coffee???

I am unsure. Maybe I should simply focus on writing things that get a TMX type reaction from readers. That wouldn't be so bad.

I will continue to ponder, but for now, it's late, and I gotta book (extremely fast).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I don't tend to talk much about the writing process around here, but I have to say that I had a remarkable fauxly productive day. How so?

I switched to double spaced in my manuscript. Man oh man, it's like writing dozens and dozens of pages in an instant! "I'm fast, mannnnn. Look at me go!" Another day like that and I'll be waaaaay beyond where I need to be. It's child's play!!

Yes, the illusion of progress is powerful stuff. I'm taking the rest of the night off!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Oh sure....

Sure, I said, I'll post every day now that summer's done. Oh, sure. More time.


It's great, though. A hive of activity is a happy thing, and you all have my blogroll to keep you entertained.

Speaking of which, a tip of the hat to Don Tate for being one of the Disco Mermaids' big winners. And for that matter, kudos to Mermaid Jay for the unique honor bestowed upon him today.

Tomorrow, I actually have time for more in depth posting (I hope), but for now, I gotta book.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Oh, no. No N-O!

I once read that Oz was named for the O-Z tag on a filing cabinet. At the moment, then, I'm working on a piece about the land of NO! Seems that somehow in our school's move, one box of library books has gone AWOL. Breaking my heart, it's a box of picture books. And, as you might be able to guess now, it's by authors whose last names start with N or O.

The odds of one of 160 boxes somehow disappearing seem slim, particularly a box that was not first or last in the pile. So, I suspect it's somewhere waiting to be discovered. In the meantime, however, our libary... now ready to open after a marathon day full o' volunteers... is sadly lacking some wonderful stories.



Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Fib contest

Thanks to a GottaBook reader, I can pass on information about a pretty cool Fib contest.

Renowned fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay has a Fib contest going on his authorized website. The prize is a signed copy of his newest book... quite a bit before actual street date. Now, the contest does require knowledge of his books, but even if you don't have any, it's well worth checking out for the Fibs.

(EDIT: the direct link to the contest doesn't seem to be working right now. Instead go here, then click on Miscellaneous, then go all the way to the bottom of the threads. As of right now, it's the last thread called "New poetry contest, pre-Debcon III")

Friday, September 15, 2006

Plumbing the depths

GottaPlunger? Well, it wouldn't be enough to solve the current plumbing woes in these parts. Recent blogging and writing time has been spent mopping and whining instead, and I've kept on hearing a phrase running through my head (which I take from Tom Lehrer, but may predate him): "Life is like a sewer. You only get out of it what you put into it."

But being a writer, I hear that phrase in my head while squeezing out a mop head, and I start to think "hey, that's the exact reason I'm having the problems I'm having at the end of my manuscript, and I sure hope I move my foot out of the way in time since I'm wearing new sneakers!"

Because really, for a writer, books are like a sewer, too -- you pour in tons of stuff and hope you've got a great filtering system or the book ends up like... well... you know... bad. And specifically when it comes to the conclusion, you can only build from and pay off what's already in the pipes.

Sure, some people refer to this as planting seeds, and I might, too... except that I wasn't gardening the past 24 hours. The upside here is that I've realized that I've actually laid enough pipe as I wrote. And, while there are some clogs in a few places that I've been fixing, I know now that there is a whole faucet I haven't turned on, if I may continue the metaphor.

I am sure this is the same process Carl Hiaasen went through to yield Flush, so I'm confident that the "Greatly Minor, Stinky Flood of 2006" will prove to be more than just an annoying timesuck. I don't know that for a fact, though, because once again, I GottaSwab.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Coffee? Did you say coffee???? And a carnival???

We've all seen a lot of lists in the kidlitosphere this summer: cool boys, cool girls, cool teachers, my own oddball books famous authors would write, and others. But now Nancy over at Journey Woman has added a new wrinkle to everything: she's giving away a Starbucks gift card in the process of building her list of great antagonists in children's literature. Don't believe me?

Click here and see....

If you're not interested in coffee, what about toffee? And where might you possibly find some? At a carnival! Hmmm. Fine. Maybe not.

But that doesn't mean I can't remind you about the upcoming seventh Carnival of Children's Literature being hosted over at Wands and Worlds. The deadline is fast approaching for submissions -- (Yikes! I have to pick something!) -- but why not join the fun?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hey, Tuesday... come back!

Well, that was fast. While some days move at the same speed as my grandmother drove in her later years, others seem bent on winning their own Indy 500. Or more accurately "Day"tona 500. But the point to these odd metaphors is simply that some days zip.

I have been trying to blog since before breakfast and only now find the chance to do so. So since I've made you all wait, you'd think I'd have the courtesy to provide you with profundity.

But no.

Instead I have a question:

Does anyone know where the phrase "children wash their hands with soap while eating bread" comes from? An alarming (to me) number of people seem to search Google with this phrase and end up here. I love that folks end up here, but I start to wonder just what are they searching for really? I mean when someone gets here by searching "guest book of james fingers farm 2006 company emails" at least I know what they wanted. But this whole "children wash their hands with soap while eating bread" thing is flummoxing.

So... anyone?

Monday, September 11, 2006

A little bit o' Fib stuff...

I haven't been talking much about Fibs lately, though I've certainly been thinking about them (and writing them) as they are part of what's still called The 14 Fabulous Fibs of Gregory K.

But here as the new school year is upon us, I'm pleased to say I've heard reports of teachers planning to teach Fibonacci poetry this year... on elementary up to college levels! I'd love to hear from anyone who does teach 'em, just to satisfy my sheer curiousity.

Also, I know I've mentioned The Fib Review before as a place to send Fibs for possible inclusion in a journal devoted to Fibbery. Now, there's a website named Fibetry dedicated to Fibonacci poetry.

As always, of course, people are encouraged to leave Fibs here in the comments at GottaBook (where, in fact, they continue to pop up on various posts linked over on the right under the headline The Fibs).

There's even more Fibbishness out there, I'm sure, but it's late and I'll save it for another time, because right now, I gotta book.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Let them do it....

I sat down to blog, but ended up reading folks on my blogroll (over to the right and down). Boy, no wonder I've got all those folks listed!

Anyway, I decided that instead of writing anything new today, I'd just link to a few of my favorite posts. And it really is only a few out of MANY.

Over at Bartography, Chris has this fantastic post that has links to all the books he's used with his kids while teaching history (from prehistory to the present!). Picture books, biographies, and quite often with great notes about what worked and didn't. Fantastic.

Over at Adventures in Pond Scum, Alan not only has a funny, original cartoon (and one in the prior post, too), but he also in the same post talks about that amazing range of emotions a writer can go through, even in one day.

Over at the Blue Rose Girls (and not on her own blog, this time), Alvina talks about coming out as a blogger. Lotta interesting questions and comments there.

And that post led me to Justina Chen Headley's new blog called BookSmart. She's talking about promotion, branding, contacts... all sorts of business-side writerly stuff here, and that's stuff I often think we writers miss.

I could link dozens more, but instead I again say "follow the blogroll" and be off with you!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Oddaptation: Curious George

It's been some time since I've posted an Oddaptation, so I figured the drought should end along with summer. For those new to Oddapting, check the links over to the right (under The Oddaptations) to get a fuller picture. Or just think of them as picture book Cliff Notes in rhyme with a point of view mixed in.

It seems like a good time for a take on Curious George, what with a new animated series just debuting. Also, beyond the triumverate of mediocrity, it's my most requested title. Still, I decided to go a step farther and see if I could do one Oddaptation to sum up the entire Curious George collection (which is huge, since earlier TV series led to books galore, not to mention all the original Rey works). The result is below.

As always, suggestions for future Oddaptations are encouraged. And please note that the tone of voice you choose for the last line is entirely up to you.

(all books)
by H.A. Rey & Margaret Rey
Oddaptation by Gregory K.

George is a monkey who’s always quite curious,
But if you did what he did your folks would be furious.
He complicates life, making messes quite frightful…
Yet things turn out fine in the end.
How delightful.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


OK, I know it's not a word, but I had an email asking if we'd opened the school library in conjunction with the first day of school.

Don't be silly! That'd be far too organized and logical. As it is, we're in fine shape to open on schedule in two more weeks, after the rest of the opening kinks get worked out. But let me tell you how unfun it is to move a library from one location to another.


Now let me tell you how fun it is to put books on shelves again. Even though I know our collection absurdly well, I continue to either find or re-find amazing titles. I'm trying to figure out what the first read-aloud of the year should be (and wondering if I'll make it til opening day or if I'll just grab my book and storm into the classrooms).

If anyone has the perfect "opening book" for me, lemme know....

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Overnights Perspective

No, it's not a typo with the "s" at the end of overnights in the title line. We're talking TV ratings here (much as, I say self-reflexively, characters in the Diff'rent Strokes extravaganza talked about overnight ratings). Basically, "overnights" are the preliminary rankings based on a smaller sample set than the overall Nielsen sample set... but the projection made off the number is usually highly accurate. Let's just say that the Strokes movie didn't do well. OK, fine... it got clobbered by pretty much everything on TV Monday night.

But here's where perspective is valuable. Despite being a mere blip in the ratings, Diff'rent Strokes was watched by over four million people.

May all my writing friends (and me!) write books that reach that same audience!

I'd say it's back to "routine" but the thing is...

I don't and never really have had a writing routine. Don't get me wrong -- I spend many, many hours a day working. But I think the whole reason I became a writer was to avoid routine.

Well, and to avoid having to shave on a daily basis.

Oh, and to find a job where a t-shirt and jeans would make me overdressed.

And, of course, there's that little issue that I can't imagine doing anything other than telling stories.

OK, fine. Forget that whole routine comment, other than the fact that every day remains different, and that's the way I like it.

Around these GottaParts, though, I hope to return to daily posting, after being a little slack over the summer. I've got an Oddaptation coming later this week, new poems in the offing, Fib stuff, and the never-ending adventures of a volunteer librarian who still has a library to unpack and new books (yay!) to enter into the system (despite not yet having any system in which to do such). Plus I hope to read my blogging pals even more regularly.

But not in any sort of set routine, of course.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Three stars! And yet...

In my futile efforts to tie Behind the Camera: the Unauthorized Story of Diff'rent Strokes to the world of children's literature, I would like to focus on something that the finished movie and a finished book can share: reviews.

magazine gave the movie three stars (out of four). Not bad, agreed? In fact, it's great. Three stars means they say "watch this!" And yet really the only adjectives they used in the course of the review were "cheap and undistinguished." Now, it's true that I was vastly, vastly underpaid, as all writers are, so I'll agree on "cheap," but the point is that it's kinda a funny counterpoint.

Then again, there have been better ('above-average') and worse ('like I'm gonna put them in here? it's my blog') and more interesting ('cheesetastic') words used in various reviews. But you, of course, will be the final judges.

I know. I know. Some of you read this blog because of Fibs, and you're stuck in a pop-culture timewarp. Don't panic. This too shall pass (after 8PM on Monday, actually).

Friday, September 01, 2006

A First Day of School Poem

by Gregory K.

I don’t know the teacher.
I sure hope she’s nice.
But what if she’s mean with a heart cold as ice???
What about bullies?
There might be a bunch.
And what a disaster if I mess up lunch!
I don’t like that playground:
The slide hits the sky!
And now here at drop-off, I can’t say “goodbye.”
My stomach is queasy.
My stress can’t be greater...
But then a voice calms me,
“Bye, Dad! See ya later!”

Good luck to all parents (yeah, and kids, too) as the first day of school comes 'round once more. And happy Poetry Friday to all!

(for your procrastinatory pleasure, links to this and other poems here on GottaBook are collected to the right under the headline "The Poems".)

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!

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Everywhere I turn, I have a deadline, be it self-imposed or utterly, totally, intractably real. And there's lots of them. So I've decided the right thing to do is to blog for a bit. What? You expected me to say I had to clean my desk?? That's later, silly.

A friend of mine was asking me what I'd learned while writing the Diff'rent Strokes movie. No, not sitcom trivia and arcana, but about writing. I always do try and figure out what each project has taught me, so I actually had an answer of two very valuable personal lessons: true stories are hard on sooooo many levels AND I don't like to spend all my time working on depressing storylines. Strokes was a departure for me on many levels, and I'm glad to have done it, but it's safe to say that on a personal level, I don't have as much fun writing when I'm dealing with lots and lots of human tragedy. So I can tip you off here and now that the 14 Fabulous Fibs will NOT be one of the darker books you'll read.

I know. I know. Y'all who read my blog are SHOCKED by that. I'll see you all tomorrow when you've recovered....

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Oooh. It's all connected.

Like all of you, I'm sure, I'm gearing up for the September 4th showing of Behind the Camera: the Unauthorized Story of Diff'rent Strokes (at 8PM on NBC and written by yours truly). What? You're not. Well forget all this back to school/end of summer stuff. Let's focus on what's REALLY important over Labor Day Weekend -- nostalgia and unbelievably painful stories! Having seen the movie tonight, I'm reminded again of the fact that I really never should complain about anything much career-wise. Or really in general, come to think of it.

I'm also reminded that it was during this project that I attended my very first SCBWI conference, started learning about the world of children's literature, and made the connections that would ultimately have me writing what I'm writing today -- the 14 Fabulous Fibs.

This undoubtedly proves something profound about cycles, luck, timing, and all that good stuff, but I'll leave that for the philosophers... though I understand that Plato reads my blog on a daily basis which, of course, is a name that brings us full circle back to Diff'rent Strokes.

Yes, connections are everywhere... though sometimes we have to tilt our head and squint to see 'em. And since I've been doing that a little too long this evening, I gotta book.