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".)

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