Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Taking Stock (and Happy New Year!)

I always like to do a personal year-in-review, looking to see what's going right and wrong, what's on and off track, what I should do going forward, and what I definitely shouldn't do going forward based on looking backward!

The review a personal thang, not really the stuff of blog posts for me, but this year something really stood out in sharp relief: I am happy when I'm writing, and when I don't have time to write... well, jeez, it's frustrating in a way I don't think I ever understood.

So, I'll use that as motivation next year, stealing minutes when days don't offer hours, and taking hours when they come. It's a rare moment of clarity... so feel free to remind me of it sometime in the middle of next year :-)

I wish you and all of yours a very happy and healthy 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thoughts During the Downpour - a rainy day poem

Thoughts During the Downpour
Gregory K.

I always wished the rain away
And said “come back some other day.”
It worked real well, but now I fear
“Some other day”?
It's here.

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!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oddaptation Redux: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It's been a while since I've posted an Oddaptation here at GottaBook. If you've never seen one, I think of them as picture book Cliff's Notes, though with attitude and almost always in verse (hence my thinking of one for Poetry Friday).

You can see a selection of Oddaptations here if you'd like to get up to speed.

My Grinch Oddaptation is a little bit different than others, but since it is the season....

by Dr. Seuss
Oddaptation by Gregory K.

Don’t worry. He didn’t.

You can check out the Poetry Friday roundup over at The Poem Farm, where Amy is not only also throwing a surprise party but posts fabulous poetry all year round. Go on and check it out!

And hey, 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, December 16, 2010


What, you may ask, is the significance of 26,522? Well, thanks to an article brought to my attention by the wonderful author Erica Silverman, I can tell you that that's the number of children's and YA books published in 2009 (at least per the Library and Book Trade Almanac).

What's not clear is how many of them are traditionally published vs. self-published (and Harold Underdown said on Twitter that he believes these stats include the self-pubbed titles). No matter what, though... that's a lotta books!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oh, You Think Nothing's Happening Here?

Sure, I've been quiet. But that doesn't mean it's been quiet here at GottaBook.


How about 60 spam comments left last night? Hmmm? How about that. But these were special, as the author of them attempted to be on topic, occasionally even writing poetry.

Oh, sure, it was poetry with a hyperlink to generic pharmaceuticals thrown in randomly, but it was poetry!

I also liked this comment, finding it quite in keeping with current events:
I was really impressed with the way you redact the blog. I thought "this guy must be a professional poet."

It is nice to have fans. And if any of you are searching for generics as gifts for the holiday season, I think I have a link for you....

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Twitter Tags of Interest for Children's Literature (from Picture Book to YA)

Here is an attempt to create a list of the various tags used on Twitter that relate to the field of children's literature. This will be a "living" document, changing as Twitter changes and as new tags pop up.

#kidlit - used all the time. used for news of interest in children's literature. (To be honest, this tag isn't used as often as it could be!)

#kidlitchat - used on Tuesdays at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific for a weekly chat about all things kidlit, but used sporadically through the week, too.

#YALitChat - used on Wednesday at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific for a chat about YA, but also used all week long for YA Lit type topics.

- used on Thursday at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific for a weekly chat about the art of picture books. Used some during the week, too.

#yalit - used all week long for items related to YA Lit.

#PBlitchat - another picture book chat tag, writing based. The chat has moved off Twitter, but the tag still used for picture book stuff during the week, too.

#scbwi - used to tag news and information related to or of interest to SCBWI members (local, national, and international)

#titletalk - a Sunday chat, but the tag is used during the week, too, highlighting specific titles

#amwriting - a cross-genres and cross-age groups tag for those who are writing

#speakloudly - this tag deals with a situation involving Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, and is still heavily involved in issues involving challenges to children's books.

#nfmon - used to tag posts related to non-fiction Monday.

#NFforKids - used all week long for links related to non-fiction for kids.

- used to tag posts related to Poetry Friday.

There are many more tags that cross into children's literature from time to time:

#askagent, #publishing, #books, #poetry, #amediting, #literacy, and no doubt dozens more I'm forgetting.

There are also tags like #kidlitcon that relate to individual events and others that relate to one-time chats. I am trying to list only tags that work year round.

Have any to add to this list? Please let me know so we can keep this list up to date. Leave a comment here, email me, or even tweet me!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Poetry Friday! A Carnival! A Biiiiiig Book Giveaway!

Lots to pass on today, starting off with the biiiiig giveaway (like 125,000 books big) being done by Readergirlz and FirstBook. I mention this here not just to shine the spotlight on this great thing... but also because they're looking for organizations which reach out to teens to help in the distribution. Do you know any such org? If so, please check out the giveaway announcement for more info.

Also worth a peek and shoutout... the November Carnival of Children's Literature is up, kindly hosted by Wendy Wax. Lots to see there, so head on over and check it out.

And it's Friday, so that means there's a new Poetry Friday roundup! This week it's hosted over at the Miss Rumphius Effect. And like all weeks, it's well worth a peek.

That should keep us all plenty busy, as if this time of year isn't busy enough already. But hey, this is cyber busy. It's different, I tell ya!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

This is my type of research!

Not that I'm turning GottaBook into a hub of science info or anything, but this is the type of research that I can fully get behind. In fact, most writers I know can, too:

Coffee and a Sweet Treat to Think Better? Caffeine and Glucose Combined Improves the Efficiency of Brain Activity

As my friends on Facebook and Twitter have agreed, this is not really "news" to those of us who partake of the combination already. Still, this is a great excuse... errr, I mean... this is a great reason to commit ourselves to the cause of fully exploring this important topic and experimenting frequently in the true tradition of scientific inquiry.

Are you with me? Excellent! I knew I could count on y'all. Now who's brewing?

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After Thanksgiving - a Thanksgiving poem

The Day After Thanksgiving
Gregory K.

Yesterday my grandpa pinched my cheek and said I’d grown.
I heard my uncle’s lousy jokes and held back every moan.
I had to watch the football games instead of what I like.
I had to watch my cousins all take turns on my new bike.
I had to take a taste of Auntie’s tofu bean sprout "stuff."
I didn’t get the apple crisp – Mom didn’t make enough!
The table got so messy that I had to clear it twice.
I couldn’t wear my comfy clothes since Dad said, "Please dress nice."
All day I heard my grandma say how crazy my dog drove her.
Today I’m thankful we’re alone ‘cause I’ve got zilch left over.

I hope all of you who celebrated Thanksgiving had a happy day. I did (the above is actually not autobiographical in any way, I'm pleased to say)... and am looking forward to the weekend ahead.

A big thanks to all the folks who have hosted the Poetry Friday roundup, including this week's host Jone! (You can find the roundup here.)

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!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's a Fibonacci Kinda Day! (Or... Figure Skating and Fibonacci: Who Would Have Guessed?)

It's 11/23 (or 1-1-2-3) and therefore a great day to be talking Fibonacci. OK, sure, 11/23/58 woulda been an even better day, but I'll take four numbers in sequence anytime.

And how to celebrate such a superbly sequential day? What about a guest post from author Kate Messner who, it just so happens, features Fibonacci in her upcoming novel Sugar and Ice (a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Winter 2011 Kids IndieNext pick)? Yes!

Because the truth is, I just had to find out how Fibonacci and figure skating ended up in the same place... and luckily for me, Kate was willing to explain.

Figure Skating and Fibonacci: Who would have guessed?

The great thing about writing a novel is the mental playground that opens up during that process. Writing a book is an invitation to explore places you love, places you’ve always wanted to go.  It’s a chance to meet people long dead and invent people out of thin air.  And it’s a chance to play around with all of your favorite ideas.

Like a maple farm at sugaring time.  A figure skating rink with high stakes competition. And why not throw in a little cool math, too?  Though they might seem like unlikely companions, all of those threads play a role in SUGAR AND ICE, my latest novel for young readers, due out from Walker/Bloomsbury December 7th.   

Small-town figure skater Claire Boucher has always been content to skate in her local Maple Show and help out at the community rink, but when a charismatic Russian skating coach shows up in town with a scholarship offer, she finds herself transported to the uber-competitive world of Lake Placid’s Olympic Center, where ice time takes priority and Claire finds herself struggling to meet her school obligations – even the math project on Fibonacci numbers she was so excited about.

Why is Claire fascinated by Fibonacci?  Mostly because the number patterns he wrote about really do appear in some amazing places in nature and elsewhere (maybe even in skating!)  And it doesn’t hurt that the cute, friendly guy at skating is a math geek, too.  Here’s an excerpt from one of Claire and Luke’s Fibonacci conversations in SUGAR AND ICE:

“You still working on that Fibonacci project?” Luke asked. “I could give you a hand if you want. I like that stuff.”

“Actually, I’m doing pretty well. I’m making a slide show, so I’ve been taking pictures around the farm now that the flowers are out. I’m trying to find more examples of the numbers in places other than nature and art.”

“Don’t forget music.” Luke held up the iPod. “You can listen to that Bartók on here later if you want.”

“I found that on iTunes when you talked about it before. But I was thinking about Fibonacci in figure skating. Those numbers are everywhere. They must be in skating, too, don’t you think?”  Claire leaned forward in her seat. “Any idea whether or not the rink is a golden rectangle?”

“Hmm…it might be a little long. We could check.  But what about the lead in to our spins?”  Luke traced a spiral in the air with his finger.

“Oh my gosh!” Claire bounced a little in her seat. “I bet you’re right! I bet it’ll be a golden spiral. That would be perfect!”

Luke’s eyes lit up. “We can test it out later. I’ll do a scratch spin right after the Zamboni comes out, and we’ll check the tracing on the ice.”

Abby sighed a dramatic sigh.  “Luke, this is the saddest attempt to impress a girl in the history of the world. You are getting geekier by the minute.”

Luke leaned back and punched her lightly on the arm. “You’re just jealous that you don’t share my mathematical awesomeness.”

“You mean your Fibo-nerdiness.”

Claire laughed. “Aw, go easy on him, Abby. I’ll take all the help I can get. If I can manage to get this project done with my skating schedule, it’ll be a Fibo-miracle.”

Sweeeeet! Thanks for stopping by, Kate, and all I really need to say is "Fibo-nerdiness!" Yes!

For more on SUGAR AND ICE,  you can visit Kate’s website. And if you live in the Northern NY area, you’re invited to join Kate for a book launch at The Bookstore Plus on Main Street in Lake Placid from 3-5pm on Saturday, December 11th.  

If you can’t make it but would like a personalized, signed copy, call The Bookstore Plus at (518) 523-2950 by December 10th, and they’ll send it out after the event on the 11th. Pretty cool.

For even more Fibonacci fun, I've got a guest post up over at Kate's blog today, too, telling a little about my own fascination with Fibonacci... and the sequence that led to my own book deal. 

Do you have any big Fibonacci plans today (or anytime, really)? We'd love to hear about it if you do. Regardless, enjoy the day, and Fib on!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A #kidlitchat pot-luck, and...

Tomorrow night's #kidlitchat should be a lot of fun - it's gonna be a pot-luck! Bonnie and I are inviting everyone to bring topics to the table, and we'll chat about 'em all. I imagine some topics will lead to full chats later, others will involve giving thanks, and no doubt a few will revolve around food. But what else will happen?

#kidlitchat happens on Twitter every Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern. If you're new to Twitter chats or want to learn more about 'em, I highly recommend Debbie Ridpath Ohi's incredibly helpful article about them. I hope we see you there!

I'm also excited about tomorrow as I'm featuring a guest post here by Kate Messner. And guess what? It involves two of my favorite topics: children's books and Fibonacci! So, I also hope I'll see you here tomorrow. Good times, indeed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Publishing, Whirled

I don't often talk about the world of publishing here at GottaBook, though it's not for lack of interest. And as things continue changing so rapidly, I find that I think about the business side of things more and more.

So it was with great interest that I watched, yakked in, and read tonight's #kidlitchat, all about the questions, really, of what it means to try and make money in this nutty business... and of whether the goal is to be published at any cost, to be well published, or to combine what we must do to make a living.

As usual in areas like this, there are no definitive answers. But as big publishing consolidates and publishing options expand, these choices are gonna be more and more prevalent. I think they're worth thinking about now, at least for those hoping to make a career out of writing. And if you're not, well, I'd still love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Guilt of the TBR Pile

I have a big to-be-read pile (well, more of a mound plus a shelf, but that's just semantics)... and it makes me feel guilty. Not cuz I haven't read all the books in it, but because I've realized that some books simply slide down the imaginary list of the TBR pile. A new book comes along and suddenly I'm reading that instead of a 9 month old denizen of the mound.

So I review the books to see if I can get rid of those older ones... but no. I want to read them. Really. 

I can't be the only one who goes through this cycle, can I? Don't you find some books that never quite make it to the top of the list, even if you can't determine why? Yet I also know that sometimes I read those same books and curse myself for waiting so long. That, I suspect, is the cause of what I'm calling "guilt."

If you've got solutions, I'd love to hear. An extra couple hours a day or days in a month would be really helpful, if you happen to have any to spare!

Monday, November 08, 2010

This week on #kidlitchat - what's working for you online?

I spend a fair amount of time online - I tweet, Facebook, blog, email, am on listservs, and hang a couple places, too. Sometimes I hang out for fun, but sometimes I have more of a business focus. We chat co-hosts, that Bonnie Adamson and me, know that EVERYONE who participates in #kidlitchat hangs online, too, so we have a bunch of questions for this week's chat:

What's working for you? Do you mix professional and personal... and is that only on certain networks? Do you find anything particularly effective for marketing? For friendship? For connecting?

In other words... how do you spend your time, and what's working for you?

I hope you can join us for #kidlitchat on Tuesday at 9 PM Eastern/6 Pacific. For information on how to join in Twitter chats, check out Debbie Ridpath Ohi's incredibly helpful article. And if you can't join us, please feel free to weigh in here!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Too Much, Too Soon - a holiday poem

Gregory K.

I’ve looked in every book I own...
I still can’t find a reason.
So tell me why’s November first the start of Christmas season?

I see the trees and hear the songs.
Big ads are everywhere.
I even saw a pumpkin wearing Santa’s beard and hair.

It’s not that Christmas isn’t swell,
But can’t we wait a tad?
Besides I got a frantic call -- Thanksgiving Day is mad!

This poem's been kicking around these parts for a long time. It's never seemed done to me, and maybe it still isn't. But every year, it seems more and more relevant, so... voila! And hey, if you want to check out other poems and poetry related posts that might be more finished, head on over to Teaching Authors and check out the Poetry Friday roundup. You'll be glad you did.

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, November 04, 2010

Books, Audio Books, and More

Over at the Happy Accident, I have an interview up with Holly Cupala - YA author, Readergirlz diva, and verrrrrry creative when it comes to using social media and other tools the help create opportunities for herself and her debut novel, Tell Me a Secret.

If you're interested in the story of someone who turned down a deal for an audio book and did it on her own... who used blog tours and blogging along with traditional tools... and who, oh, just go on over and check it out :-?

Friday, October 29, 2010

One Week

My blog spoke to me. It said "It's been one week since you blogged on me, typed your words on my page and showed you loved me; Five days since you checked you stats saying 'where'd ya'll go, wontcha come back and see me.'"

I can always look back at my year and identify different events in my offline life by looking at gaps in my blog and, specifically, Fridays when I don't even mention Poetry Friday or mention it late in the day (and for the record, this week's roundup is at Toby Speed's Writer's Armchair). 

I wonder if the uber-active on Facebook or Twitter can look back at an individual day and say "oh, see that one hour gap in activity? I was really busy doing xxxxxx and talking to yyyyy" or if it doesn't quite scale the same way? Questions. I've always got questions....

Happy Halloween, y'all! If you end up with any extra of those adorable little Reese's cups, be sure to save me a few!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Not To Sound Like a Broken Record...

Actually, I don't think I will. Instead, I have a question:

How many people, when they hear that phrase, know what a broken record sounds like? Do any kids today know it? At what age does it go from being something that has no relevance to something that, for me at least, brings up specific LPs that stuck and repeated like, well, like broken records.

Writing for kids, we're always told it's best to avoid slang that dates your book (unless you're trying to be of a certain time, of course). I wonder if a phrase like this, which is one I can use naturally, is going to disappear from the lexicon? And what other phrases are like this, based on something that we just don't experience with regularity anymore?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Now You're Talking

Or really, "Then We Were Talking" would be more accurate....

No matter, though, I wanted to put up a link to the transcript of last night's #kidlitchat conversation about the differences between Middle Grade and YA... and whether any of it matters.

We had authors, editors, readers, agents, and teachers weighing in on a whole range of issues related to the topic. We talked about "upper MG" and "teen" and chapter books, and whether it's all about marketing or not.

Good times and a good convo, I thought. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Is it YA? Is it MG? This Week on #kidlitchat

Can you define the difference between YA (young adult) and MG (middle grade)? Is it about content? Theme? Language? Sex vs. no sex? All of this and more? None of the above? And why do any of these distinctions matter... or do they?

That'll be the topic of conversation tomorrow (Tuesday, October 19th) at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific at #kidlitchat. I hope you'll come join us.

#kidlitchat is a weekly chat on Twitter, co-hosted by Bonnie Adamson and me, and featuring an incredibly smart, vibrant, ever-changing collection of others passionate about children's literature - writers, illustrators, editors, agents, librarians, readers, teachers, and beyond. Everyone's welcome. I think it's always informative and a blast, though I suppose I'm biased.

If you have never participated in a Twitter chat (and even if you have!), Debbie Ridpath Ohi has a must-read article that will explain the whats, whys and hows of it. Feel free to ask questions here or find me or Bonnie on Twitter and ask there.

You can also check out the transcripts of all prior #kidlitchats at their home on my other blog, The Happy Accident.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 15, 2010

This is Not a Poem

This Is Not a Poem
Gregory K.

This is not a poem:
It’s a moment caught in time.
It isn’t full of imagery
Or meter, form, or rhyme.

This is not a poem.
It can’t be heard or read.
It’s nothing but a small idea
Now planted in your head.

I've written many a poem when I should've been listening or working on something else. This one probably had its roots in M.T. Anderson's breakout session at the SCBWI Summer Conference this year... or maybe at a recent visit to the BCAM here in LA. Or maybe it's never had roots because it's not a poem :-) No matter, though, the Poetry Friday roundup (full of poetry and NOT poetry, perhaps) is up today over at Liz Garton Scanlon's Liz in Ink. That's always a lovely blog to visit, so you should go there just cuz.

And if you want to get all my new poems (and only the poems, yet including the "not a poems") emailed to you for freeee as they hit the blog, enter your email address in the box below then click subscribe!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


It's not just in poetry or nature. Nope, Fibonacci... and the Golden Ratio... show up the darnedest places.

Like Twitter's new design!


Friday, October 01, 2010

With a Link, Link Here....

And a link, link there!

Here's a link to the Poetry Friday Roundup over at at Jen Rothschild's Biblio File.

There's a link to the new Carnival of Children's Literature over at Great Kid Books.

Everywhere (well, I wish!) a link to nominate books for this year's Cybils awards.

(And again, if you happen to be coming to the Orange County Children's Book Festival on Sunday, be sure to say "hi!")

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cybils Time! Judging and... Nominating

I'm excited to be a judge for the upcoming Cybils awards - I'll be serving as a finals round judge in the poetry category. And I'm super excited to be joining such great folks in looking at this year's children's poetry books. Check out these fab folk:

The round one judges (who read 'em all and hand over a smaller group to us final round judges):

Bruce Black, Wordswimmer
Elaine Magliaro, Wild Rose Reader
Gina Ruiz, AmoXcalli and The Graphic Landscape
Laura Purdie Salas, Writing the World for Kids
Sylvia Vardell, Poetry for Children

The final rounders (who debate and discuss and ultimately determine one book to get the Cybil):

Kelly Fineman, Writing and Ruminating
Sara Lewis Holmes, Read Write Believe
Greg Pincus, right here at GottaBook
Jama Rattigan, Alphabet Soup
Liz Scanlon, Liz in Ink

Kelly, by the way, is the "fearless leader" of the whole poetry category. Lots o' work, that, and I'm glad she's there to do it.

Now, the Cybils start taking nominations on Friday, October 1st. And the thing is, if folks don't nominate, then we judges have nothing to do. So start thinking about your favorite books (not just in poetry, but across the kidlit board) and get ready to nominate. You can only do one book per category... but there are a lot of categories!

Friday, September 24, 2010

UNFAIR - a county fair poem/a life's unfair poem

Greg Pincus

The fluffy candy looked bright pink,
But it was really cotton.
The caramel apples looked delish…
But every one was rotten.

The petting zoo had great big signs,
You Only Look -- Don’t Touch.
The penny candy cost twelve bucks -
I didn’t have that much.

My giant lolli fell apart:
The spiraled rings uncoiled.
I waited for the rides so long
My deep-fried Twinkie spoiled.

I went to watch a sheep get sheared.
Instead, it cut my hair!
I sure can’t wait 'til I go home...
I don’t like this Unfair.

The Poetry Friday roundup is over at Karin Edmisten's Blog with the Shockingly Clever Title. Head on over and see what's poetically what this week in the blogosphere.

And as always, 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!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Emcee is in the House (OK, Fine - in Orange County)

On Sunday, October 3rd, I'm going to be down in Costa Mesa at the Orange County Children's Book Festival. There's a ton of fun to be had there with authors and illustratrors galore as well as other entertainment. Oh, and booooooooks!

Plus, if you come on by the illustrators' stage, you'll see ME as the stage MC! I'm excited and working on all my old comedy routines and... okay, not really on the routines. But I am excited and hope that you come on by and say hello.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Talking PoetrE

I have a guest post up over at David L. Harrison's blog today, talking about poetry and the online world (I'm an optimist, by the way). I hope you'll go check it out, and I also urge you to check out David's blog in total. It is packed with great stuff.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is up over at Elaine Magliaro's Wild Rose Reader today (another blog you should explore). Be off and enjoy some poetic thoughts and posts... and I'll see you back here soon.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Those Were The Days!

It's volunteer librarian season hereabouts again. This year, besides the elementary school where I've been involved for five years, I'm also spearheading the startup of a middle school library. I'll be yakking more about this in the weeks ahead, I'm sure, but I've already noticed a "probably good for my writing but tough on my time management" issue....

Every book that comes into our system goes through my hands. I've been known to, uh, read a few of them. Okay... a lot of them. When it was all picturebooks, I could enjoy dozens and still get the library cleaned up in the limited time I can devote to volunteering.

Now, though, more middle grade novels are coming through my hands. And yes... I'm reading. I can't get through dozens anymore! I guess it's a lucky thing for me that we haven't built up much of a collection yet.... Unluckily for me, most of what I'm scrounging up is slightly older... and covers a lot of what I somehow missed when it came out.

I often put out a call for donations (I will again!), but right now I'm accepting donations of reading time. Feel free to pass some along. Thanks!

Sunday, September 05, 2010


I am being very quiet... though I am not hunting wabbit. Still, I just looked hereabouts and realized it's been a week since I posted! Why is that?

Well, I was busy saving the world in a top-secret undercover mission involving books, the beach, lots of coffee (both iced and hot), and cotton candy. That's all I'm at liberty to say, but I'm sure you can all read between the lines and, uh, figure out the, uh, top-secret mission. Yeah. The mission.

But it's almost done. Only a couple days left, in fact, and then I know we'll all sleep better. Or at least I will!

See you then....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's Overseas! It's Everywhere!

The August Carnival of Children's Literature is up over at Sandy Fussell's Stories Are Light blog. Writing for children knows no borders, of course, but I'm trying to recall if there's been another Carnival hosted from Australia or anywhere else that to me is overseas (cuz, like, to Sandy I'd be overseas!). Anyone remember one?

Regardless, there are some fabulous links at the Carnival, and I hope you'll head on over and check it out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I dunno. It amuses me.

Thanks to the BookChook, I got to play with Iconscrabble and came up with this:

It amuses me, I tell ya!

Friday, August 20, 2010

"Tag, You're It," He Said Poetically - an adverb poem/a dialogue tag poem

"Tag, You're It," He Said Poetically
(a dialogue tag poem)
Greg Pincus

"Cut them quickly," she said speedily.
"I want them gone," he said needily.
"Show don't tell," he said directly.
"Use them well," she said correctly.
"I hate adverbs," he said whinily.
"We're all done," she said finally.

It's a little silliness either designed to end your summer or to send you back to school, I type optionally. Regardless, I hope you enjoy!

The Poetry Friday roundup is over at Teach Poetry K-12 today. Why not go check it out?

And 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 19, 2010

A Facebook Moment....

Over at my other blog, The Happy Accident, I put up a tutorial about Facebook's privacy settings in light of their rollout of Places - their geo-tagging equivalent of Foursquare or Gowalla.

Since I figure most everyone who reads GottaBook is either on Facebook or familiar with it, I wanted to share the link and take a moment to note that taking care of your privacy settings is really rather important. Even though I always assume that everything I do online will be public in the end, I do take whatever steps I can take to make that less likely!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Word Choice and a Dis-invitation

I had a lovely little real-world vacation... and while I was gone, I missed being a part of a few interesting conversations. But that doesn't mean I can't link to 'em or talk about 'em later!

Over at MotherReader's blog, she writes about the new Lane Smith book, It's a Book. There's some controversy... and interesting comments, too.

And at a slew of blogs, there's talk of Ellen Hopkins being disinvited to the TeenLitFest in Humble, TX. A few other authors have now bowed out of the event. I liked Pete Hautman's post on the topic - The Nasty Thing in the Corner - in which you'll find links to many other posts and good conversation in the comments.

I'm still catching up, so who knows what else I've missed?! As if that's not enough....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Poetry. Awards. Poetry Awards.

Yes, I'm late to this, I know, but it's still worth a shout-out or two. While I was all SCBWI-ing, Betsy Bird was talking about whether there should be an ALA poetry award or not. Check out the heavy hitters talking in the comments there!

Then last Friday, Elaine Magliaro reposted something of her own on the same topic from 2006 that's well worth a read, too.

Guess what? I'm in the camp that's pro-award. Shocking, isn't it!

Monday, August 09, 2010

A Charity Auction... With Cool Art!

Dan Santat - author, illustrator, trailer-maker-extraordinaire - has put together an auction to benefit 826LA, a fab organization that brings the arts to school kids. And this particular auction will be happening online and gives you a chance to nab some artwork by a slew of amazing artists working in the children's book field.

You know, folks like Sean Qualls and Mo Willems and and and and, well, see the picture below. If you click the link, you'll see a trailer and more information about how you can get involved (as in... buy the art!). Check it out!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Quick Bites on a Summer Friday

Over at the Happy Accident, I wrote up more about Rubin Pfeffer's keynote as well as my own thoughts on this whole future of publishing debate. The comments are rocking, too, so be sure to check them out.

The Poetry Friday roundup is over at Author Amok today. Give yourself a little moment of poetic fun and go check it out.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Learning, Connecting, and Caffeinating at SCBWI LA 2010

I have probably said this after every single SCBWI summer conference I've attended, but I'll say it again: what a blast! This was my first year on faculty - a huge honor and thrill, I must say - but that didn't change my experience very much at all, other than meaning I had to prepare and miss a few sessions when I was talking. I'll have a post up at The Happy Accident recapping what Alice Pope and I talked about in our sessions, by the way. Soon. Soooooon.

Highlights, as usual, are too numerous to list in detail... though here are a few of mine.

I was excited by what Jon Scieszka is doing with his new series Spaceheadz. The story and the multi-faceted online components work together even as either stands on its own. But they combine to enrich the universe of the story AND offer more fun for the reader. Check out http://www.sphdz.com to get a taste.

M. T. Anderson's breakout session on experimental fiction included a great reading and analysis of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, including comparing it to Burrough's Naked Lunch! Earlier, he sang us a Delaware state anthem that had 1,000 people roaring. But I digress.

Ruben Pfeffer delivered a clear-eyed view of the fact that, well, the future is now so to speak - ebooks are here, technology does have an impact, the business is changing and will continue to... and really, it's not a bad thing. This was the clearest, most direct, non-blinders-on view of the industry I've heard, and I applaud Ruben for delivering it and the SCBWI for asking him to do so. Denial is our biggest enemy, seems to me.

Ack! Already long enough and still no mention of Rachel Vail or Julia Durango or Gail Carson Levine or Marian Dane Bauer or or or or. Ack! Well, they and dozens of others were great. But I can't leave ya without one more...

Seeing 87 year-old Ashley Bryan on stage, getting 1,000 of us chanting poetry with him, filling us with inspiration, and reminding us of the importance of words on a page and getting young readers to connect with them was an experience that will inspire me for years to come.

There are a ton of great roundups already appearing on blogs today, and I'm sure more will come during the week. The SCBWI Conference blog has write-ups on all of this and more and is really worth a trip whether you were there or not.

Finally... it was great to see so many familiar faces there... some only familiar from Twitter and blogs, but many from knowing you now for years. It was a great time, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The SCBWI Summer Conference is here!

Well, "here" as in it's time, not "here" as in on my blog.

If you're at the Conference, I do hope you'll say "hi." I'm mighty thrilled to be on the faculty this year, but I'm even more excited to be able to reconnect with so many friends and connect with new ones....

If you're there, also think of coming by and joining in our Tweetup on Sunday at 5:30 in the hotel lobby. And if you're there or not, follow along the Conference tweetstream via the hashtag #LA10SCBWI (and, of course, the fab SCBWI team blog where they will be live-blogging the conference)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm a Sweetheart!

More specifically, I'm the Featured Sweetheart over at the Texas Sweethearts' blog! Y'all should head over and check out their site: Jo Whittemore, P.J. Hoover, and Jessica Lee Anderson have a great, fun group blog going on over there, and I'm flattered to be part of it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fibbing on a Poetry Friday

What better day to talk about Fibs than on a Poetry Friday? (Well, I suppose a 11/23/58 woulda been a good day, but I wasn't blogging back then).  And what do I have to say about Fibs? Well...

The Fib Review is still going strong, now with issue #6 online. It's mighty good reading... and for those of you so inclined, they take submissions. More than one GottaBook reader has ended up in the Review, so why not join the group?

Also, head on out and check out William Cullerne Bown's new blog/project - A Year in Fibs. He's posting a Fib a day... and he's just begun. That's an ambitious project - they aren't always easy to write, I must say - and it should be fun to follow.

Finally... it's Poetry Friday! The weekly roundup is at Language, Literacy, Love. Head on over and enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

#kidlitchat turns one!

Can you believe it? We've now had 52 #kidlitchats on Twitter (you can see the transcripts here). It's been a fabulous year, and we'd love to have you join us for a community celebration this week. If you're new to chatting, you might want to check out Debbie Ridpath Ohi's great blog post on Twitter chats. If you're a frequent chatter... thanks! And either way, I hope you'll come join us on Twitter this (and every) Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific.

See you there!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Combination = Win!

Today I'm sending you off again to celebrate poetry Friday... and the first stop combines two poets who were both part of this year's 30 Poets/30 Days celebration. Yup... you can find Charles Waters being interviewed over on David L. Harrison's blog!

Here on GottaBook, you can also find Charles' poem, I Love Being Me, and David's poem, Lookit!, from this year's celebration.

For more poetic fun, you can also find the Poetry Friday Roundup over at Carol's Corner today. Enjoy!

Monday, July 05, 2010

I Am a Grammarbender

I'm a big fan of the series Avatar, the Last Airbender... and I love applying the idea of "bending" to other things besides air, water, fire, and earth as in the series. Some other bending seems really useful - timebending, perhaps? But being a Grapebender? Probably not so much.

I also always wonder what bending could help writers (or give us a common vocabulary to refer to certain writers or, I suppose, for editors and agents to classify certain submissions).

Grammarbending seems useful. Spellbending? The computer might fight it, but still.... e.e. cummings was a master Capitalizationbender. And... what else?

As I await answers, I'm gonna practice my timebending. With any luck, you'll have read this a few hours before I posted.

Friday, July 02, 2010


PoFriWeRo is my new acronym for the Poetry Friday Weekly Roundup. Don't all thank me at once :-)

This week's roundup (aka PoFreWeRo) is over at The Poem Farm. Go on over and check it out!

And while you're at it, if the mood strikes you, you can see my poem from last week - Hello, Summer! - translated into Chinese. I do so love the web!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I mentioned this in passing at #kidlitchat tonight (transcripts of the chats are here, by the way), but I think it bears repeating: I really think Jason Shiga's Meanwhile is quite something.

I have yet to meet a kid who wasn't fascinated by it and enjoyed reading it/interacting with it. It works in groups, too. It's not a perfect book (what is?), but boy I am so happy it exists.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Poetry Re-Issue: Hello, Summer!

Summer began this week and school ended hereabouts, too. Seems like a good time for this re-issue....

Hello, Summer!
Gregory K.

Goodbye, classroom!
Goodbye, Teach!
You can find me at the beach...
Or in the park or at the pool
Or any place that isn’t school.

Goodbye, quizzes!
Bye, reports!
Hello days packed full of sports
And days when I’m just lazybones
While eating melty ice cream cones.

Goodbye, homework --
Lunchroom, too.
There’s so, so much I wanna do.
I know the school year flew on past…
But please, please summer -- last and last.

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, June 23, 2010

Here a link, there a link....

Everywhere a link, link!

The 2010 edition of KidLitCon has been announced (October 23 in Minneapolis). You can follow the conference blog for more info. I've been to the first three, and I highly recommend attending if you blog in the broad children's literature space.

Guess who's blogging? No. No. Not her. No... not him. Keep guessing. Give up? Arthur A. Levine, that's who! This is exciting - he's a wonderful writer (with a new book out in 2011 in fact) and now I don't ever have to feel guilty blogging since my editor is doing it, too. (Right????)

And finally... why not check out the first trailer for a documentary about children's literature? It's called Library of the Early Mind, and it will be premiering in October at Harvard, no less! You can follow the movie's blog to stay up to date. I think it looks great.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Brainstormer!

I apologize because I can't remember where I initially saw this link. I know it was on Twitter (and it might have been Colleen Lindsay (and if it wasn't this time, you should follow her anyway regardless)), but that is all I know for a fact.

Anyway, here's The Brainstormer by Andrew Bosley. Is it art? Is it a tool for writers who need to brainstorm ideas or plot points? Is it both? It doesn't matter, frankly... I just think it's cool and will keep you all busy all weekend!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Of possible interest...

Over at my other site, The Happy Accident, I've been yakking a bit about the idea of "branding" when it comes to authors. Or, perhaps NOT branding, as it's a word that rubs a lot of folks the wrong way AND is mighty hard to define anyway.

But for all you authors and illustrators (and maybe even bloggers), whether you like the word 'brand' or not, there are some real opportunities... and pitfalls, too... that you can take advantage of. It's a choice, but ignoring options because you don't like the terminology doesn't seem like a good approach to me.

I'd be curious to hear what you have to say, particularly when it comes to the various suggestions we all seem to hear that we HAVE to be out there helping out books sell. Or is that just a rumor after all?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Packing books. PACKING?!?!?! Again??!!!!

Another school year is coming to an end... and once again, we're moving chunks of our library. A couple thousand books will need to be boxed and moved... then unpacked... then other boxes packed up and moved elsewhere. Sigh.

Five years ago, at one point, I'd vowed never to move another box of books for the school. Currently, I have three boxes here at home that have to be brought in to the library, so you can see how well I've done on that pledge! Still, it's all worth it.

Except for the packing and moving, that is.

I'll be talking about this more as the summer goes on, I imagine, but the newest task our all volunteer library committee has is to start a middle school library. Yeah, that's right. Start another library. For middle school. From scratch.

Any ideas appreciated. Any books are, too. ( And, as always, a hat tip to all of you have sent books over the years (I can almost always cover media mail postage, by the way!). And if you've got a lot of middle grade lying around, be sure to get in touch!

Meanwhile... I'll be packing. Gah!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Go hither and thither....

I actually went thither (to Orlando for the SCBWI Florida Mid Year Conference, where I had the pleasure of presenting with Ed Masessa, author and Scholastic Book Fair guy, and Cynthia Leitich Smith, author and blogger extraordinaire), but in this case I actually mean I've got a few links for ya.

Over at Publishers Weekly's Shelf Talker blog, Elizabeth Bluemle has a thoughtful, action-oriented piece called The Elephant in the Room, all about diversity (or the lack thereof) in publishing. It's a good read... and important, too.

And then, to keep ya busy, over at her Writers Digest blog, Jane Friedman posts links to the articles from the first half of 2010 that she thinks all writers should read. They are gooooooood. I think you should read them, too :-)

Monday, June 07, 2010

Middle Grade Fabooness!

How cool! 26 middle grade authors have teamed up to launch a blog all about middle grade novels. And what a title - From the Mixed-up Files of Middle Grade Authors.

They say they'll be offering up booklists and interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpses and giveaways and more. Doesn't that sound great? Well, it does to this middle-grade loving author and reader, anyway. Go on over and check it out!

Monday, May 31, 2010

An early summer (blog) vacation

It's gonna be quiet around here for a week or so. You have been warned!

May your early June be wonderful....

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Familiar Lament :-)

Another video for your pleasure, sure to be a hit with any author who's done a bookstore signing - Parnell Hall's Signing in the Waldenbooks (which I found courtesy of the talented and generous Sarah Laurenson):

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The "Where's Greg?" Edition

Like Waldo, I've been flitting around from landscape to landscape... though I do not have a camera, a key, a dog, or wizards along with me. It's been fun and adventurous (well, sorta)... but unfortunately, one place I haven't been found much is right here. Ahhh, to be cloned!

One thing I've been doing on my journeys is starting to mull a year-end read-aloud. It's been a fabulous year, and I'd love to end it with a bang. If you know of any brilliant picture book to read to a slew of 2nd-3rd graders to finish off the library year, I hope you'll let me know.

Off to the next picture....

Friday, May 21, 2010

Worlds Collide... and Humor Happens

What happens when one of my favorite groups, Improv Everywhere, teams up with the wonderful New York Public Library? Good things!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When Do You Know?

We had an interesting conversation during #kidlitchat last night about how you know when you've written or read a "winner" of a manuscript. Is it hook? Voice? Something else?

My take on reading from agents, editors, and fellow writers is that there's really an emotional reaction of some sort that lets you know - you want to tell everyone about it; writing scenes makes you laugh or cry (as appropriate!); your characters have a life of their own and you like spending time with them; you miss your subway stop to keep reading. There's also a difference between thinking you've written something fantastic and getting validation from others that proves the point - validation that usually produces an emotional reaction!

It was interesting for me, as I don't know that I'd ever spent time thinking about the question before, and it's hard to come up with a concrete answer. It really is kinda "I'll know it when I see it" situation.

You can find all the #kidlitchat transcripts here (including last night's, May 18th). I found it really interesting to see the different perspectives of what would let you know. And feel free to add yours to the mix, here, too!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Foods That Scare - a scary food poem, a lunch poem

This poem first appeared here at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup, where it looks fabulous! The same post has a recipe of my grandmother's and some quite entertaining comments. You should go see it. I repost the poem here just cuz I can.

Foods That Scare
Gregory K.

Beware of foods with names like "hash."
You can't know what's put in it.
And still don't trust a succotash
If you see the cook begin it.
Have fear of soups if they contain
Mysterious cooked greens.
Also have most great disdain
Of salads called "Five Beans."
A casserole can hide so much.
It's quite a frightening thing.
If there's one food you should not touch,
It's Chicken ala King.
Everybody knows that gruel
Is not a food to munch.
All this is why, when you're in school,
Be sure to bring your lunch.

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is also over at Jama's Alphabet Soup. My word, her posts are so scrumptious it's almost cruel. Go check it out!

And... 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!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cutting Libraries?

I no longer recall where I saw that image first, but you can get it here, and use it under a creative commons license if you'd like. I agree with the sentiments, I must say....

Friday, May 07, 2010

Book Report on the Thesaurus - a homework poem/a thesaurus poem

Book Report on the Thesaurus
Gregory K.

Words? There were lots, very many, a ton.
Plot? There was zero, zilch, zip, nada, none.
I found it enjoyable, likable, fun...
But was glad when it finished, completed, was done.

I'd call this poem a companion (or partner or kissing cousin or... or... or) to my poem Book Report on the Dictionary. What can I say? Reference books inspire me....

This week's Poetry Friday roundup is over at Random Noodling. Head on over and see what else is going on poetically today (including Fibonacci poems by some talented kindergarteners).

And... 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, May 05, 2010


When I was a kid, I collected a lot of different things - baseball cards, bottle caps, buttons (the kind with slogans on them, not clothing buttons), and stamps among them.

Now, here I am as an adult, and I realize that the only thing I seem to be collecting is poetry books. Okay... maybe I'm just accumulating them, rather than truly collecting (it's not curated nor do I ever try to trade for missing titles). Still, the increase over the years is noticeable.

Here's where being a volunteer librarian is great, however - I get to share my collections. And, I'd like to think, new collections will be borne from it. But if not, hey, I'm a happy guy anyway.

And you? Been collecting these days?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Poetry (and the web) = Family Finders?

I hope you've all seen Susan Taylor Brown's post How poetry, Google, and Craigslist helped me find the family I never knew I had. It's a wonderful read about the power of poetry and the web and without a doubt my favorite National Poetry Month story.

The word "wow" comes up a lot in the comments over there. For once, I think it's deserved.

Go on over and check it out. I predict you'll be glad you did!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Thirty Poets/One Day - The 2010 Wrap Up

Sigh. Once again, 30 Poets/30 Days has come to an end. Still, it's been a great month here, so no regrets.

Now, just for fun, here's a review of all the previously unpublished poetry we saw during April:

Alice Schertle - Triolets That Trouble My Sleep
Joseph Bruchac - Bear Path
Laura Purdie Salas - Anaconda
Calef Brown - Re: Me
Carole Boston Weatherford - Move Out!
Jorge Argueta - Cancion De Mango/Mango Song
Susan Marie Swanson - Wonders
Ralph Fletcher - Weeds
Alan Katz - Ch-ch-ch-check, Please
Carmen T. Bernier-Grand - Dancing Fingers
Charles Waters - I Love Being Me
Kathi Appelt - The Ouija
Kurt Cyrus - The Big Snore
Arthur A. Levine - These rules are here for your protection
Eileen Spinelli - Praying Mantis
Bobbi Katz - Lesson
James Carter - Clouds Like Us
Elaine Magliaro - Things To Do If You Are King Kong
David L. Harrison - Lookit!
Brad Bogart - Personification
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer - Cousins of Clouds
Heidi Mordhorst - Smaller Than I Thought
Charles R. Smith, Jr. - I Speak
Georgia Heard - Ars Poetica
George Ella Lyon - Trying to Get Out of My Tree
Jacqueline Woodson - One of the Many Stories
Graham Denton - Sounds Delightful
Francisco X. Alarcón - Listen/Escucha
Liz Garton Scanlon - Reflecting
Walter Dean Myers - Walking

There are many people to thank in regards to 30 Poets/30 Days, but I'll try to be brief. First off, I must thank the generosity of this year's 30 poets - without them, you'd've seen 30 blank pages! I tip my hat again to last year's 30 poets for making the event possible at all, as well as for their suggestions, encouragement, and support this year, too. Truly, the children's literature community never ceases to amaze.

I want to give a shout-out to the amazing bloggers of the Kidlitosphere for their enthusiasm and talent. What an amazing bunch! To Bonnie Adamson for the logos and the extra #kidlitchat support this month? You rock! To all the folks who linked here or tweeted about the project or the poems or used Facebook or left comments... I tip my virtual hat to you once more. And finally... to all of you who read and shared the poetry this month, yay!

I think I can speak for everyone on this year and last year's list when I say that poetry is a year round thing, not just April. I look forward to more poems and poets here in the months ahead... and I hope you stick around. More will be coming soon, but now? Now, I gotta book.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Walter Dean Myers - Walking

Walter Dean Myers

How come my feet know how to meet
The sidewalk as I walk?
          “Because of your brain, my love.”
How come my lips don’t ever slip
As I begin to talk?
          “Your lovely brain, my pet”
How come my knees fly through the breeze
As I race along?
          “Did I mention your B-R-A-I-N?”
How come my ears know what to hear
When I listen to a song?
          “They’re connected to your brain!”
How come my eyes can judge the size
Of everything they see?
          “Your brain, dummy!”
How come my wrists know how to twist
A knob or turn a key?
          “BRAIN! BRAIN! BRAIN! Use it!”
And how come my belly button just sits there in the middle of my stomach without doing one little bit of work, gets these little lint things in it, and feels funny if I touch it?

          “Err…beats me.”

© Walter Dean Myers. All rights reserved.

Walter Dean Myers has won five (FIVE!!!) Coretta Scott King Awards, had a pair of Newbery Honor books, won the very first Michael L. Printz award, and won YALSA's Margaret A. Edwards Award, an award which recognizes an author's body of work, back in 1994... and just look at what he's done since! He writes fiction, non-fiction, novels, picture books and poetry. And as if he doesn't do enough for children's literature by himself, he's a character in and one of his poems is central to Sharon Creech's Love That Dog, which I mention here in part because 1) it is why in my head he is often "Mr. Walter Dean Myers" and 2) I can link you to the fabulous video of him, Sharon Creech, Sarah Weeks, and Avi performing Love That Dog.

For me, Walking is a wonderful way to close out this month of poetry here at GottaBook. It's fun, adds up to more than you expect, shows those skills great poets have of capturing a voice and putting a fresh spin on a situation, and, well, it makes me laugh. Plus, I love the seeing the brain get its due... though I do wish the poem offered an answer to the final question because it's always flummoxed me, too! Ah well. Even though he didn't give us the answer, I am totally thrilled to have Walter Dean Myers here to bring the 2010 edition of 30 Poets/30 Days to a close.

It's Poetry Friday (a year round tradition!), so why not head on over to Great Kid Books for the roundup of poetry related posts?

Yesterday brought us Reflecting by Liz Garton Scanlon. Tomorrow... a final wrap up.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Liz Garton Scanlon - Reflecting

Liz Garton Scanlon

I’m your moody friend with a changing face
looking out from deep in space.

I’m peppermint candy, cold but sweet,
and lantern light on a sleepy street.

I’m not afraid of howling dogs,
I cut through morning’s thickest fogs.

I brighten baby’s lullaby
with a twinkle in my eye.

I conduct the ocean tides
and set the stage for midnight rides.

A calendar for keeping time –
sharp as a sword, round as a dime.

I tempt the astronauts each night
while I rob Sun of extra light.

Golden as an apple pie,
but twice as big and twice as high.

Waxing now but soon I’ll wane,
then always come around again.

Friend to possums, hungry bats,
spotlight for the prowling cats,

I share my shine, for what it’s worth,
with everyone upon the earth.

I’m your companion in the sky
but do you know me? Who am I?

© 2010 Liz Garton Scanlon. All rights reserved.

Liz Garton Scanlon teaches, writes poetry and picture books, and blogs (including a haiku a day this April to celebrate National Poetry Month) among other things. Her book All the World - for which illustrator Marla Frazee received a Caldecott Honor - came out last year and has ended up on, by my count, a skadillion end of the year/best book/award lists... and counting. And, if you've read it or heard it read aloud, you know why - it's a wonderful poem on its own yet it also serves as an incredible picture book text (a different beast entirely!). And it's wonderfully illustrated to boot. Yes, you should buy it. Of course! Give it to someone you love.

I noticed, as All the World was getting acclaim, that everywhere I looked - Twitter, the blogosphere, Facebook, email lists, etc. - people were really, genuinely happy for Liz. I mean, like really happy in a way that is more than just "good for you!" And I realized that felt it too... even though I was just a blog reader and one time co-Cybils judge who barely knew Liz. My theory is that it's because if you read her blog or All the World or her poetry, you're confronted with a love of life, family, nature, and constant dollops of hope. It's infectious in the best way, says my theory, and you root for more of it. Whatever it may be, I also love her writing - her observations (look at how many ways she could describe the moon!), her use of language, her sense of humor. All that is why I can state as a fact, not a theory, that I'm thrilled to have Liz Garton Scanlon here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, we saw Listen/Escucha by Francisco X. Alarcón. Tomorrow... Walking by Walter Dean Myers! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Francisco X. Alarcón - Listen/Escucha

Francisco X. Alarcón


“listen, mijito
we are never
really alone”

my grandma
to my ear

like a flapping
in the dark

“the wind
the stars
the sea

never stop
speaking to
each of us”

“escucha, mijito
nunca estamos
solos en realidad”

me susurra
mi abuelita
como colibrí

junto a mi oído
en la oscuridad

“el viento
las estrellas
el mar

a cada uno
no nos dejan
de hablar”

© 2010 Francisco X. Alarcón. All rights reserved.

Francisco X. Alarcón is an award winning poet, a college professor, and someone who can write his poetry in either English or Spanish (or both), for either children or adults (or both), and about whimsical topics or pressing issues of the day (or both and everything in between!).  Please check out the Poetry Makers profile at the Miss Rumphius Effect for more insights into his writing process and poetry. I'll wait here, because I have a story to tell. You're back? Great!

When I first started gathering books for the school library I've helped build, I got a large donation from a couple that was closing a school they'd been running. One of the books I got was Bellybutton of the Moon (illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez), and it became a favorite of mine on reading number one. On reading three, I happened to notice that it was signed to the couple's son, so I got in touch to see if this was really something they'd intended to give me or if their son might, in fact, want it back. Of course he wanted it! I mean, I wanted it already, so I was not surprised. I mailed it back then went on my own quest to get a copy for the library... where it was one of the very first books I shelved. So for that reason, as well as the fact that I'm just plain old a fan, I must say I'm absolutely thrilled to have Francisco X. Alarcón here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, we saw Sounds Delightful by Graham Denton. Tomorrow... Reflecting by Liz Garton Scanlon! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Graham Denton - Sounds Delightful

Sounds Delightful
Graham Denton

Sounds of scary night-time creatures:
howling wolves and screeching bats,
wailing witches, cackling demons,
giggling goblins, keening cats;
ghostly sounds to make one shiver:
haunting screams and ghastly groans;
rattling chains and shrieks of horror—
noises that will chill the bones;
creaking floorboards, footsteps creeping,
voices from beyond the grave...
when they’re having trouble sleeping
that’s what infant monsters crave!

©2010 Graham Denton. All rights reserved.

Graham Denton writes poetry (which often makes me laugh), anthologizes poetry (in collections that often make me laugh), and has even sent me email that makes me laugh. Then again, he sent an email that made things difficult for me, too - for 30 Poets/30 Days, he sent me around 20 poems and asked me to pick! My process went something like this: read first one and say "Aha! This one!" then read the next and say "No, wait - this one!" then read the next one and change my mind again and so on and so on and so on.

It is not true that I made my final choice by playing a game of chance. Instead, I chose Sounds Delightful because I love the point of view and absolutely had a blast reading it aloud. Try it yourself and see. Fun, yes? Now try it with kids present and listen to them laugh at the turn around in the last sentence and, depending on their age, see them giggle or squirm before then. Good times, indeed, and a poetic skill which is just one of the reasons I'm thrilled to have Graham Denton here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, Jacqueline Woodson gave us One of the Many Stories. Tomorrow, Listen/Escucha by Francisco X. Alarcón! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jacqueline Woodson - One of the Many Stories

One of the Many Stories
Jacqueline Woodson

When the puppy in the road was
mine, life didn't stop
for the driver. That evening perhaps
he read his son one of many stories
grownups write for children
about dogs. Perhaps
this one found its way
Home. The End. Then kissed his child
center crown as always, the meat
his wife was roasting, nearly done
by the time the vet pronounced
Bella dead at four months, one half
hour before my daughter, at six, discovered
a new way tomorrow could get here
tears to whimpering then finally sleep
a plastic bone beneath her pillow from this moment on,
safe still from towers burning, a car moving fast
against traffic as the children inside squeal
themselves to death. A pan of oil too close
to an open flame     She Is, I think
safe still from other stories.

Night and the driver
couldn't see a black puppy bolting
Didn't know
that deep in her German Shepherd blood
was a desire for the only story she knew
Let's call it "Home"

so when the door was cracked
she saw the promise of black night
caught scent of her recent journey
thought she knew the way
back to us
One half mile away from where I stood
packing, now pondering black linen shorts
now folding a Mama For Obama t-shirt into my bag
now smiling over our daughter's first
pink bikini as our dogsitters searched and found
our number. Already, our trip
to the Caribbean was becoming another story
of another almost-thing, puppy-blood warm
freezing fast for us into
On the corner of Pacific and Bond that February

©2010 Jacqueline Woodson. All rights reserved.

Jacqueline Woodson has received three (three!) Newbery Honors, the Coretta Scott King Award, been nominated for the National Book Award and been an NBA finalist, ended up on numerous book of the year lists and, most importantly of all, writes picture books and novels that resonate with children (and adults) who read them. No surprise, really - she writes honestly and powerfully about issues and emotions small and large (as her poem here today is testament). There's no manipulation in her work, simply connection.

I love her novel-in-poems Locomotion, but it was with Show Way (illustrated by Hudson Talbott) that I had my own personal "Woodson-epiphany" or something like that. That wonderfully poetic book is autobiographical, about the maternal line in her family. Yet it's so pitch perfect that this white male dad could read it aloud in front of a group of kids and feel completely natural giving voice to the story. It guided me along and kept me totally connected (via family traditions? parent-child issues? loss? All of the above?) despite the differences. To quote the text but turning it about the book itself: "I loved that baby up." Indeed I did (and do). In case it's not clear, I'm a fan... and I'm totally thrilled to have Jacqueline Woodson here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, we saw George Ella Lyon's Trying To Get Out of My Tree. Tomorrow... Sounds Delightful by Graham Denton. For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.