"KEEPING YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME" via Write On!

Confession time: I suffer from major book envy. Jen Kam's middle grade novel, Devin Rhodes is Dead (If it's not on your Must Read list, it should be.) is one of those that really makes me suffer with "I wish I could write like this" emerald green pangs. So when Jen invited me to guest post on "Write Now!" what I call Jen's version of the Algonquin Round Table (minus the Tinis), I was thrilled.

Rather than chatter on here, I invite you to click over to "Write On!" to find out how I keep my head in the game--and screwed on at all--in the midst of all the everything else but sitting "Butt In Chair" (As my friend The Book Doctor calls it).

As an extra incentive Jen's giving-away 3 signed copies of the special Jumpstart Read for the Record© edition of Not Norman, A Goldfish Story (Spanish or English version)--read all about it, sign-up and comment to win . . .

Write Now!

And when you're finished reading Jen's blog, check out her debut novel.  Here's the 4-1-1:

Devin Rhodes Is Dead by Jennifer Wolf Kam

Devin Rhodes.jpg

4.24 of 5 starsTold in alternating "Before" and "After" chapters, Kam's novel focuses on the events leading up to and just after Cass's best friend Devin's body is found at the bottom of a local ravine. Part realism, part ghost story, and part coming-of-age tale, this young adult novel will draw you in and keep you turning pages until the dramatic conclusion.

For the Record: Story Behind Guinness's Book

To paraphrase Patsy, Have I got records on my mind! How could I not? My huge worry, since Jumpstart selected NOT NORMAN as its READ FOR THE RECORD© book for 2015, is that You-We-They might not to sign up to read on Oct. 22nd?! And miss what could be—will be if you help—The World’s Largest Shared Reading Experience ever—for The Record!

What exactly is The Record???

Well, since you asked: Guinness World Records (GWR), formerly known as The Guinness Book of Records and The Guinness Book of World Records, is an annually published listing of world records of “both human achievements and the extremes of the natural world.”

Sir Hugh Beaver, Quite the Shot!

Sir Hugh Beaver, Quite the Shot!

On the record: As it happened, Sir Hugh Beaver, Chairman of Guinness Breweries, on a shooting party in the North Slob, the morning of Nov. 10, 1951, took a shot at a golden plover, and missed—Lucky Plover, that!

An argument between the no doubt grumpy Sir Hugh and his cronies erupted over which was the fastest game bird in Europe: the golden plover or the red grouse? Later, back at Castlebridge House, while attempting to settle the argument, Sir Hugh realized it was impossible! There was no reference book to confirm what he knew to be true—that the golden plover was indeed Europe’s fastest game bird. (BTW: It is.[7][8]) Harumph!

1st Edition, Aug. 27, 1955

1st Edition, Aug. 27, 1955

It struck Sir Hugh that there were undoubtedly “numerous other questions debated nightly in pubs throughout Ireland and abroad,” -hopefully over pints of Guinness-but no book with which to settle such arguments. As one would, Sir Hugh took the problem to work with him.

As they say, the rest is, on Aug. 27th—my mom’s birth date—60 years history! The 1st Guinness Book of Records, a 198-page edition was presented to top-selling Guinness sellers for Christmas.

It was a marketing give away – it wasn’t supposed to be a money maker.
— –Sir Hugh Beaver

Speaking of Records: The book itself holds a world record: It’s the Best-selling copyright book of all time! (Excluding non-copyright works such as the Bible and the Koran.) And, although GWR doesn’t currently hold this record, (it did until 2000), it’s one of the Most Frequently Stolen Library Books in the U.S.[3] (Can’t tell you what’s #1. The FBI compiled a list—but it’s top secret.) 

Call me obsessed, but I did a search to find out if there were any World Record Goldfish.

I found some:

But, I didn’t find any record for the Most People Reading a Goldfish Book or for the Most Widely Read Goldfish. (Norman could so set that one—He is a voracious reader!)  

Which means, on Oct. 22nd we’re going for THE TRIPLE CROWN (gold, of course)! Sign Up now to Read for the Record

 http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-for-the-record

For The Record Playlist:

And in case, like Norman, you aspire to greatness:  How to Set A World Record 

Wanna keep in touch? Click on SUBSCRIBE  to receive email notification when entries are posted on Kelly's Fishbowl.

The "O-Fish-Al" Story via Jumpstart

Still flip-flopping over the news that thanks to Jumpstart, on October 22, 2015, Not Norman, A Goldfish Story will star in (with your help--please--help) The World's Largest EVER Shared Reading Event: Read for the Record®, Yes, NORMAN! Of course I jumped at the chance to guest post on the Jumpstart blog.

Then I freaked: Oh my!

How many kazillion folks read the Jumpstart blog?

I mean, dang, Jumpstart is a national early education organization...

It's not that I'm not used to writing blog posts. (After 10 years of pert-darn-near regular weekly posts, I should be.) But I write those blog posts to and for YOU, my peeps, whose names and faces I picture as I'm writing. I write my posts the way,  if letters were still our sole mode of long-distance communication, I would have writen, enveloped, sealed, stamped and mailed a letter to you.  (And yes, I know some of them, last post, for example, are a lot on the wordy side...aka Windy.)

So, nervous+delighted+honored, I wrote a guest post for the Jumpstart Blog. In it, I shared the story of how I got Norman--the story idea, not the goldfish...or are they one in the same? And, well, chock it up to excitement or nervousness, but, I may have gotten a little carried away.  I included some photos and may have shared more than I should have. You decide. As Nanny always said, "Words are one thing you can't take back."

Here's the link to the July 8, 2015 Jumpstart Blog Post: NOT NORMAN: THE O-FISH-AL STORY.

Happy Reading! (And please don't stop there . . . )

Jumpstart.jpg

NORMAN AND I NEED YOUR HELP to make this year's World Read-Aloud the largest ever! (We do want to do our goldfish proud, don't we?)

Sign up to Read for the Record® on October 22, 2015 at readfortherecord.org.

Pre-order your special edition of Not Norman, register to read, and download free activity materials and resources at Jumpstart.

Honoring Lucky the Goldfish

Lucky the Goldfish is long gone. If I remember the story correctly, Lucky was a carnival goldfish my editor, Sarah, won at a fair. You know those Toss the Coin in the Fishbowl & Win games? Hence his name.

A Carnival Goldfish’s early life is not an easy one: Moving all the time; Late nights; Loud Music; Constantly dodging flying coins; grubby fingers messing in your water; fingers poking at your bowl . . .

Even those fortunate enough to be WON and taken to good homes, don’t usually live long. Mine didn’t. Lucky was truly one of the “lucky ones.” So was Sarah.

I've been thinking much about luck since I learned Jumpstart had chose my fishy little story to be their Read for the Record® 2015 book. Imagine: from all the noteworthy picture books published in the last 10 years they selected Not Norman, my goldfish story, illustrated by the funny, creative Noah Z. Jones. From conception to now, ours--Lucky's, Norman's & Mine--has been a true luck story!

This is  not  Lucky. Nor is this Lucky's bowl! Lucky lived in a nice tank with  bubbles !

This is not Lucky. Nor is this Lucky's bowl! Lucky lived in a nice tank with bubbles!

For more than 9 years after Sarah carried her goldfish prize  home from the carnival in its plactic bag, Lucky flapped and fluttered around in his bowl, blowing bubbles, gobbling nibbles. He made sure Sarah never came home to an empty house.

And, in his quiet, fishy way, Lucky was responsible for my story, NOT NORMAN, A Goldfish Story being published.

Several years back, say 2002 or earlier, my agent heard Sarah speak at a conference. During the Q&A following Sarah’s presentation some one asked the question everyone always asks editors: Is there any story you are looking for?

Sarah burst into her Lucky the Goldfish story and shared how she would love, love, soooooo love to receive a manuscript about a goldfish. (I’ll have to ask her how many goldfish manuscripts she's received since.)

As it so happened, I had goldfish—a pond full of them—and a Goldfish picture book manuscript: Not Norman. The rest, as they say, is history.

The  Jumpstart edition , in English & Spanish support their efforts to help children read & succeed!

The Jumpstart edition, in English & Spanish support their efforts to help children read & succeed!

People who call themselves “real pet people” i.e. dog, cat, horse, snake, bird, lizard, hamster lovers poke fun at us fishy folks. They think the only good pet is one who crawls, slithers, climbs or claws. They need the tactile connection those types of pets provide.

We fishy folks are beyond all that. We appreciate fish for what they are and do: A lot of what looks like nothing.

Fish swim around in their watery worlds, drifting, floating, bubbling,  dreaming fishing dreams while the rest of us are rushing, rushing, doing, wanting, driving and begging for more.

The only begging Lucky ever did was a meal time. And that wasn’t begging, really. That was more like a reminder: Hey! Yoo Hoo! Remember me while you’re stuffing that cracker into your gullet! How’s about tossing me a treat, too, while you’re at it?

Here’s to Lucky the Goldfish!           

Join Jumpstart's efforts to combat the word gap! Here's how: Sign up to Read for the Record® on October 22, 2015 at readfortherecord.org. Pre-order your special edition of Not Norman, register to read, and download free activity materials and resources at Jumpstart.*

And, next time you find yourself at a Carnival, try your chances at the Goldfish Game. Who knows, you might get Lucky!

Honoring Lucky Playlist:

*BTW: Noah and I do not earn royalties for this; Proceeds fund Jumpstart's efforts.

Wanna keep in touch? Click on SUBSCRIBE  to receive email notification when entries are posted on Kelly's Fishbowl.

10-22-2015 WHO'S READING FOR THE RECORD? NOT NORMAN!

You know the song from Guys and Dolls, the one Sister Sarah sings after she loses the bet against Sky Masterson and pays up by going with him to Havana? Cue the music: Ask me how to I feel . . . Well, Sir, all I can say is if I were a gate I'd be swing-ing!/And if I were a watch I'd start/ popping my springs!/Or if I were a bell I'd go ding dong, ding dong ding! 

Add to that, If I were a fish I’d be flip-ping! Because that’s how I’ve been feeling since I heard the big news—Like that swing-ing gate, that spring-popping watch, that ding-dong-ing bell, that fish!  Some of you may know why. For those who don’t, cue the trumpet!

My little book, NOT NORMAN, A GOLDFISH STORY, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (Candlewick Press), is Jumpstart’s Read for the Record book for 2015!!!

What’s that mean? Only that, on October 22, 2015 children and adults will read Not Norman together, aloud, it what can become—for the Record—the world’s largest shared reading experience! You, too, I hope.

In case you don’t know, Jumpstart is a non-profit early education organization with a mission of helping every child in America enters school prepared to succeed. Their motto is:

How does it work?Jumpstart recruits and trains college students and community volunteers to work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Through a proven curriculum, these children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for school, setting them on a path to close the achievement gap before it is too late.”

Jumpstart’s Read for the Record, began in 2006, to raise awareness of the achievement gap and Jumpstart's work with preschool children in low-income neighborhoods—and to raise funds to support programs. Candlewick Press, Jumpstart’s partner in the 2015 campaign, in addition to other contributions, will donate some 13,000 copies of the Jumpstart special edition (available in Spanish & English) to ensure that anyone who wants to participate, can!

Thrilled as I was when Jumpstart announced Not Norman as the 2015 Read for the Record book, the magnitude of this honor didn’t really register until I did some digging into the history of past campaigns. Since 2006, when more than 150 thousand children & adults read The Little Engine that Could on the same day, thus earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records*, funds raised, number of books given to children—for many their first book—and number of children & adult participating has burgeoned. The record high to date is almost 4.3 million, set in 2012, when children & adults reading the same book on the same day! Totally freaks me out to think my little fishy story is on the list with such time-honored classics, all for a single purpose: Helping children read & succeed!

For the record: Yes, learning to read the words in a picture book is the goal. But we all know it’s the picture on the cover that compels children to pick up a book, and the illustrations inside that keep them turning—and returning—to those pages. Let’s hear it for Noah Z. Jones!

I first met Noah Z. Jones at a school event  6 years  after Not Norman was published.

I first met Noah Z. Jones at a school event 6 years after Not Norman was published.

Believe it or not, Not Norman is Noah’s first picture book! And, bucking traditional illustration techniques, Noah utilized his animation background and tech-know-how while he was at it; the art for Not Norman by computer!

Way back then, 2002-3, computer generated illustrations in picture books were unheard of. In fact, some reviewers scoffed. The rest of us, especially kids & I, loved it! One look at that cover, at that boy’s face peeking through the fishbowl with Norman as his nose, and I just have to laugh-every time!

You know, the 3rd thing I did, after learning Not Norman, a Goldfish Story, had been named Jumpstart's Read for the Record book for 2015? I went on a crazed Internet search. I looked up everything I could about Jumpstart, all about past Read for the Record Campaigns, and of course, the other 9 Read for the Record books.  You can bet my mind was ding-dong, flippin! Here's the list:

JUMPSTART Read for the Record books:

2006: The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper (more than 150,000 children & adults read the story on the same day, earning that 1st  spot in The Guinness Book of World Records.)

2007: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (258,000 children & adults participated)

2008: Corduroy written by Don Freeman (688,000 participated)

2009: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (2,019,752 participated)

2010: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (2,057,513 participated)

2011 Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (2,185,155 participated)

2012: Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad by David Soman & Jacky Davis (4, 2,385,305 participated)

2013 Otis by Loren Long (2,462,860 children & adults participated)

2014 Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells (2,383,645 children & adults participated)

Add to that:

Not Norman, A Goldfish Story, by Kelly Bennett & Noah Z. Jones (How many children & adults participate on October 22, 2015 is up to us . . . )

What’s especially exciting is that this is Jumpstart’s Read for the Record and Not Norman’s 10th birthday! I sure hope you’ll join me in helping to make this 10th campaign a record breaker. Here’s How:

Mark Your Calendars: READ FOR THE RECORD DAY is October 22, 2015

Pledge to Read: http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/register-read

Get Involved: Donate! Join the Team! Be a Sponsor! http://jstart.org/get-involved/get-involved1

Buy the Jumpstart Special Edition of Not Norman: http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/jumpstart-shop  (English & Spanish available):

Play Around: Check out the free resources on the Jumpstart Toolkit: http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/toolkit

Spread the Word: Please share the Jumpstart Read for the Record link on social media word-of-mouth, too! http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-for-the-record

Who's Reading for the Record? Playlist:

Wanna keep in touch? Click on SUBSCRIBE  to receive email notification when entries are posted on Kelly's Fishbowl.