Mosquito, Don't Ya Know!

I should have known I was in for it when the 4th forms started giggling before they started reading... (read why later in the post).

I should have known I was in for it when the 4th forms started giggling before they started reading... (read why later in the post).

Turn around is the best play! 

My last school visit as a resident of Trinidad & Tobago was to Guayaguayare R.C School, and what a treat! Instead of me entertaining them, the students, each grade in turn from 1st to 4th form (ages 5-10), shared their stories with the other students, teachers, visitors from Bridge Foundation, and me!

As part of its "Read to Rise," early literacy program, Bridge Foundation works with students and teachers in some of Trinidad's most needy areas, including Guayaguayare R.C. school.

Guayagyayare (pronounced exactly as it looks, with a Trini accent, yes I practiced heaps) is about 2 1/2 hour drive south-east of Port Of Spain. Reginald Holder, a Bridge Foundation staffer and long-time supporter before that, was kind enough to drive me down. (I'm thinking he and Anthea were worried I might not make it if I drove myself.) They might well have been on to something, some of the towns we passed through looked inviting and the beaches, spectacular. Here's a photo of the coconut palm lined highway in nearby Mayaro. That's the beach just to the left of the road, about 50 feet. (Now you see the temptation...)

Bridge's Founder,  Anthea McLaughlin, is a former Jumpstart board member, so naturally, when she moved to Trinidad about 7 years ago, she brought  Read for the Record® with her.

Jamie Tan from Candlewick Press hooking up the webcast on 10-22-15

Jamie Tan from Candlewick Press hooking up the webcast on 10-22-15

Now it's an annual part of the Read to Rise curriculum. And this year it was huge! Through Bridge Foundation's efforts 92 Trinidad and Tobago schools and almost 30,000 children and adults took part in the shared reading experience. Including the students and staff at Guayaguayare and Mayaro schools. What's more, Bridge Foundation gave every student at this school a book, and 2 copies each to the 90 other schools! 30,000 students, that's about 20% of Trinidad's children! 

Already acquainted with Norman, the 1st form students (4-5) were brilliantly equipped to respond to the prompt: When I got Norman, I didn't want to keep him.

(Can you guess which was Norman's fav?)

Through Bridge Foundation’s efforts 92 Trinidad and Tobago schools and almost 30,000 children and adults took part in the shared reading experience

Along with readings by celebrities who put a "Trini" spin on the story, Bridge partners created a slew of activities built around the theme of Pet and Sea-responsibility. Here's more about Bridge Foundation and Read for the Record® day 2015! 

Which is where I came in. Reginald read that I lived in Trinidad, he told Anthea who got in touch with me. Three heads together over coffee came up with a plan for me to give a workshop to UWI 2nd year Creative Art students on picture books, which they would then use to help Guayaraguayare students WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE their own stories. The books are being created as we speak! And having met the students, I know they will be amazing! (I'll share some if I can.) 

The really really fun part came after my presentation. 2nd form students, with hands clasped & sincerity gave a rousing rendition of their Trini version of There Was an Old Man Who Swallowed a Mosquito--

It had the Zeeka Virus, don’t ya know...
He swallowed a lizard to eat the mos-qui-TO
That wiggled and jiggled down to his gizzard!

Q&A session was hillarious! Of course one asked my age...and if my goldfish ever died, because their's did!

Bridge Foundation donated stacks of copies of Not Norman that will be given as prizes later. I was thrilled to sign them. Principal Burt Wiseman is fab and welcoming!

The grand finale was 4th Form's surprise. A recital of a brand new poem penned in Norman's honor! 

I should have known their was something, er...fishy going on when they lined up looking like they were up to something. Turns out Bridge's resident poet, Shurla Blade, had composed a poem in honor of my friendly little fish, Norman. They could not stop smiling even while reciting. Imagine my shock & Surprise: 

What do I get from school visits? Besides hugs and smiles--and being made to feel like a rockstar for a day? Images of those earnest, interested, bright children to hold, a reminder of who I'm writing for and why. 

WHO SAYS GOLDFISH DON'T READ?

Jumpstart's Read for the Record© Day 2015 is over, but does that mean we stop reading? NO WAY! Not me & NOT NORMAN!

Norman the Goldfish loves story time! And he definitely has his favorite books. How do I know? 

Definitely  NOT  Norman!

Definitely NOT Norman!

When Norman likes a book he becomes so engrossed in the story, he shoves his stubby orange goldfish snout right up against the side of his fishbowl. Norman doesn’t budge, doesn’t even glug until the very last page—unless there’s a funny part, that is. (Norman blows bubbles during funny parts.)

But, you think he’ll stick around for a story he doesn’t like? Not Norman. If Norman doesn’t like a story, he spits sand, or goes behind his plant and hides until it’s finished.

Over the years, Norman and I have read scads of picture books. As our way of thanking  Jumpstart and everyone who Read for the Record© 10-22-2015, (and to make sure you have plenty of books to read until next year's campaign begins), we've compiled a list of Norman’s favorites. Surprise! Surprise! They all feature fish… go figure?

(BTW: Just because a book is about fish, or has the word “Goldfish” in the title, doesn’t mean it’s on the list. These are Norman Approved!)

Norman the Goldfish's List of Fish-Tastic Picture Books: 

  1. Louis the Fish by Arthur Yorinks, illus. by Richard Egielski (Like Mr. Limpet!)
  2. A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer, illus. by P.D. Eastman (Mrs. & Dr. Suess)
  3. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss(I Can Read It All by Myself)
  4. The Goldfish in the Chandelier by Casie Kesterson, illus. by Gary Hovland
  5. Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illus. by Tim Bowers
  6. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illus. by  Dan Hanna  
  7. Dear Fish by Chris Gall
  8. Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau, illus. by Scott Magoon
  9. Goldfish and Chrysanthemums by Andrea Cheng, illus. by Michelle Chang
  10. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
  11. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  12. Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins
  13. Sophie’s Fish by A.E. Cannon, illus. by Lee White
  14. 10 Friendly Fish by Debbie Tarbet
  15. The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino
  16. Orangey the Goldfish by Eddie Bee, Illus. by Teri Lee
  17. My Goldfish by Stephanie Barroux
  18. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Dave McKean
  19. The Unhappy Goldfish by Paul Dallimore
  20. Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Bob Shea
  21. Nugget and Fang by Tammi Sauer, illus. by Michael Slack
  22. What About My Goldfish? by Pamela D. Greenwood, illus. by Jennifer Plecas (Early Chapter Book)
  23. Young Cam Jansen and the Goldfish Mystery by David A. Adler, illus. by Susanna Natti (Early Chapter Book)
  24. My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O'Hara, illus. by Marek Jagucki (Series for 7-10 year olds)               
  25. The Two-Thousand-Pound Goldfish by Betsy Byars (Chapter Book)
  26. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Fun Book by Barbara Barbieri McGrath, illus. by Rob Bolster & Frank Mazzola (Goldfish crackers, not Norman!!!)

Norman says “Goldfish keepers needs How-To-Care for Goldfish Guides.” Here are 2 we like:

 

  • Goldie’s Guide to Caring for Your Goldfish by Anita Ganeri & Rick Peterson
  • 101 Facts About Goldfish by Julia Barnes  

 

Can't stop the reading! 

Next week, after a thorough scrubbing and a few laps around the bowl, it'll be back to life as usual & back with my usual posts (which focus on whatever might be swirling around). If you'd like to stay in touch, please click on SUBSCRIBE  to receive e-mail notification when entries are posted on Kelly's Fishbowl.

WHO YA CALLING a "SCAREDY FISH"?

Yes! Norman!   Okay, if you've read the book, you know how brave Norman the Goldfish can be. Especially late at night. When it's super dark. And some strange, super creepy something is scratching at the window. But...

SCRITCH, SCREECH! What's that noise?

SCRITCH, SCREECH! What's that noise?

Everybody's afraid of something (Okay, maybe not everybody, but almost everybody) even Norman the Goldfish.

In fact, I can think of 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 things that really really creep Norman out. (And all of them begin with the same 3-letter word that we are never, ever, even in the most extraordinary cases allowed to say--or even think--around Norman's Fishbowl.)

However, because Not Norman is Jumpstart's 2015 Read for the Record© bookand frankly, Norman's been acting like he was a little too big for his fishbowl lately, I'm going to share that list with you. But only if you register to Read for the Record© 10-22-2015 !  Promise? I'll even give you a hint.

Hint: What animal has fur and pointy ears and 4 paws and purrs? 

Norman’s Top 10 Scariest-Yuckiest-Grossest-Freakiest-Worst Things Ever List:

1.       Scariest Villian?      Catwoman

2.       Scariest Boat?     Catamaran

3.       Yuckiest Herb?      Catnip

4.       Scariest Sight in the Sky?      Catbird

5.       Scariest Plant?     Cattail

6.       Worst Thing to Find in the Mailbox?     Catalog

7.       Gunky-est Condiment?    Catsup

8.       Scariest Sound in the Whole World?   Caterwaul

9.       Freakiest Insect?   Caterpillar

10.   Scariest Fish (even scarier than sharks)?   Catfish

NOT YOUR AVERAGE GOLDFISH

Just because Norman the Goldfish swims around and around and around...inside a fishbowl all day, you might think he's empty-headed. You'd be wrong!

Norman far from your average goldfish. In addition to pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, Norman loves music. Sure Tuba music is his favorite, but he likes all different kinds of music, especially if it's fishy. In preparation for Jumpstart's Read for the Record© 10-22-2015, we've compiled his music playlist. (Norman glugged them; I wrote them down.)

Norman the Goldfish’s Music Playlist:

Norman says, There are way too many fishing songs out, far too few fish songs. These are his favorite fishy songs in order of glugs recieved:

  1. Under the Sea from The Littlest Mermaid
  2. Octupus’s Garden by The Beatles
  3. Fish Gotta Swim from Showboat, sung by Ava Gardner
  4. Somewhere Beyond the Sea, sung by Bobbie Darin
  5. Three Little Fishies by Wake-Up Group
  6. There’s A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea by Katie Cutie Kids TV
  7. Swim by Jack Mannequin 
  8. Let’s Go Swimming by The Wiggles 
  9. If I Were a Fish by Katie Cutie Kids TV
  10. Barracuda by Heart
  11. Rock Lobster by the B52s

Bonus: Punniest Fish Song of all time (How could we not include this?):

If you aren't registered yet, whatcha waiting for? Here's the link to  Jumpstart's    Read for the Record© 10-22-2015  :   http://conta.cc/1L97qpM

If you aren't registered yet, whatcha waiting for? Here's the link to Jumpstart's Read for the Record© 10-22-2015http://conta.cc/1L97qpM

Confessions of a Former World Record Holder

Home of the Oilers. the Tower still stands.

Home of the Oilers. the Tower still stands.

t was The Bicentennial Year: 1976 (and all that entails)! The Country was turning 200! Our school, Huntington Beach High School was turning 70! We were graduating! And we wanted to leave our mark on the world! What better way that to set a world recorded! Recorded for all eternity in THE Guinness Book of World Records!  

And so the launch to find a record to break began. As this was one of those last minute Brilliant Ideas, there were limitations to our record-breaking abilities. Any record we broke had to be:

  1. Easy
  2. Cheap
  3. Fast (It was the next-to-the-last, if not the last day of school)
This is not us, but this is what we did.

This is not us, but this is what we did.

We had one thing going for us: Bodies! Our graduating class of more than 1500, was one of the largest, if not the largest, in HBHS history.

It took some doing, but someone (s), somehow came up with a record to break: Lap Sitting

Then came the question: How exactly are we supposed to achieve this Group Lap Sit?

I haven't thought about that day for well, pert near 2 score years (2 score is so much less painful than the alternatives). And if not for Jumpstart’s Read for the Record®  campaign featuring Not Norman, I probably wouldn't be confessing now. (BTW: If you haven’t signed up to read Not Norman on 10-22 please do. Everyone can. All you need to do is gather a group of folks to read to and register. Click over to www.readfortherecord.org for all the info.)

That day was hot, hot, HOT! (A rare occurrence in Huntington Beach, California, even in June). I remember me and my girlfriends—Valerie, Michelle, Theresa, Cathy, Lori, Myrna, —glossed up for the occasion (Bonnie Bell “Lip Smackers”) in hopes TV News camera really did come out for the event, and hope of hopes, snapped a photo of us!!!

In an effort to look like Farrah, I’d permed my hair. (We all wanted to look like Farrah…or Kate or Jaclyn, the other of Charlie’s Angels) Big mistake—judging from photos through the years, just the first of too many “hair disasters”—so instead looked more like Barbara.

Everyone gathered on the track to break the Lap-Sitting record.

The P.E. Coaches, whistles drawn, corralled us into one single file line winding around the track.Then came the question: How exactly are we supposed to achieve this Group Lap Sit?  (Remember this is way before the Internet; there were no How-To videos to Google)

What I recall were many hilarious starts to the Lap Sit which definitely resulted in sever leg muscle strain. In these early attempts “Starting Sitters” (I’ll call them, for lack of a better term) would hunker down then a classmate would sit on his/her lap. Another classmate would sit on that persons’ lap, and another on that persons, one-by-one-by one back up and sit.

By the time the 3rd person sat, the “Starting Sitters” legs were trembling. By the time the 4th or 5th person sat, the “Starter Sitter” would collapse and the “chair” would come tumbling down…Tumbling Tumbling

And in the midst of our “serious efforts” some boy would “just happen”  to sneak into line behind one of us so we ended up sitting—Cue the Squeal track—his lap!

Finally, someone devised a plan:  In all seriousness, we circled the track single file, spaced ourselves lap-distance apart (several test-sits were required to make sure each of us had the spacing correct, of course). Then, on the signal, with complete confidence and trust in the person behind us, we all sat down thus setting the 1976 world record for Lap Sitting!

Don't bother looking in the '76 edition. We're not in it. (I have a vague recollection that a day or so after we set the record, another group in Japan broke it. Still, for one brief shining moment, We were the champions, my friends! 

Confesstions of a World Record Holder Playlist:

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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.