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 . . . )

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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.

Two Fish in the Same Pond…Finally!

….Fish lovers that is. Specifically Norman the Fish lovers me and Noah Z. Jones the Amazing, who illustrated Not Norman, A Goldfish Story. We met up for the 1st time at St. George’s Pre-school in La Canada, California on Wednesday. How? In some wonderful cosmic collision Rebecca Grose, of SoCal Public Relations,

just happened to reach out to Flintridge Books in La Canada when she was scheduling events to celebrate my new picture book, Your Mommy Was Just Like You, and, fellow Vermont College grad Catherine Linka

just happens to be the Children’s Book Buyer for Flintridge Books (which is now is a brand spankin’ new, bigger and better location right on the corner of Foothill and Angeles Crest)

, and Noah’s son Eli just happens to be attend pre-school at St. Georges—what are the chances of that!

Noah, who is quite famous and successful nowadays as creator of the Disney animated series, Fish Hooks took time that morning to pop over to St. George’s for a visit. What a surprise! What a treat! Noah is just as silly and fun and clever in real live as I imagined him to be when he brought to life our funny flippin’ and floppin’ fish character Norman!

Noah and I had never met. Never even talked on the phone before. Never even e-mailed until after Not Norman was released in 2005. (Which is pretty normal in the picture book creating process.) Still, it is kind of weird if you think about it….wouldn’t it make sense for the illustrator and author to chat? Or meet? But that’s not how it’s usually done. The idea is that the author might muck up the illustrator’s creative process by imposing his or her vision over the artist’s. I must admit, judging by the wonderful, surprising art in picture books—especially mine!—the system works!

Our editor, Sarah,  kept telling me how much fun Noah was and how nice Noah was and and and…and finally I got to see for myself! Noah brought his easel, giant paper and markers along when he came to surprise me. And so together we entertained the preschoolers with the story of how Not Norman came to life. For a few hours on Wednesday it was the Noah and Kelly Show: while I talked and read, Noah drew silly, funny sketches. The kid’s heads were bobbing back and forth faster than fans at Wimbledon!

Noah and I had a blast! We’re hoping this is the beginning of more fishy fun! (Hint, hint, Sarah...)