7-Minute Stretch #5 Poetry Challenge: What's that Noise?

If your tots haven't read this book, they are missing out--and so are you! B  uy It!

If your tots haven't read this book, they are missing out--and so are you! Buy It!

A poll of incredibly interested 2,3 & 4 year-olds revealed noteworthy data: Their favorite part of my picture book, Not Norman, A Goldfish Story, was:

  • Not our spunky main character,
  • Not the brilliant story,
  • Not the delightful pictures,
  • Not . . .  Norman???

It was the dark page toward the end of the story when our tad-bit-scared boy says, "What's that noise?"

Prompted by certain sounds, our minds take us places--interesting, provocative, visceral...scary places. Which leads me to this week's prompt. Let's use sounds to mess around with readers minds--and make our poetry...well...Sing

Poetry Challenge #5

What's That Noise?

Take a walk—around your house, a store, the school, or your neighborhood.

Write a poem about it. But, rather than focusing on what you see, focus on what you hear.

Extra points for using an onomatopoeia—or a few. In case you forgot: that’s a words that sound like the sound of the object it’s describing.

You know the drill:

Set the timer for 7 minutes

 Start writing!

Don’t think about it too much; just do it.

Write a poem, paragraph, or story. If the prompt moves you, follow it. If it sparks something else, go with it! Our 7-Minute Poetry Challenge is not about writing great poetry; or writing what is expected; it’s not even about writing anything good. It’s about one thing, writing IT!

For Inspiration: Here's a poem chock full of sounds by Roger McGough

The Sound Collector

A stranger called this morning
Dressed all in black and grey
Put every sound into a bag
And carried them away

The whistling of the kettle
The turning of the lock
The purring of the kitten
The ticking of the clock

The popping of the toaster
The crunching of the flakes
When you spread the marmalade
The scraping noise it makes

The hissing of the frying pan
The ticking of the grill
The bubbling of the bathtub
As it starts to fill

The drumming of the raindrops
On the windowpane
When you do the washing-up
The gurgle of the drain

The crying of the baby
The squeaking of the chair
The swishing of the curtain
The creaking of the stair

A stranger called this morning
He didn’t leave his name
Left us only silence
Life will never be the same
— by Roger McGough

**Need/Want more inspirations? Here's a whole page of sound poems.

And, if you do join us in the 7-Minute Poetry Challenge be sure to let us know by posting the title, a note, or if you want, the whole dang poem, in the comments!

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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.

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Village Life

“It Takes a Village…” Bless Hillary for coming up with that title.

Fish Dance!

Fish Dance!

Like Harper Lee, I have files... While preparing for Not Norman's birthday celebration (break for Glugs and a happy fish dance!)

I happened upon this unpublished post. Portentous in that I'm making travel arrangements and filling in my 2015 calendar, to DO IT-the whole Why? How? Will I? When? Waaaaaaa!-AGAIN! 

July 24, 2014: I’m just back from a month long visit with my village. My children’s book writers & readers village. It’s a mobile village. A global village. Despite that, connecting isn’t always easy. Especially living as I do with my feet and heart in many places: TT, WHB, NYC, TUL, RNO, CA, JKT . . .  And while techno innovations have made staying in touch, connecting, even face-to-face almost-like-being-there conversations possible, virtual can’t compete with actual.

Alicia Johnson, a long time friend and champion arranged this visit to Conroe Central Library

Alicia Johnson, a long time friend and champion arranged this visit to Conroe Central Library

First came the Why? Kids!!! 2 days of Library presentations at Conroe Central Library, organized by my friend and children’s librarian Alicia Johnson, let me get up close and personal with a couple of hundred children of all ages—all meaning 3 months to 20 years! Stand outs: 0-6 year olds: After reading NOT NORMAN we sang the “My Pet Says” song, which had us all wagging our tails, barking, clucking and almost left one little guy in tears because he wanted us to sing about his horse that said “neigh, neigh, neigh (no worries, we made him happy by singing one last verse just for him!) 6-9 year olds: Nothing better than that finger shaking No Bite! VAMPIRE BABY Chorus and loads of hugs after; creating a mystery with the teen group—which we got so caught up in that we ran over and they had to practically, physically pull us out the library so they could lock up but not before we managed to convict the chameleon and restore Mouse’s pilfered diary; and last—maybe best—Ideaphoria with 9-12 year olds who don’t let you get away with anything!

Don't be fooled by our demur pose: Wylld imaginings are in progress.

Don't be fooled by our demur pose: Wylld imaginings are in progress.

 

Then came the How? 4 days of intense picture book lock-down in Idywylld with 3 writer buds, Marty Graham, Sarah Tomp and Andrea Zimmerman, aka "The Wylld Bunch," which despite our names only had time to have wild imaginings.

 

 

After came the Will I?  Back to VCFA for the Alumni Mini-Rez and retreat. As we have ever since they kicked us off campus a few years back (that’s another story) my classmates, The Unreliable Narrators, have rented a house where we all bunk up, plug in and recharge each July.

Summer of 2014 Unreliable Narrator retreaters (The rest of the pack missed out on the lips)   L-R: Kerry Castano, me, Katie Mather, Tam Smith, Cynthia Granberg, Cindy Faughnan, Trinity Peacock-Broyles

Summer of 2014 Unreliable Narrator retreaters (The rest of the pack missed out on the lips) L-R: Kerry Castano, me, Katie Mather, Tam Smith, Cynthia Granberg, Cindy Faughnan, Trinity Peacock-Broyles

This year our guest of honor was Katie’s son James. At 17 months, the toughest picture book judge ever…

James lounging with his UN posse

James lounging with his UN posse

 

 

When Jame's mom was napping, I used him a guinea pig (I started to type “lab rat” . . . Katie would have laughed, but I wasn’t sure anyone else would have.)

 

The bright blue cover caught his eye. Lost it fast when he saw the inside (so that’s why they call them picture books?)

Reading to a 17 month old shows why short is best—I was cutting words willy-nilly, and adding sounds—especially animal-ish noises…no wonder repetition is big.

Last came the When?

When will it end? That was definitely the question my family was asking when after the VCFA retreat, instead of returning home, I rode on to Cindy’s house for more. Talk about a dedicated writer. Cindy makes sure she gets those words down every day—and she made sure I did, too.

Best, each night of every phase: How-Will-When came “PUT UP OR SHIP OUT” Time when we read aloud the work we’d done. No way did I want to be voted out, so I worked.

Now comes the Whaaaaaaaaa. I’m back again, facing the blank page, the revision notes, the What! But I’m not alone. . .

Bob Dole thought he was slapping Hillary in the face with it when, during his Rebublican Nomination Acceptance Speech for the 96 elections, he spouted, “I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child."

What is a village if not an extended family? A community of individuals clustered together for similar if disparate reasons. Village. Family. Village.  .  . Potato. Pot-A-toe. Mash um up, add butter, salt, and a dash of pepper and it’s all the same—a blend that makes for good eatin’ and comfort which fosters creative living! 

Village Life Playlist: 

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Play it Again, Pal! or 2:48 Minutes More

Settle your little ones in front of the monitor, click on an Author Read-Aloud video (below), and let them watch and listen while you enjoy some lazy time. Okay, you can view, too--if you promise to act  OUR age!