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!
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.
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:
- Thank You For Being A Friend by Andrew Gold (Golden Girls Version, of course . . . Gold, Golden, Goldfish…get it?
*BTW: Noah and I do not earn royalties for this; Proceeds fund Jumpstart's efforts.