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

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.

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 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.

MAX said "YES!" to Children's Choices

What inspires: Children choosing to read and what!Maybe because his namesake starred in the story, my son Max chose WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE for bedtime reading so many times we can all recite it by heart... Maurice Sendak, the author/illustrator/creator responsible for that story and for bringing to light the truth of good story--that good doesn't mean "goody-good"-but rather means honest, true, sometimes messy and naughty and irreverent, died today, at age 83, after suffering a stroke.

A 'Wild Rumpus' with Maurice Sendak

Fitting that the Children's Choice Awards honorees were anything but "goody-goods."  SE Hinton, author of THE OUTSIDERS, was there. So was Jake Gantos-- convicted felon whose not ashamed to write or talk about it--who said he literally picked a "life-changing" copy of THE OUTSIDERS up off the street.. Man of the evening was another dark horse:  DIARY OF A WHIMPY KID'S creator Jeff Kinney, he made a point of saying how 4 years ago he was unknown and unpublished--definitely not "Whimpy" now! (Surely Sendak was there in spirit, cheering with the lot of them.)

"This year’s Impact Award went to Justin Tuck, defensive end for the New York Giants, for his contributions to children's literacy. Tuck and his wife founded an organization called R.U.S.H. for Literacy, which encourages children to Read, Understand, Succeed and Hope. Tuck recalled how hard his parents worked to put food on the table for the family, and how as a child he never got to travel anywhere. “My mom always told me, ‘You want to go somewhere, pick up a book.’ ”--excerpted from Publisher's Weekly


World Read Aloud Day

Today, March 7th is World Read Aloud Day!

World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.

Lit World is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the written word! (According to LitWorld's website, there are 793 million illiterate people in the world. ) Find out more about LitWorld, register to be part of the worldwide read aloud, donate, get involved--and most importantly READ and spread the written word!

What better way to celebrate World Read Aloud Day than by Buddy Reading...and, it just so happens some wonderful reader posted  a read-aloud of NOT NORMAN, A GOLDFISH STORY on U-Tube. So, get cozy, grab a buddy and READ!

NOT NORMAN, A GOLDFISH STORY, Buddy Read-Aloud: If the hyperlink doesn't click, cut and paste this link:

And here's a little ditty to celebrate the day (Get ready to channel Karen Carpenter's version of Sing!):

Read/Read a Book/Read out loud/Read out looooong/

Don't worry that you're not good enough for anyone else to hear/

Just read/Read a Book!

The Day the Rainbow Died

Make a wish/Have a ball/Dream a dream/Be it all…/If you want it, you can get it/But to get it, you’ve got to want it/Anything you want to try…../Just let go and you'll fly highhhhhhhh.../And Make a Wish!*

I’m making a wish. I am wishing, dreaming, hoping someone, or a lot of someones, realize how gray our world will be without rainbows—especially this rainbow, the Reading Rainbow

On August 28th Reading Rainbow died. After 26 years of celebrating books Reading Rainbow is off the air.

Why in the world is Reading Rainbow—a program celebrating books and reading and ideas--going off the air?

“Because no one — not the station, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting — will put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show's broadcast rights,” explained, John Grant, who is in charge of content at Reading Rainbow's home station.

What’s a few hundred thousand dollars in the grand scheme of things? Consider how much more than that we, the United States of America, spend on other things—war, for instance--wars against things like drugs, poverty, pollution, people...oh yeah, and illiteracy.

Grant noted that while the decision to end Reading Rainbow had to do with funding cuts to PBS, it “can also be traced back to a philosophical change about TV and reading. He says the change started with the Department of Education under the Bush administration, which wanted to see a much heavier focus on things like phonics and spelling, the basic tools of reading”….And PBS and CPB and the Department of Education want to put funding toward programming that would teach kids how to read. They think “teaching the mechanics of reading should be the network's priority.”

Silly me, I thought that was what teachers and parents were supposed to do…maybe that’s why funding for education is not of highest propriety…why pay teachers? Heck, let’s let TV teach our children “the mechanics of reading.”

Reading Rainbow is not and has never been about teaching children to read. Reading Rainbow does something more…something huge: “Reading Rainbow" Grant notes, “taught kids why to read, you know, the love of reading, encouraged kids to pick up a book and to read.”

We don’t seem to mind spending heaps of money to bully people into doing the “right thing.” So why not peel off some good old American greenbacks to do a really right thing: Bring back Reading Rainbow.

Better yet, skip PBS. PBS will go on to create other, wonderful programs—that’s what PBS does, provide “quality” programming for television viewers, programs like Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the only programs with longer runs on PBS than Reading Rainbow.

Let’s turn instead to those “for profit” TV program producers, the one who bring us “quality” TV shows packed with plenty worth learning to love: violence, rage, anger, slaughter, decapitation, blood, cussing, crime, crime, crime…

ABC, NBC, FX, CBS, Fox, HBO…why don’t YOU bring back Reading Rainbow?

Come on, use a couple of hundred thousand of those dollars you charge sponsors to air commercials for products they want us to buy—and buy us a program we want to watch—and want our children to watch. One that celebrates reading and imagination.

Butterfly in the sky/ I can go twice as high/Take a look/ it's in a book/ -- Reading Rainbow...

For the full NPR story go to:

*Theme from “Make a Wish” with Tom Chapin, the 70's morning show that fostered my grand ideas.)