Thursday, July 31, 2014

Spotlight on Lori Degman + DMC Challenge


LORI DEGMAN        Photo: Brian Degman

Lori Degman is a teacher of deaf/hard of hearing students by day and a writer of picture books by night, weekend and school holiday. But it was Lori's children's poetry that first captured my attention during this year's March Madness Poetry tournament.  Following the competition, I kept tabs on her blog, where she celebrated National Poetry Month by posting a new, original poem each day in April.  With a winning combination of expert rhyming skills and a silly sense of humor, it's no wonder she's a successful author of children's picture books.  

Lori's debut picture book, 1 ZANY ZOO, was the winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and a mini version was included inside 2.2 million boxes of Cheerios.  The hardcover was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010.  

COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS!
Creston Books, May 2014
ISBN: 978-1939547071
Click HERE to find it via Indie Bound







Her second picture book, COCK-A-DOODLE OOPS!, was published by Creston Books this past May.  Chock full of puns and clever wordplay, it tells a story that is quirky, unexpected, and a delight to read aloud. Coupled with Deborah Zemke's charming illustrations, this book is a must-have for any child's bookshelf. Here's the synopsis from Amazon.com:

When the rooster is away, who is there to ring in the day? Cock-a-Doodle Oops! is the humorous tale of a community of farm animals who band together to help out a rooster who is badly in need of a vacation. How hard can it be to wake up a sleeping farmer? While the rooster is gone, the pig, cow, sheep, and other farm animals attempt to rouse Farmer McPeeper with "cock-a-doodle SQUEAL," “cock-a-doodle MOO,” and "cock-a-doodle BAAAA," with hilarious results. The irresistible humor in this barnyard comedy builds vocabulary while encouraging children to cock-a-doodle-uh-oh along with the silly farm animals.

Today I invite you to get to know Lori a little better. Let's start with five favorites:
FAVORITE SMELL:
When I go into a grocery store and smell the produce section mixed with the smell of summer, I'm instantly brought back to when I was a child, grocery shopping with my mom.
FAVORITE FOOD:
My favorite foods are spicy ethnic foods!  I love Asian, Mexican and Indian - the hotter the better (within reason)!
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT:
I love traveling to cities and prefer to only be in my hotel room to sleep, bathe and dress, so I can spend my time exploring!  My twin sister and I started a birthday tradition of going for a long weekend to a city and we try to cover as much ground as possible. 
FAVORITE PASTIME:
My favorite pastime is anything that makes me laugh! 
FAVORITE QUOTE: 
I have a lot of favorite quotes, so it's hard to pick just one. The one that came to mind right now is:  
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
I always thought Dr. Seuss said this but, when I checked to make sure I wrote it correctly, here's what I found: "The quote said to be from Dr. Seuss is actually widely circulated misattribution. [It] actually came from FDR presidential advisor Bernard Baruch, about his dinner party seating arrangements."  You learn something new every day!


What inspired you to write for children and what do you enjoy most about being a children's author?

I was inspired to write for children when my two sons were young and I'd read to them all the time.  They loved funny picture books best and that made me want to write stories to make them (and other kids) laugh too!  The thing I enjoy most about being a children's author is going to schools, libraries and other events and reading my books to kids!  I love when they get the jokes I wrote!


What is your writing process like?
 

I teach full-time and don't have a lot of time to write during the school year, so I'm typically limited to editing – if I even have time for that!  I do most of my writing in the summer and I write in spurts. When I get in the flow, I can work on a story for hours straight – unfortunately, that doesn't happen often enough.  I have a file full of partially finished stories on my laptop so, when I'm stuck, I open a bunch at one time.  I'll work on one until I'm stuck and then move on to the next until I'm stuck again and so on . . . Have I mentioned I have ADD?


What was the biggest challenge you faced in writing Cock-a-Doodle Oops!?

Once I settled on the rhyme scheme and decided that each animal would take a turn crowing, the beginning and the animal's attempts came pretty easily and were so much fun to write.  I thought of the twist ending early on too, but I couldn't figure out how to get there.  I had the hardest time coming up with how they would finally wake Farmer McPeeper, since Rooster couldn't do it.  I wrote several versions that I thought were too typical and struggled with it for a while.  

Oh, but your clever solution was worth the wait!  (Sorry folks, my lips are sealed.)


Rooster's special skill is crowing.  What, other than writing, is one of your special skills? 

I'm a pretty decent singer – I'm not great, but I can carry a tune.  I almost put singing as my favorite pastime because I sing a lot!


Would you please share a favorite selection from your book?

Without being too immodest, I have to say I love all the puns in this story!  I'm a punaholic!!  My favorite stanza is the last one, but I don't want to give away the surprise twist, so I won't share it here.  My favorite animal's attempt to crow is the sheep:

Text © Lori Degman, Illustration © Deborah Zemke

"I know that I'm quiet, but I'd like to try it.
Here goes," said a shy little sheep.
Her "Cock-a-doodle baaaa" didn't travel too faaa.
In fact, she made barely a peep!

I love that shy little sheep!  And also this self-confident cow:

Text © Lori Degman, Illustration © Deborah Zemke

"I'll teach you all how. I'm a talented cow.
Step back and learn from the master!
A-one and a-two and a- Cock-a-doodle-MOOOOOO!"
Boy, what an udder disaster!


If you had all the world's children in one room, what would you tell them?

I think I'd share the quote I chose above and tell them to be true to themselves and to not compromise themselves just to make people like them. Be yourself and you'll attract others who appreciate you and those people will be your true friends!


Finally, please tell us what you have chosen as this month's ditty challenge.

Soon after Cock-a-Doodle Oops! came out, I did a book launch with Deborah Zemke, the book's illustrator.  After reading the book, we asked the children to suggest other animals that could crow for Rooster.  Then, Deborah drew a picture of the animal and I came up with a rhyme to go with it.  So, my ditty challenge is to write a stanza following the style used in the book (see sheep and cow stanzas above), using an animal not mentioned in the book– no pigs, sheep, cows, chickens, mules, goats, or owls.  I'm looking forward to reading them!!

Cock-a-doodle WAHOO! 
While Rooster's away, the poets will play...

Your mission: wake Farmer McPeeper.

FARMER McPEEPER, illustration by Deborah Zemke

So who's ready for some animal antics? 
                                               ...barnyard buffoonery? 
                                                                        ...farmyard fun? 

Send your cockamamie cock-a-doodle stanzas to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. For children under 13 who would like to participate, please read my COPPA compliance statement located below the contact form. Some contributions may be published on the blog as daily ditties, but all of them will be collected in one wrap-up post on Friday, August 29th.

Thank you for visiting Today's Little Ditty this month, Lori, and also for graciously offering a personalized copy of Cock-a-Doodle Oops! to one lucky participant.  A random drawing will take place at the end of the month.
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Before I announce the winner of July's Ditty of the Month Club giveaway, there were a handful of wonderful last minute entries, so do your funny bone a favor and check them out.  Thanks, again, to everyone who participated!  The variety was incredible, and the content... well, suffice it to say, you knocked my socks off.
 

Random.org has determined that the winner of a personalized copy of THIS OLD BAND, by Tamera Will Wissinger and illustrated by Matt Loveridge, is:

TABATHA YEATTS – congratulations Tabatha!

Please join Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for some introspective thoughts and today's Poetry Friday roundup.




Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DMC: "The Ballad of Odyssey" by Keri Collins Lewis




Sung to the tune of "Oh My Darling, Clementine"


The Ballad of Odyssey

In a cavern, in a canyon
at the bottom of the sea
lived an ancient, giant squid
and his daughter, Odyssey.
 

Through the darkness
this pair hunted
for the fish that brought them glee,
but the old squid found a new love
and abandoned Odyssey.
 

Then a sperm whale
snuck up on her
as she swam alone and free,
all those tentacles could not save her
and he ate dear Odyssey.
 

Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling, Odyssey,
You are just part of the food chain,
that’s the way it’s meant to be.

© 2014 Keri Collins Lewis.  All rights reserved.

For a video of a giant squid, click HERE; for more info, click HERE


Tamera Will Wissinger has challenged us to come up with a parody or tribute poem this month.  (Click HERE for details.) There are only two more days to join in the fun! Send your poem no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 31st to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right.


All participants will be entered to win a copy of Tamera's 
delightful new picture book, THIS OLD BAND.




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DMC: "The Passionate Stallion to his Mare" by B. J. Lee





A tribute to “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe

The Passionate Stallion to his Mare
 

Come live with me and be my mare
and we will every pleasure share.
I’ll save my treats and give you all
the apples when they start to fall.

 

And we will graze in glorious grass,
and I’ll not let a moment pass
when I am not as close to you
as I can be through chomp and chew.

 

We’ll share the stable past Duck’s pond,
and there we’ll strengthen our deep bond.
I’ll give you first dibs on the hay
and I will never say thee neigh.

 

So if this life seems good to you,
then bid your former life adieu.
And if you smell love in the air,
come live with me and be my mare.


© 2012 B. J. Lee.  All rights reserved. 


Tamera Will Wissinger has challenged us to come up with a parody or tribute poem this month.  (Click HERE for details.) There are only three more days to join in the fun! Send your poem no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 31st to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. 


All participants will be entered to win a copy of Tamera's 
delightful new picture book, THIS OLD BAND.




Monday, July 28, 2014

DMC: Haiku Parody by Diane Mayr



In the style of Basho...



the old Pond's
a finger dips in,
smear of mascara

 © 2014 Diane Mayr.  All rights reserved.



Tamera Will Wissinger has challenged us to come up with a parody or tribute poem this month.  (Click HERE for details.) There are only four more days to join in the fun! Send your poem no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT on July 31st to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. 


All participants will be entered to win a copy of Tamera's 
delightful new picture book, THIS OLD BAND.




Thursday, July 24, 2014

July DMC Wrap-Up + Giveaway



Tamera Will Wissinger, our spotlight author for July, chose the parody or tribute poem as this month's ditty challenge.  What a fun challenge it's been!  Thank you to everyone who kept me smiling and laughing all month long.

Once I tuned in, I was surprised at just how common parody poems are.  When Margaret Simon gave me this link to her former student's parody of "Let It Go," I thought about how many other versions of that song were floating around social media a while back.

There was the time I found my children surfing YouTube earlier this month, looking for Minecraft parodies of popular songs.  Or what about this hilarious "Weird Al" parody, "Word Crimes", that's circulating right now?


Seriously, they're everywhere!

On Carrie Finison's blog, Story Patch, I recently won a copy of THERE WAS A WEE LASSIE WHO SWALLOWED A MIDGIE, by Rebecca Colby.  Wouldn't you know, another delightful parody picture book!

Not long after, I spied this hilarious parody based on Helen Reddy's "I Am Woman," also by Rebecca Colby.  (Make sure to click on the sound recording as well.)



And then, of course, there were all of these: 

Santa had a heaping pack
     – by Kristi Veitenheimer

Sung to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb"

Santa had a heaping pack,
heaping pack, heaping pack,
Santa had a heaping pack  
which was filled up with toys. 

He needed to find boys and girls, 
boys and girls, boys and girls. 
He needed to find boys and girls 
who had been good all year. 

Santa looked at this year’s list,
this year’s list, this year’s list. 
Santa looked at this year’s list 
and plotted a fast route. 

He loaded the pack on his sled,
on his sled, on his sled. 
He loaded the pack on his sled
and called his best reindeer. 

Red-nosed Rudolph led the way,
led the way, led the way. 
Red-nosed Rudolph led the way
to each and every home. 

Christmas morn they all woke up,
all woke up, all woke up. 
Christmas morn they all woke up
to see what Santa brought. 

All the children laughed and played,
laughed and played, laughed and played. 
All the children laughed and played 
with Santa's Christmas loot. 

Back home Santa took a nap, 
took a nap, took a nap. 
Back home Santa took a nap
that lasted through the day.
                   

                                  A Grand Old Frog
                                       – by Gayle C. Krouse

                                   Based on "You're a Grand Old Flag" by George M. Cohan

                                   He’s a grand old frog,
 
                                   who can leap through the bog,
 
                                   and forever in spring may he croak. 
                                   An Olympian; 
                                   Amphibian;

                                   the best of the high-jumping folk.

                                   Ev'ry polliwog wants to be this grand frog. 
                                   He’s a champion, who soars through the sky,

                                   But they don’t know that his secret is … 
                                   He’s just catching a grand old fly.


The Five-Lined Skink
     – by James "Jim" A. Duke

Parody on Burl Ives "Blue Tail Fly" ("Jimmy Crack Corn")

I'll betcha that you'd never think
Today you'd meet the blue-tail skink
but I am tellin, I'll betcha Helen
will wink and blink and find your skink. 

CHORUS: 
          Ha, ha, ha; here we be
          The blue tail skink and you and me
          I’m singing corn, but I don’t care
          The skink done gone away

The skink is an insectivore
Eating bugs and little more 
She helps keep down our flies and fleas 
Helps control a lot of these

Blue tail skink hidin' in the rock
She don't need no lollypop 
Eating bugs and fleas and flies 
Quicker'n you can bat your eyes

Do you think a skink can think? 
Then think about that tail of blue! 
Should our snake grab that tail of blue 
The skink sheds it: "I fooled you"

Don't think they stink, the blue-tail skink 
Can catch a fly in just a wink 
More than most folk really think 
We'd better thank the blue tail skink


                              Take Me Out of Your Backpack
                                  – by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

                              Sung to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" 
                              by Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer.

                              Take me out of your backpack.
                              Reach inside the black hole,
                              Past the detritus and paper mess–
                              What's inside could be anyone's guess,
                              But please root, root, root till you find me.
                              Sniff me out with your nose.
                              For with 1-, 2-, 3-day old chicken
                              That's how it goes!



The Barefoot Girl
     – by Linda Baie

A tribute to "The Barefoot Boy" by John Greenleaf Whittier

Blessings on thee, little girl,  
flip-flopped feet, with hair of curl! 
With thy tee of rainbow hues, 
And thy ripped up jeans so blue; 
Your red lips show make-up done 
I see tan shoulders, kissed by sun. 
You laugh with friends all feeling tall, 
Holding bliss—you’re at the mall! 
I remember those days well: 
Carefree giggling rings a bell! 
Princess crowned—the grown-up girl 
Layering the future in a swirl. 
Allow this moment, never hide; 
Flip flops, tees, and friends abide. 
Thou hast more than eyes can see 
Keep it close, err loss will be. 
Outward sunshine, inside, seed pearl.
Blessings on thee, little girl! 

Two UFDs (Unidentified Flying Ditties) appeared out of nowhere from Carrie Clickard:  
                              UFD #1:
                              Based on the traditional lullaby, "Hush, Little Baby"
 

 
                              Hush, little Martian, don't flap a wing,
                              Mama's gonna give you a radar ring.
                              And if that ring won't work in fog,
                              Papa's gonna buy you an android dog.
                              And if that android dog won't bark,
                              Mama's got a pass for the Milky Way park.
                              And if the Milky Way runs dry,
                              Papa's gonna build you a saucer to fly.
                              And if that saucer hits the sun,
                              Mama's gonna buy you a laser gun.
                              And if that laser never shoots,
                              Papa's gonna buy you some rocket boots.
                              And if those boots won't reach a star,
                              We'll stop by Earth and buy a car.

                                               Carrie Clickard, all rights reserved

                              UFD #2:
                               Sung to the tune of "This Old Man"

                               Down from Mars, spaceships fly -
                               saucers spinning in the sky
                               with a click clack power pack,
                               rocketa-pocketa, zoom!
                               We buzz Earth with a sonic boom.

                               On a farm, our ship drops
                               making circles in their crops
                               with a click clack power pack,
                               wurble-burble whirr (shhhhhh!)
                               We sneak past in a spinning blur!

                               Time to go, we blast off
                               watching Earthlings blink and cough
                               with a click clack power pack,
                               rocketa-pocketa, zoom!
                               Back to Mars with a sonic boom.


                                               – Carrie Clickard, all rights reserved


‘Twas the Day Before Pesach
     – by Jan Gars
The version HERE includes a glossary of Yiddish terms.

Based on "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the day before Pesach, and all through the shul,
Not a rabbi was stirring, they were at Hebrew school;
In the basement below that my zayde had leased
My bubbe and tante set a Passover feast.

The yids were all coming! There’s aunt Jo and aunt Sophie,
Then Zelda schlept in with her mensch, such a trophy.
Cousin Ann couldn’t make it because of a job,
When she started to dress, her nose started to throb.

My sister is making the matzo ball soup,
About fifteen quarts to feed this large group.
Then to the bank, I fly in a flash,
To finance this simcha, we needed more cash!

The herbs and the bitters were put by the sink;
The gefilte fish Jo brought had started to stink.
Shari was gagging until she would wretch
Then she started complaining, oy vey what a kvetch.

Aunt Margie said Milty the family sinner,
Had chutzba by bringing a shiksa to dinner.
Uncle Brucey is dancing and doing his schtick,
While cussing in Yiddish and twirling his stick.

The sun’s going down and it’s time for the Seder,
But Murry’s not here, is he coming later?
Then there’s a clatter outside of the door,
And out of a Caddy steps Murray and four.

Now Shlomo, now Moisha, now Sara, now Irv,
Der tate oysn oyg, stepping off of the curve;
Shlomo has macaroons, Mo’s in magenta
Sara “the kibitz”, she’s such a yenta.

Then there is Murry, a jolly soul he,
Twinkling eyes and plump as can be;
He had a round face and a belly that shook,
Mogen David in one hand and the other a Nook.

He sat at the table and started to read,
The Nook was in Hebrew, “now follow my lead”.
A modernized Jew, I think it’s an omen,
But where has he hidden this year’s Afikomen?

“The meshugganah pharaoh would not let us leave,
Then God told old Moses he had to believe;
So ten plagues were given the ancient Egyptians”.
Mazel tov Moses for your Bible inscriptions!

We pray and we eat the unleavened breads,
With kosher tradition embossed in our heads.
Then he made a toast, as he took his last bite
L’chaim to all, and to all a good night!


And a few more, somewhat "littler" ditties from Jan Gars, based on traditional nursery rhymes: 

Jack's Cat

Jack's cat was very fat
His dog was very lean
So when Sylvester sat on him
Old Ruff could not be seen

                                Bye Bye Black Sheets

                                Bye bye black sheets
                                They are made of wool
                                A little bit too itchy
                                So at my skin I pull
                                Into the laundry
                                Into the trash
                                It doesn't make a difference
                                They're not worth the cash

                                                               Little Miss Muffit

                                                               Little Miss Muffit
                                                               Sat on a tuffit
                                                               Reading the news on the way
                                                               She invested in SPDRs
                                                               And tips from insiders
                                                               And is still very rich to this day

                                                                                             Little Jack Horner

                                                                                             Little Jack Horner
                                                                                             Sat in the corner
                                                                                             Drinking a quart of rye
                                                                                             He got very numb
                                                                                             When he added some rum
                                                                                             Then stuck his face into a pie

                                                                                            – Jan Gars, all rights reserved

Their-there-they're
     – by Tabatha Yeatts

Sung to the tune of Do-Re-Mi

Let's start at the very beginning
A very good place to start
When you read you begin with A-B-C
When you write you begin with their-there-they're (their-there-they're)

Their-there-they're
The first three words happen to be their-there-they're
Their-there-they're

Their-There-They're-Its-It's-Your-You're-
(Oh, let's see if I can make it easier)

Their- belongs, belongs to them
There- a place where you can go
They're- is only when they are
Its- is something it can show
It's- is solely when it is
Your- is something just for you
You're- you are the way it is 
Sometimes only their will do (oo-oo-oo)

(Repeat)

When you know the words to write
Then you can write to delight

From Diane Mayr with "apologies to Basho," though I'm pretty sure he had brilliant sense of humor and would have appreciated the tribute:
                  the old Pond's
                  a finger dips in,
                  smear of mascara

                                      – Diane Mayr, all rights reserved
 

The Passionate Stallion to his Mare
     – by B.J. Lee

A parody of Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”

Come live with me and be my mare
and we will every pleasure share.
I’ll save my treats and give you all
the apples when they start to fall.

And we will graze in glorious grass,
and I’ll not let a moment pass
when I am not as close to you
as I can be through chomp and chew.

We’ll share the stable past Duck’s pond,
and there we’ll strengthen our deep bond.
I’ll give you first dibs on the hay
and I will never say thee neigh.

So if this life seems good to you,
then bid your former life adieu.
And if you smell love in the air,
come live with me and be my mare.


                             The Ballad of Odyssey 
                                   – by Keri Collins Lewis

                              Sung to the tune of "Oh My Darling, Clementine"

                              In a cavern, in a canyon
                              at the bottom of the sea
                              lived a ancient, giant squid
                              and his daughter, Odyssey.

                              Through the darkness
                              this pair hunted
                              for the fish that brought them glee,
                              but the old squid found a new love
                              and abandoned Odyssey.

                              Then a sperm whale
                              snuck up on her
                              as she swam alone and free,
                              all those tentacles could not save her
                              and he ate dear Odyssey.

                              Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling, Odyssey,
                              You are just part of the food chain,
                              that’s the way it’s meant to be.

                              From Keri:  For a video of a giant squid, click HERE 
                                                     For more info, click HERE


Deck the Hulls
     – by Donna JT Smith 

Based on the traditional Christmas carol, "Deck the Halls"

Deck the hulls with lights so jolly!
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!
Even trim the traps, by golly!
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!
Don we now our boots and oilskins,
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!
While we sing of lobster boilin’s,
     Fa la la la la, la lobster la!

See the rolling waves before us,
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!
They delight a New York tour bus,
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!
Bobbers, buoys and other treasures
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!
They’ll remind of seaside pleasures
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!

Fast to sea the low tide rushes,
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!
Now the high tide inward gushes
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!
Stack the traps and buoys together
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!
We’ll withstand the lowry weather!
     Fa la la la, la la lobster la!


                                                                      Today's Piggies
                                                                           – by Buffy Silverman

                                                                      Based on the traditional nursery rhyme


                                                                      This little piggy had an ipad

                                                                      This little piggy skyped home,

                                                                      This little piggy watched youtube,

                                                                      This little piggy ran Chrome,

                                                                      This little piggy went...

                                                                      Tweet, tweet, tweet,
                                                                      all the way home!


It's a Parodypalooza and July isn't even over yet!

You have until 5:00 pm EDT on Thursday, July 31st, 
to send me your tribute or parody poem.

HEY! WHO'S UP FOR A GIVEAWAY?

Everyone who participates in this month's challenge will automatically be entered to win a personalized copy of Tamera's new picture book, THIS OLD BAND. (One entry per participant, not per poem.) Alternatively, you may earn an entry into the giveaway by commenting below.  If you contribute a poem and comment below you will earn two entries in total.  Comments must also be received no later than 5:00 EDT on Thursday July 31st, 2014.

The winner will be determined by Random.org and announced next Friday, August 1st, when we feature our new Spotlight ON interview and ditty challenge.  


Keep those ditties coming!


Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong are hosting a Poetry Friday party over at Poetry for Children.  Stop by for some festive news and an abundance of poetry offerings.