Andy, my friend-who-is-fluent-in-French, tells me that my book Le Passeur (The Giver) has been nominated for a big award in France (amazing, since it has been published there for 14 years) and I am invited to go in June to an Oscar-like event where they will say (in French) "..and the winner is..."  Maybe there will even be a tapis rouge  (red carpet) and a Joan Rivers?

All of that is lovely but it will have to take place without me because I am counting on heading to Maine in June and relaxing, free of the many distractions (most of my own making, alas) I have here, and getting some writing done.

Here is the new Gooney Bird book: GOONEY BIRD IS SO ABSURD

GB Absurd cover
and you must stand on your head to appreciate it, since she is upside down.  And speaking of heads, what does GB have on hers?

Here is an excerpt:

"Gooney Bird," (asked Mrs. Pidgoen), "are those underpants on your head?"

Goney Bird thought for a moment. Then she said, in a patient voice, "Once it was underpants. Now it's a two-pony-tail hat. It's like a poem. It can be whatever you want it to be.

 "Actually," she went on, and reached for the ruffled fabric, "I'm going to take it off now. The elastic hurts my forehead."

Many teachers across the USA have held Gooneyt Bird days, when the kids can dress as GB does, in outrageous clothing. Often they send me photos.  I don't know how they will feel about this one, in which Goney Bird---and later, the other children in her second grade class---all wear underpants on their heads.

The important thing is what GB says in that passage: "It's like a poem. It can be whatever you want it to be."  Poetry is what Mrs. Pidgeon's class is studying in this fourth Gooney Bird book.

The inside of the book flap says: "Mrs. Pidgeon's students soon find that writing good poetry takes a lot of hard work and creative thinking.  Gooney Bird and her classmates are up to the challenge. But just when things are going well, the kids get some terrible news. And Gooney Bird will need all the inspiration her brain can muster to organize the most important poem the class has ever written."

I should have dedicated the book to Lee Bennett Hopkins, poet/anthologist, who was kind enough to read parts of it in progress, so that I could be certain I wasn't leading kids astray in the study of poetry.  But I will just thank Lee here.  The dedication in the book is to Emilia Jansson, a special little girl who adores Gooney Bird. Emilia lives in Finland, encountered Gooney Bird in her school there, and became hooked. Children in Finland grow up learning English in school, which is helpful to the rest of the world because NOBODY would be able to learn Finnish, a language with entirely too many K's, in my opinion.

The only thing harder to learn is Icelandic, where an F is pronounced like B if it precedes an L.  Got that?