Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Box of Books (Poem & More)

Forgive me, but I am going to set this poem up for you. Two years ago, I was waiting for my special delivery books to arrive for the Rochester Children's Book Festival held early in November every year. I couldn't wait to open the box and bring the self-published poems to the festival the next day. Lori Aman (painter/ cartoonist/artist/friend) had drawn wonderful sketches for each poem. At best, previous readers had compared PICTURE POETRY ON PARADE! to the work of Shel Silverstein. We hoped they thought the same for WAITING TO SEE THE PRINCIPAL AND OTHER POEMS.

I was going nuts waiting because there was a chance they wouldn't come, and I would have no new book. So to curb my insanity I took out a yellow legal pad and a pencil, and I started to write about my ordeal of waiting. I purposely made it long because I remember a very long poem in Marlo Thomas' FREE TO BE YOU AND ME about "Housework" that I thought was delightfully long and boring, just like housework. And I used the "and" numerous times in the following poem to drag it out in what I  hope is a pleasant way. Some writers might even say I used that monster word "a lot" of times.

My books did come, and I signed and sold 40 of them at the book festival the next day, but you probably already guessed that. Here's the poem...

A Box of Books

~ Joe Sottile

A box of books will arrive today.
The air is cold and crisp.
The skies are sunny and clear.
But it’s below 50 degrees.
I rake and rake because…

A box of books will arrive today
and I must keep busy-busy so that
I don’t spend every second dwelling
on the contents of that box
that the UPS truck will bring.

A box of books will arrive today
with a feeling of Christmas tucked inside
and gifts galore from floor to ceiling,
but this box contains the same present
again and again, 25 in all.

A box of books will arrive today
and I can’t wait to rip open the box
and run my fingers over each one.
I just hope the truck isn’t late
and day doesn’t turn into night.

A box of books will arrive today
if I am patient and steadfast.
And then I'll be ready for the book festival
at the local community college
with 48 illustrators and authors.

A box of books will arrive today,
and there will be more than 400 books to browse
at the College Center, including mine,
if only it arrives on time.
I am patiently waiting, patiently waiting.

A box of books will arrive today,
which will be my golden key
to the Rochester Children’s Book Festival
and all of the amazing hands-on events.
I want my picture with Clifford's Big Red Dog.

A box of books will arrive today.
It is getting kind of late.
The kid inside of me is worried.
The sun Is sinking into the horizon.
Where is that Big Brown Truck?

A box of books will arrive today,
but I am in the bathroom getting stomach medicine
instead of creating stacks of colorful leaves.
What is that I hear rumbling up the driveway?
To the window I run! To window I run!

A box of books has arrived today!
“Thank God! Thank God!"

I will get my books.
I will hug this man.
I will thank him for his speedy delivery.
Now I have a new book for my readers!
A new book! A new book! Hurrah!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where Is Your Haven?

Where is your escape from the real world? Your shelter? Your retreat? Your piece of heaven? Your personal haven?

I know where my wife’s haven is? It actually has two addresses. One is in Orlando Florida, and the other is Oak Island, North Carolina. She loves Disney World. Marilyn feels like a little kid there, full of wonder and excitement for all that’s there—from the colorful characters to the fireworks that light up the sky at night. That’s her idea of a vacation, or the real world at home where the laundry gathers and bills mount. She even likes to take me with her on excursions to Disney. Even though Tigger is rather hyperactive, I don’t mind taking a picture with Tigger and my happy wife.
If she can’t be at Disney World, then the next best place is Oak Island. The first time we stayed at Oak Island it was at a “cottage” that was right on the ocean. The land itself had to be worth over a million dollars. We felt “rich” staying there. We had lots of room, sunlight, and ocean. Our five grandkids visited us for part of our stay. We all had a grand time. We treasured our time together and took lots of photos, but I will spare you the family album. But the time certainly flew by at the sea.

Where’s my haven? My haven has a number of different addresses—performing poetry for kids at schools and libraries; golfing on my favorite golf course; biking on my road bike along the Erie Canal; eating my bluffin at Hess Express; sitting in my den near the gas stove; writing in my den while time flies; being part of a lively writing workshop or book festival; reclining on my recliner; watching a fascinating TV drama; digging into a slippery bucket of salty popcorn at Tinseltown, and watching events unfold on the big screen.
Where was Charles Dickens’ haven? (I thought you would never ask.) It was in Cowsville. I kid you not. He admitted that “Cows are my passion. What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a Swiss farm, and live entirely surrounded by cows and china.”

So where is your haven beyond daily chores and worries? Please tell my readers in the comment space. I sure would like to know. I'll leave you with a photo of our first beach house that we stayed at...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Kids on An Instant Vacation with Silly Sottile

The above photo was taken on the cafeteria floor at Florence Brasser Elementary School in Chili, New York. The kids are enjoying an instant vacation with "Silly Sottile." What's an instant vacation?

Milton Berle said that “Laugher is an instant vacation.” I think he’s right. And according to, we need to laugh at least 12 times a day to remain healthy. Here are a few laughs from one of their clever books, Laughter Is An Instant Vacation…

“Insanity doesn’t run In my family. It gallops.” –Cary Grant

As a parent, my wife and I have one thing in common. We’re both afraid of our children.”—Bill Cosy

“I am not going to vacuum until Sears has one that I can ride.”—Roseanne Barr

“Guests, like fish begin to smell after three days.”—Ben Franklin

“All mothers have intuition. The great ones have radar.”—Kathy Guisewite

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Write a Caption for Silly Sottile?!?

On Tuesday of this week I had the honor of recording three of my poems at the WXXI Radio Station. Poems and stories by various authors in the Rochester Area Children's Writers and Illustrators group (RACWI) are being used to promote the November 7th's book festival at MCC. It was fun and exciting to record poetry in front of a big microphone, eight stories up in downtown Rochester. The view behind me was amazing--highways, bridges, skyscrappers, and distant walkways.

So how did my little photo shoot turn out. Well, you can be the judge of the above one. Give it a caption in the comment section. It's okay to be funny, silly, serious, sarcastic, or whatever. I have one that I thought was a riot, but I don't want to influence you. Go ahead, take a shot at it! Thanks ahead of time!