Poetry by the Iguana, and Other Stories

Many people have unexpected gifts, and the Iguana surprised everyone by telling his view of the galaxy in poetry. Everyone but me, that is. I've always known he speaks in lyrics!

Hi! Zantippy Skiphop here! I tell the tales of my adventures in the galaxy with my friends! Iguana likes to stay in his Earth swamp, so his book got written while I was trapped in an extraterrestrial jail. Don't worry, I escaped, so we are all about to tell you lots more stories!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Free Bedtime Tales for Your Reptile: Last Free Day Today! Poetry by the Iguana (esquire and lover of seaweed)

Download Poetry by the Iguana for free!

This month, the free days are:

Sunday, May 20 - Thursday, May 24, 2012

Free anywhere on Earth, on the International Space Station, and the entire Solar System as far as Neptune. Sorry Pluto   :( You always seem to get a rock :( *hug*

参 Nice to read along with the music from Peter and the Wolf. 柒

Times for the free download run from midnight (12am) May 20 through 11:59pm May 24, PDT.

Time Travel Reminder:

For Aussies, Kiwis, and other people living in the future, these times are according to Amazon's standard of Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) in the United States. This is GMT minus 8 hours.


Download either onto Kindle, or from the Amazon book site page

For the Amazon page in other countries, search for "Poetry by the Iguana", or use the book's ASIN for the search: B007Z1TG3Y

Remember - if you need to download the free reading app, to read ebooks on your computer or mobile device, you can find that at Amazon's Free Reading Apps


I'm so excited for more Beings to share in Iguana's poetry! Let me know which part of the Solar System you're from!

Thanks! Can't wait to see you!


 Zantippy (and Iguana, but he is asleep right now, he doesn't even know about this yet).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Are There Poets in District 13?

Warning: This discusses The Hunger Games trilogy. If you haven't read the entire trilogy yet, wait to read this.

I just finished Mockingjay this past weekend. I keep waiting to fully recover, but keep having dreams of naked, helpless little beings who are my friends or family in critter disguise and need protection.

At some point, maybe when Peeta attacked Katniss after being rescued, I started hoping it would not have too happy of an ending. Not because I don't like happy endings - they're my favorite! But because I just couldn't see how the Panem universe could be so hideous, ramping up to what you knew had to be even worse hideousness, then resolve itself into people living in peace with the love of their lives. Thankfully, thanks to Suzanne Collins and her conscience as a writer, the story stayed true to itself. It ended about as happily as it could, I guess, with people pursuing peaceful and free lives, but not necessarily permanently so.

This ending of charred hope was extremely unsettling to me. And that feels a bit shameful, because there are probably many people on this planet who have read THG and, unlike me, have survived war, or live in a constant state of political instability. Do they look for blissful endings, or realistic ones? I didn't grow up in a war zone. I like pretending there is this happy-ending bubble, but only if the universe of the story being told is in that bubble all along. So I loved the ending of Mockingjay. There was no bringing some people back. Others knew they had to move to a new area, hopefully to make fewer hate-filled decisions in their lives. Katniss made the choice to keep living, because that impetus that makes us risk our lives for other people is some kind of instinct that says life is meant to be lived. She wanted to live for the ones who died for her. And our favorite pair finally had the peace to be together, and to take the ultimate action of optimism for their future: to bring new children into the world. I keep reminding myself that there was that very clear hope for life, in the end.

The thing that bothers me the most, though, that keeps nagging at me and will after the post-Mockingjay nightmares stop, is the culture of District 13. People were raised from birth to be soldiers. Their lives were completely regimented, even "Reflection" time, which was only 30 minutes. Everything - the clothes, walls, food, and especially Coin, were gray. The only real color was in the red doors of the torture rooms.

You know poets were born there - people who see color everywhere, are distressed when it is purposefully left out of a space, ones who hear music in their minds and share it with others, and fit the lives they know into fantastical stories - what place did they have in District 13? You know they couldn't have all adapted. You can't take a poetic soul, and force that soul into a gray uniform, even in a relatively non-violent place like the kitchen, and expect a sane individual to result. Did they have some kind of asylum for the sensitive people?

If you are reading this, you probably have felt at some point that it's hard to live in cultures based on money, and not simply immersed in art, music, stories. We've had to learn to navigate it. And yet, our various cultures are filled with beauty and chances to compose music, tell stories, push color around. And there are beautiful souls who aren't artists themselves, but are simply happy and loving, like Peeta's friend, Delly, expecting the best from life. It distresses me very deeply to think of people like us being born into District 13 and realizing one day that there was no place for them. Just slopping gray turnip allotments onto someone's breakfast plate.

One happy thought that comes to me, though, is that Delly must have left District 13 after the war. That was not a place for her. She was sunshine, and needed sunshine back in some way from her culture and neighbors - even at least the chance to live above ground. I'm hoping she moved away from District 13 and into more vibrancy. I hope this, because even though Peeta and Katniss were healing, and choosing a hopeful future, they were very damaged people. I've seen friends of mine whose parents were Holocaust survivors. These friends had an emotional struggle approaching life that I just don't see in all the rest of us lucky to have been raised by parents who weren't threatened with extinction as children. I want Peeta and Katniss' children to have someone that understands grief, but grabs the sunshine. I hope Delly moved back to District 12.

Picture "Alone Lonely Drawing Sad Picture" from Layoutsparks.com

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Children's Book Week 2012

Look at the buildings as books, with bookmarks! I wonder who the snail is. And is that the Little Red Hen in the front? David Wiesner has mostly older classics in this poster he designed, but is that dragon Saphira? What a great parade!

My favourites are the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2, just because I am immensely loyal to Dr. Seuss. When I was studying Child Development, my Children's Literature teacher hated Dr. Seuss. She was offended by his playful combining of syllables, claiming it would confuse children who were learning to spell, or even first learning to speak. Maybe her love of rules and structure can be explained by the fact that she was a nun, but I've known other nuns who loved altering the normal rules for an imaginary universe. Maybe my teacher saw Dr. Seuss' stories as simple, silly rhymes, maybe even forced rhymes. I've definitely seen people wanting to make a poem out of something, and the first place they head for is a rhyme in the same meter and couplets as in Green Eggs and Ham. But that isn't what Dr. Seuss was doing. He created really fun nonsense which could only be told in nonsense, the rhymes and meter just followed. Yes, it's silly! The best kind of silly.

Even though I love tons of children's books, some written in a very complicated way for "older" readers, this week is all about Dr. Seuss to me.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mythologist Joseph Campbell

I love Joseph Campbell! He brought mythology to people's understanding, and gave the generations after him a widespread appreciation for his beloved inner spaces of myth. It is kind of...ironic...because he used to say that as soon as you start to analyze mythology, you've lost the meaning of it. The elements in myth are something our souls feel and understand just by knowing, wherever they appear in various stories. Look at some of the most well-known science fiction and fantasy: Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings. They appeal to so many people probably because our brains respond to mythic archetypes. It's a way we can explore the unseen.

He said the same thing about people who take myths literally. Taking the happenings in myth and turning them into literal actions drains the deeper meaning right out of them. Religious and legend fundamentalism may simply be about attempting to understand the world in an effort to feel safe, not as a way to explore.

I'm very inspired by this quote of his!

"Writer's block results from too much head. Cut off your head. Pegasus, poetry, was born of Medusa when her head was cut off. You have to be reckless when writing. Be as crazy as your conscience allows"

*Taken from the Facebook page of Joseph Campbell, quoting A Joseph Campbell Companion: Relections on the Art of Living.

Picture of Fenrir from :  freewebs.com

Friday, May 4, 2012

Aesop's Fables

Oh my goodness! I woke up today to Aesop's Fables as the Book of the Day! When I was little, starting around 6 or 7, this was my second favourite book, after Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio. I often kept them right on top of each other. That may seem strange, given that I said in the last post how I hate stories with lessons, and of course Aesop's Fables are nothing but lessons! On top of that, I hardly ever agreed with the point. Why should a tortoise be dashed on rocks just because he was pleased someone thought he was the King of Tortoises (The Tortoise and the Ducks)? Why should a donkey be punished for trying to lighten his load (The Ass and the Load of Salt). Why shouldn't a jackdaw dream of being an eagle (The Eagle and the Jackdaw)? It seemed to me like the message often was, "keep your place".

Then sometimes a fable of compassion and consideration jumped out (The Boys and the Frogs). I liked that message, but the lesson wasn't the point of reading these fables. I read them in spite of the lesson in each one.

Why did I love them so very much? And still do? Maybe it is how everything is filled with consciousness, like in The Oak and the Reeds, where all the characters are plant-life. Or maybe it is because all the characters are usually animals (I love critters!), with the occasional mean human critter in the guise of a boy or farmer. The complexities of human interactions are put into the lives of animals, where the petty actions of humans do not belong, and this was obvious even to me at 7. It makes the "lessons" seem ridiculous.

The Fables to me seem to put all the inane over-judging of humans into perspective. Of course we should prepare for the winter, but we should be able to also play, instead of the dichotomy in The Ants and the Grasshopper. At 7, I believed that people bent on evil could still be talked into compassion, unlike the Wolf in The Wolf in the Lamb, but now know that is often not the case. But I also now know that it does sometimes happen, that sometimes a closed heart can be open by the right person.

I guess I love the Fables because they takes this false world of this-or-that, black-and-white, with-us-or-against-us and show one of the characters in such a situation coming to a terrible end - something that doesn't have to be. It shows the whole dichotomous mindset as being ludicrous, a mindset we aren't bound to. We can choose to think and feel and act in a multilayered way.

Plus, the Fables are full of critters.

You can read Aesop's Fables here:

Aesop's Fables at the International Children's Digital Library

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The International Children's Library

The International Children's Digital Library has quickly become one of my very favourite web sites EVER. It is literally an online library for children's books, is VERY interactive and a lot of fun. You can read books by flipping through them in a web file, not pdf. It's fun even doing the search for books!

The ICDL has a "Book of the Day", which is a kids' book you can read on an active web page, like the others, instead of in pdf form. If you have Google as your home page, in the iGoogle format, you can add the ICDL as a gadget. I have that, and wake up every morning to a new children's book with my coffee! Very happy :)

Today's BotD is the 1903 picture book, Humpty Dumpty, located here:

Denslow's Humpty Dumpty

Old children's books are so curious in how they almost always seem to have the goal of teaching kids lessons, which this picture book, Humpty Dumpty does. From the summary:

" The story of Humpty Dumpty's son and how he avoids making the same mistakes his father made."

I really do not like stories-as-lessons at all, but seen in the perspective of history, it is a very interesting thing to me. It is one reason why I LOVE Mark Twain so much, because he hated that too and made a point of very much not teaching kids lessons, and maybe even encouraging them to go afield. :D

This Humpty Dumpty is very cheerful, and I really like how Humpty Dumpty's son is given life and how he chooses to have a happy life. Maybe it's inescapable in almost any story to have a lesson because our minds are geared to learn from our, or others', mistakes. I guess it is just the "Sunday School" tone that a lot of kids books had in the past that can get tiring, but I do love it from an historical perspective - and from the perspective that people today still try to move kids' lit towards that.

Please go to this site! If you love kids' books, you will love it there. You can also help translate children's books without speaking the other language. They have a mission to help connect people on the planet through children's books. Be sure to register before doing this because that is interactive also, but you can do it without registering and is a very uncomplicated process! Have fun! :) Read at the   ICDL

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Storytelling, and a Wonderful Quote by Philip Pullman

I knew that Philip Pullman would be one of my favorite all-time writers when, after reading His Dark Materials, I saw on his website that he also writes picture books. His Dark Materials is complex and layered and disturbing, with a core of happiness in Lyra. Picture books, on the other hand, are thought of by most people as happy pages for children who haven't learned how to read, simple and vapid.

To me, picture books are profound poetry. You can see that the ones who write and illustrate them also feel this. Children get them. Grown ups who still have the imaginative part of their soul get them. So I am always surprised when the world of adult literature tends to view children's literature as not very meaty. Frankly, it makes me not want to read adult literature, because I figure that most adult lit, like most adults, have lost their imaginative core.

The way that Philip Pullman tells his stories in prose is something I admire so much. To think of his imaginative worlds told in the tighter bubbles of story-verse, where every word has a weight, felt to me like a colorful Beowulf.

I'm so glad he is on the planet! A future post will be specifically to talk about his picture books.

As said by Philip Pullman: "The meaning of a story emerges in the meeting between the words on the page and the thoughts in the reader's mind. So when people ask me what I meant by this story, or what was the message I was trying to convey in that one, I have to explain that I'm not going to explain.
Anyway, I'm not in the message business; I'm in the 'Once upon a time' business."