Your Butt’s too Big

Down-Syndrome-Child-1

Years ago, when I taught at Ch’ooshgai Community School on the Navajo Nation, the students there had a reputation for playing rough, but when it came to it, they had big hearts. Like students at all schools, they resented the Special Ed students for being given lighter work for the same grades. However when a little Down’s syndrome girl showed up at school, she became a celebrity.

Yvonne was one of the handful of students who stayed in the Special Ed room instead of attending at least some regular classes. In spite if this, like every other student in school, she was supposed to take her seat and stay there when she came to class, and that meant that she was supposed to be in her seat when the door was open and kids were in the hall.

That was an utter impossibility for Yvonne. She was endlessly in the doorway with her hopelessly smeared glasses, swinging her leg like a ballerina at the bar, waving and calling out cheerfully to the passing students. I would hear time and again from across the hall: “Yvonne! Where are you supposed to be?” and, “Yvonne, take your seat!” Kids liked her, even if they did call her names.

One day, she grandly sang out a little rhyme:
“Your butt’s too big, your butt’s too big,
No matter what you do, your butt’s too big…”

“Yvonne! Get to your seat, now!”

But before everyone was in class, I heard:

“Your butt’s too big, your butt’s too big,
No matter what you do, your butt’s too big…”

Soon, passing students were taking up the chant each time they saw her in the doorway. “Whose butt is too big?” became the burning student question. The Special Ed teacher’s? She’s got a big enough butt, they said. No. It had to be the old witch from the Office. Or was it a particular student? They would ask Yvonne.

And her reply was:
“Whose butt’s too big? Whose butt’s too big?
If you don’t know, your butt’s too big.
Your butt’s too big, your butt’s too big,
No matter what you do, your butt’s too big…”

One noon, Yvonne came marching down the hallway with all of the verve and poise of a first string cheerleader, followed by the entire student body, chanting at the top of their lungs, the kids near the walls pounding the locker doors in time:
“Your butt’s too big! your butt’s too big!
No matter what you do, your butt’s too big…!”

The following noon, the Special Ed door stayed closed. There was a brief interlude of students chanting: “Y-vonne! Y-vonne! Y-vonne! Y-vonne!” but every noon thereafter, the Special Ed door remained shut. Even so, I seldom heard a day go by without at least someone chanting a verse of Your Butt’s too Big, all the way to the end of the school year.

So in spite of the best efforts of Special Ed, Yvonne may well have become the most specially remembered of all the students in her class.

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Tom Phipps

Rave Reviews Book Club’s “Spotlight” Author Blog Tour for Author John Fioravanti

Author Pic, Blog Tour 10-17-14

 

Hello, I’m John Fioravanti, and welcome to the tenth post of my “Spotlight Blog Tour” sponsored by my family at Rave Reviews Book Club. I am so grateful and excited to be a guest today with Carol Marrs Phipps!

In earlier posts this week I have talked about several aspects of my new novel, Passion and Struggle  Publishing your very first work of fiction is a very exciting experience! It has also been an exhausting journey, too! On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked about my experience as an Indie author/publisher. Today, I’ll describe my journey to date.
About Indie Publishing

Prior to my novel, my two published non-fiction works, Getting It Right in History Class  and A Personal Journey to the Heart of Teaching  were released by Indie Publishers. I had no real idea what was involved in getting a manuscript prepared for publication. When Anne and I decided to become business partners in December, 2014, and launch our own Independent publishing house, we had a lot of help!

Teaching Cover, Blog Tour 10-17-14

My award-winning ‘Journey’ book was published by Iceberg Publishing  owned and operated by the Tam family here in Waterloo, Ontario. Iceberg was founded in 2002 and they took me in as an author in 2006. Journey was published in 2007, and it won an IPPY Bronze Medal in May, 2008  When Anne and I decided to strike out on our own, the Tams enthusiastically agreed and suggested that Iceberg Publishing should enter into an alliance with Fiora Books – separate companies, but allied.

What did that alliance look like? We operate separately with our own websites, our own contracts with retailers, printers, and the like. Kenneth Tam, my former student, is Iceberg’s most prolific author and their IT person, so he offered to teach me the business end of publishing. I thank my lucky stars that he did!

I remember that December evening when my wife and I pored over the task sheet that Kenneth and his parents, Jacqui and Peter, had created for us as a guideline. Task #1 – company name. ‘Fiora Books’ came fairly easily – as a play on my surname. When I taught high school, I prepared writing skill guides for my students to follow, and I called them ‘FioraBooks’. They thought that was cute. Then one year, I set up a system of bonus marks they could earn, and issued play money that I called ‘FioraBucks’ – they thought that was cuter yet. So that was settled.

Task #2 – create a logo. “Fiora” translates from Italian as “flowers”. So we thought our company logo had to have a book or books and a flower. I suggested a rose since it is Anne’s favourite flower. I can’t draw to save my life, so I went looking online, found what I was looking for, bought the rights to it, and we had our logo. Then I suggested we have a tag line to go with the logo. I liked Iceberg’s, “Look beneath the surface” – that went beautifully with the concept of an Iceberg. As you’re reading – look for meaning beneath the surface. I thought and thought… Anne could smell the wood burning! Then it hit me out of the blue… I have loved reading books since I was a kid – over five decades of reading! How to express that? Bang! It hit me again… getting bruised up pretty good here… “Cherish the written word.” Anne loved it and so did I. Check out our website and see if you like the combination.

Once I got the company registered with the Province of Ontario and we had our business licence, then we were ready to set up our website. Kenneth designed that after consulting with us, and then taught me how to maintain the site. Then he told me to start writing a blog each week, if not more often. A blog? What’s that? He’s a very patient and sensitive young man, so he didn’t laugh at me. So Anne and I learned to blog. Then we followed his suggestions and set up our Fiora Books page on Facebook, and a similar account on Twitter. Then Kenneth explained about Tweets. Tweets? Why do I gotta go Tweeting online?? What’s this got to do with publishing? He rolled his eyes as I ranted on about silly birdies… oh my! It’s about online marketing, he explained. Gee… I don’t know anything about that.

After four months of intense online research I started to understand a few things about book marketing in the twenty-first century. I found out that there are tons of Indie authors and publishers worldwide. No Kidding! Yes, and they are gradually wrestling large numbers of consumers away from the mainstream publishers. Really? Uh-huh, right again. It was near the end of that sojourn into the wonderful world of online research that I found a gentleman in the UK who was participating in a LinkedIn book marketing group discussion. His name is Chris Ward, and he gave me the best online advice I had yet received. He suggested that I join the Rave Reviews Book Club because they are all about helping fellow Indie authors/publishers be successful.

What did I do? I did the second smartest thing I’ve ever done in my 63 years – I joined Nonnie Jules’ Rave Reviews Book Club! What was the first smartest thing I did? I married Anne Runstedler in 1973… you had to ask?