Saturday, October 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Marilyn Singer - October 3

Happy Birthday Marilyn Singer - Born October 3, 1948

Marilyn Singer is very thankful on her dedication pages and when answering questions for interviews.  Her career has been full of ups and downs after a quick and successful beginning. Despite the ups and downs, she has managed to publish over 80 books in many genres including poetry, non-fiction, picture books, young adult literature, and books for adults.  She feels her family, friends, and editors have helped her continue to stay focused on creating great children's books.  Some consider her latest books, Mirror Mirror, I'm Getting a Checkup,  I'm Your Bus, First Food Fight This Fall and Other School Poems, and Shoe Bop!, the best books of her career.

Marilyn Singer has co-hosted Poetry Blast for the American Library Service for Children Conference every year since 2004. This event is very special to Singer because conference attendees are able to hear children's poets read their work.  Singer, not a formally trained poet, credits many of her colleagues including Jane Yolen and Kris O'Connell George with helping her become the poet she is today. She spends countless hours writing poetry which has led to many wonderful books including her first and her favorite poetry collection, Turtle in July.

This week we read Marilyn Singer's latest poetry book,  Mirror, Mirror.  The book is full of poems about familiar fairy tales, but the style is all but familiar.  Singer invented Reverso, a poetry style that when read down is one poem and when read up is a new poem (Check out the Miss Rumphius Blog and their attempts at Reverso).  After reading this book, my daughter said, "Marilyn Singer is very creative. Let's try to write some of those poems on Saturday".  Here our poems:

Someday                                              A human I'll be?
I'll be part of their world,                      look at me -
no way                                                 plain to see
I'll stay                                                 under the sea
a mermaid                                            a mermaid
under the sea,                                       I'll stay,
plain to see -                                         no way
look at me                                            I'll be part of their world
A human I'll be.                                   someday.

- My daughter felt we should make a Little Mermaid Reverso poem.  She sang the songs to help generate ideas. We used the "The Doubtful Duckling" poem from the book as a guide.

Here is my son's poem:

Darth Vader                Luke's Father,
Dun Dun Dun             Dun Dun Dun
Dun Dun Dun             Dun Dun Dun
Dun Dun Dun             Dun Dun Dun
Luke's father?              Darth Vader!

I asked him how we could write about Darth Vader being Luke's Father and he started singing the Darth Vader theme song.  It worked perfectly!

I emailed Marilyn Singer to ask her to share a birthday memory or tradition.  Here is her response:

Almost every year on my birthday, I drive from my home in Brooklyn to the Bronx Zoo.  I lived in the Bronx until I was five, and my folks used to take me to that zoo.  When I grew up, I managed to get there just a few times, and then one year I went on my birthday -- and it became my birthday tradition.  Besides hanging out with the animals, which I love, I also used to take the Skyfari -- an air cable car with great views.  But unfortunately, that ride no longer exists.  However, the Wild Asia monorail is still there, and I like that one as well.

This coming October 3 is on a Sunday, so I'll have company on my trip - my husband is coming to the zoo with me.  I hope he'll want to spend as much time with the fascinating gorillas as I do.  I also hope the sun will be shining, but even if it isn't, I plan on having a perfectly wonderful zoo-ey day!

The next time you go to the zoo check out a few of Marilyn Singer's books to enhance your trip.  We enjoyed exploring What Stinks?, Eggs, and Bottoms Up!: A Book About Rear Ends. But, my favorite was Tough Beginnings: How Baby Animals Survive.  The book is packed full of information about baby animals and their amazing struggles at the beginning of life.   I didn't know that baby wood ducks leapt from the tree where they were born only 24 hours after their birth and that whale calves have to nurse from their mothers up to 40 times a day because they need to go to the surface for air.

Many people are getting excited about Halloween since it is October! Marilyn Singer's Monster Museum is full of great poems about Dracula, Werewolves, Ghosts, and many more.

Check out my previous birthday post about Marilyn Singer from my days teaching fourth grade. I focused on the books On the Same Day in March and Didi and Daddy on the Promenade.

Thank you Marilyn for sharing your birthday tradition and memories. We love your books!


1. Marilyn Singer Website
2. ALSC Poetry Blast Facebook Page - Administrated by Marilyn Singer
3. Many Great Interviews with Marilyn Singer
4. Marilyn's Top 10 Tips for Writing Poetry
5. Marilyn Singer Original Poem for GottaBook

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