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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Marilyn Singer, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Poetry Friday: “Broadway Moon Again” from A Full Moon is Rising

marilyn singerMarilyn Singer is the author of more than eighty-five children’s books, including many poetry collections. Her works have won numerous honors, including the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor and the Orbis Pictus Honor. A Full Moon is Rising is a collection of poems that bring readers on a whirlwind tour of the world to discover an amazing collection of full moon celebrations, beliefs, customs, and facts. You can find out more about Marilyn Singer and her work on her website here.

Since April is National Poetry Month, we asked author Marilyn Singer to tell us a little bit more about what inspired her to write A Full Moon is Rising:

I’ve always been entranced by the moon—especially when it’s full.  In NYC, where I live, it can sometimes be hard to see because of the tall buildings.  But one night in Midtown Manhattan (and many times thereafter), I saw it peeking out between two skyscrapers.  I’m a big theatre-goer, and I had the image of that moon being an actor who’d been waiting to make a grand appearance.  That inspired “Broadway Moon” and “Broadway Moon Again,” the opening and closing poems of A Full Moon is Rising.

broadway moon again poem

“Broadway Moon Again”

“Broadway Moon Again”

New York City, USA

On the sidewalk, the audience of one

is now ten.

“What you looking at, girl?” they ask.

“Oh, the moon,” she says. “Just the moon.”

But what a moon!

Between the skyscrapers, it takes a bow.

“Encore in one month!” it proclaims.

“Admission is always free.”

Further Reading:

Poetry Friday: Andrea Cheng & Etched in Clay

Marilyn Singer on how to read a poem out loud


Filed under: guest blogger Tagged: A Full Moon is Rising, children's books, full moon, Marilyn Singer, National Poetry Month, New York City, poetry

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2. DECONSTRUCTING A POEM...and Happy Last Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month 2014!

.
Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday!  
Today's host is Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference.
Thank you, Tabatha!

Our Carmela is out to make trouble.  I swear...she's a full-blown cyclone blowing through Poetry Month!

(Actually, she's not.  I'm just playin' with you.  I've been on the look-out for metaphors all month on my website, and that was a metaphor, blowing by...the poem on my site today compares writing to a challenging walk...)

Carmela has posted (and reads aloud) two versions of one of my poems, and she suggested I talk about the process of writing and revising it.

So...here's the story behind HOW TO READ A POEM ALOUD:

I was asked to help organize a poetry coffee house night for teens, and I wanted to teach them how to read aloud. Could I smush all the information into a poem, I wondered?  My teacher Myra Cohn Livingston always read poems aloud twice; I knew I wanted to include that in my instructions.

I've found nine versions of this poem; there may be more.  But don't panic--I won't make you read every draft!  Here's the very first version:

2/8/07  
READ ALOUD HOWS

Take a sip of water.

Read the title to your daughter. 

Pause.

Read the poet’s name.

Read the poem.

Read it once again

Take your time.

Say each word slowly

Let each word shine.

Take a breath and sigh.

Then think of how the poet put her hand to pen 

and why.
=========================
and here are the next several versions mashed together so you can see the ideas I tried and discarded...

HOW TO READ A POEM ALOUD

[Sit down in a meadow with a friend.
Tell the poet’s name and the title—
Now begin.]

[Stand up in your kitchen with your friend.
Tell the poet’s name and the title—
Now begin.]

[Walk home from the bus stop with your friend.
Tell the poet’s name and the title—
Now begin.]

[Take a sip of tea.
Tell the poet’s name to your friend.]

[Take a sip of tea.
Read the poet’s name
and say its title deliciously
to me.]

[To begin,
say the title
and the poet’s name
with a small smile.]

[To begin,
announce the title of the poem
and the poet’s name.
Make sure to pronounce it clearly]

[To begin,
read the title of the poem
and the poet’s name.
Be clear.]

Now—[your job is to] completely disappear

Say [taste] its title
deliciously.

Tell the poet’s name to me.

[Tell the poet’s name to me.
Taste her title deliciously.]

Pause. 

[Be sure you’re heard
so I can savour every word.]

Now:
   savour  [polish]
     every 
       word.

Let 
  each
    shine.

Then—read it one more time.

Next, take a breath
and sigh.

Then think about the poet 
at her desk
late at night
picking up her pen to write—

and why.
*   *   *   *   *   
 And here some of my moods as I write
and rewrite and write and rewrite (can you relate?):

...confused...

...determined...

...patient...

At some point on this journey, I read Marilyn Singer's prose,"How to Read a Poem Aloud"...and though it's a terrific list, it made my head spin, so I decided to stick with just the few points I'd been working with.

*   *   *   *   *  

And finally, here are the two versions Carmela posted (they've been floating around the internet, passing each other in the night, for years)...which do you like best?

            Version #1

            HOW TO READ A POEM ALOUD

            First, read the title of the poem
            and the poet’s name.

            Be clear.

            Now completely
            disappear.

            Let each line
            shine.

            Then read it
            one more time.

            When the poem
            ends, sigh.

            Think about the poet at her desk,
            late at night, picking up her pen to write--

            and why.
                             
*   *   *   *   *
Version #2 (as published in Sylvia Vardell's book, 


HOW TO READ A POEM ALOUD

            To begin,
            tell the poet’s name 
            and the title 
            to your friend.

            Savor every word—
            let 
                each 
                        line 
                              shine.

          Then—
          read it one more time.

          Now, take a breath—
          and sigh.

          Then think about the poet,
          at her desk,
          late at night,
          picking up her pen to write—

          and why.
                             © April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved. 

Do I like one version better than the other?  Depends on what day you catch me.  That's the trick in creating something, isn't it: sometimes I know, I just know when it's finished: there's that satisfying click of the lasts puzzle piece...
from morguefile.com

 But just as often, I just...get...(yawn) t i r e d...so...I stop.

And that, dear campers, is the story behind HOW TO READ A POEM ALOUD!

Now, go outside and play.

posted with a glue gun by April Halprin Wayland.
(p.s: I've just been interviewed by author
and Seminar on Jewish Story organizer Barbara Krasner here.)

from mykidcraft.com

0 Comments on DECONSTRUCTING A POEM...and Happy Last Poetry Friday of National Poetry Month 2014! as of 4/25/2014 6:41:00 AM
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3. Tallulah's Solo Today













Today is the official publication date for Tallulah's Solo.
Written by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by me, published by Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I hope everybody will enjoy this sweet follow-up to Tallulah's Tutu.
Un, deux, trois..the curtain is up!

"A lovely story that gently and effectively presents common childhood difficulties wrapped in a world of tutus and sparkles."--Kirkus
"A lovely tribute to the closeness of brothers and sisters, this title holds appeal for the child needing patience, yet wanting to be recognized."--School Library Journal

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4. Upcoming Appearances

Sunday, May 20,  1-3 pm:
Book Signing of Tallulah's Solo, with Marilyn Singer
Books Of Wonder18 West 18th Street
New York, NY

Thursday, May 24, 7 pm:
Performance of Tallulah's Solo and Book Signing, with Marilyn Singer
The Third Street Music School
235 E. 11th St.
New York, NY

 Sunday, June 24
Book Signing of Tallulah's Solo with Marilyn Singer
ALA, Anaheim 

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5. One Writer's Process: Marilyn Singer

“Some kids like to play baseball, some prefer playing house, and more than a few enjoy both,” says Marilyn Singer, the author of over ninety books for children and young adults. “I was a kid who liked to play with words. I was fascinated not only by their sounds and their definitions, but by their shades of meaning. I would take my paper dolls and concoct elaborate descriptions of their

4 Comments on One Writer's Process: Marilyn Singer, last added: 5/15/2012
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6. Compiling Rigorous Thematic Text Sets

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

One aspect of the Common Core that I get asked questions about all the time is thematic text sets.  What are they?  How do you know which books to use?  What types of texts should you be pairing together?

Fear not!  I’ve compiled some examples of text sets that cover one topic and span multiple genres and reading levels and over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing these sets with you.  Some of the titles you may already have in your classroom library, and others I think you’ll enjoy discovering.

A-Full-Moon-Is-Rising

Theme/topic:  The Moon

Grade: 2nd

Informational Text:  The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons (Shared Reading)

  • provides scientific information about the moon
  • can be used to address informational text standards

Nonfiction Poetry:  A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer  (Read Aloud)

  • provides scientific information about the moon
  • provides information regarding moon-related festivals, traditions, holidays, and celebrations
  • can be used to address informational text and literature standards

Realistic Fiction: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen  (Guided Reading)

  • the moon plays a central role in the setting of the story
  • can be used to address literature standards

Realistic Fiction:  Surprise Moon by Caroline Hatton (Independent Reading)

  • discusses celebrations and festivals related to the moon 
  • can be used to address literature standards
from A Full Moon is Rising

from A Full Moon is Rising

What books would you put on this list?  Add your favorites in the comments!


Filed under: Curriculum Corner, Resources Tagged: A Full Moon is Rising, Book Lists, Caroline Hatton, common core standards, common core text sets, fiction, Gail Gibbons, guided reading, independent reading, informational text, Jane Yolen, literacy tips, Marilyn Singer, Nonfiction poetry, Owl Moon, Read Aloud, Reading Aloud, reading comprehension, realistic fiction, shared reading, Surprise Moon, text sets, The Moon Book

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7. Coming on March 21, 2011

I am finally introducing Tallulah's Tutu!!





 A wonderful new character, so eloquently written by Marilyn Singer.


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8. “Bystander” Named to Ballot of 2012 Charlotte Award Nominees

This is amazing good news. Great news, in fact. I’m happy and proud to say that my book, Bystander, is included on the ballot for the 2012 New York State Reading Association Charlotte Award.

To learn more about the award, and to download a ballot or bookmark, please click here.

The voting is broken down into four categories and includes forty books. Bystander is in the “Grades 6-8/Middle School” category. Really, it’s staggering. There are ten books in this category out of literally an infinity of titles published each year. You do the math, people.

For more background stories on Bystander — that cool inside info you can only find on the interwebs! — please click here (bully memory) and here (my brother John) and here (Nixon’s dog, Checkers) and here (the tyranny of silence).

Below please find all the books on the ballot — congratulations, authors & illustrators! I’m honored to be in your company.

-

GRADES pre K-2/PRIMARY

Bubble Trouble . . . Margaret Mahy/Polly Dunbar

City Dog, Country Frog . . . Mo Willems/Jon J Muth

Clever Jack Takes the Cake . . . Candace Fleming/G. Brian Karas

Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes . . . Margie Palatini/Barry Moser

Memoirs of a Goldfish . . . Devin Scillian/Tim Bower

Otis . . . Loren LongStars Above Us . . . Geoffrey Norman/E.B. Lewis

That Cat Can’t Stay . . . Thad Krasnesky/David Parkins

Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! . . . April Pulley Sayre/Annie Patterson

We Planted a Tree . . . Diane Muldrow/Bob Staake

-

GRADES 3-5/INTERMEDIATE

The Can Man . . . Laura E. Williams/Craig Orback L

Emily’s Fortune . . . Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Family Reminders . . .

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9. I'm Getting a Checkup

I do so adore David Milgrim's illustrations, and he's struck gold again paired with Marilyn Singer in I'm Getting a Checkup.
It's a simple story about visiting the doctor with the great addition of more in-depth explanations of the doctor's tools and procedures. I skipped the definition sections for my 2 year old, but I could easily see this as a smart purchase for reading as your child grows.

Milgrim smartly added those fun little bunnies to each spread - giving levity and humor to what could have otherwise been very dry and dull. I think it's a great example of the fine marriage between text and image that is the hallmark of a good picture book.
Also - Marilyn Singer's website notes that she will be attending Book Expo next week - are any of our readers? I would love to go someday!

2 Comments on I'm Getting a Checkup, last added: 5/20/2011
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10. Poetry Friday: Sylvia Vardell's Clips from the ALA Poetry Blast, Part 3

 

In case you, like me, missed Sylvia Vardell's fantastic series of clips from the ALA Poetry Blast (organized and hosted by Marilyn Singer and Barbara Genco), I'm posting links here. She shared the text of Marilyn's lovely introduction for each poet along with a brief video clip to give you a taste of the work presented. Brilliant!

I last posted links to Sylvia's posts about Nikki Grimes, Mike Artell, and Tracie Vaughn Zimmer.


Here are the final three!

Marilyn Singer - Marilyn is a fabulous poet and the co-organizer/host of the ALA Poetry Blast. Here, she reads several very brief animal pair poems (I'm assuming they're couplets and can't wait to track this book down!) from Twosomes!

Janet Wong - Janet, another fabulous poet, is also co-editor of the premiere children's poetry e-book, Poetry Tag Time. Here she reads her poem from that anthology.

Alan Katz - Sublimely silly poet Alan reads a wonderful poem called, "The English Teacher."

All these clips are very short. Hope you'll find a few minutes to visit the posts and learn more about poets you might not know or just experience the joy of watching and listening to skilled word-wranglers share their work!

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is with Irene at Live. Love. Explore!



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11. Poetry Friday: Two Twosomes from Marilyn Singer


 

Marilyn Singer comes up with the best ideas. Hello! Reverso fairy tales in Mirror Mirror? I often read her books and think, I wish I'd thought of that.

I just read Twosomes: Love Poems from the Animal Kingdom (Alfred E. Knopf, 2011). Each poem is a piece of pun-filled perfection from one animal to its mate. And the form is...(wait for it) couplets! Of course!



Here are two of my favorites.

Elephants

I like your tusks. I like your trunk.
I like your size--you're quite a hunk.

--Marilyn Singer, all rights reserved



Pigeons

We'll spend the day wooing, dodging the cars.
We'll spend the night cooing, under the stars.

--Marilyn Singer, all rights reserved



Sara Lewis Holmes is back to her blog--yay! And she's hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup

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12. Turtle in July

Turtle in July

By Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Scholastic Inc., 1991

Here are some lovely watercolor illustrations done by Jerry Pinkney for a Turtle in July.





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13. Poetry Friday: p*tag compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

I’ve just bought my first e-book.  I realise that might fill some people with horror at how long it’s taken me to jump on the bandwagon, but it was always going to have to be something special that would propel me into action.  Perhaps if I spent more time on public transport, I might have succumbed to an e-reader by now, but as it is…  Anyway, I’ve just downloaded the free Kindle for PC and have taken the leap, tempted as I was by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong‘s e-book p*tag. It’s an exciting anthology of 31 poems newly written and published to coincide with National Teen Read Week this month in the US: “the first ever electronic poetry anthology of new poems by top poets for teens” – and wow, what a roll of poets it is: check it out here.

Following on from the success of their PoetryTagTime project of children’s poetry in April during the US’s national poetry month, this game of poetry tag includes some simple rules to connect the poems – each one had to include three words from the previous person’s poems.  And an added twist is that the poets chose an image from this selection of photographs taken by Sylvia Vardell, as the inspiration for their poem. Each poet then also provided a short introduction to their choice of photograph. All this makes for a very exciting, energetic mix of poetry that can be read and enjoyed in many ways. I loved the added dimension of the word tag used in the cover photograph and to good effect in Janet Wong’s own poem “p*tag” – it rounds off the collection beautifully.

What’s really great is that the conceit of the tagging in no way defines the quality of the individual poems. From Marilyn Singer’s opening reverso poem “Time and Water”, you know you’re in for a treat. The array of names included several I’ve “met” through Poetry Friday, and others who are new to me – what a wonderful way for teenagers to encounter poetry; and the interactive nature of the e-book invites readers to explore each poet’s work more deeply. I was intrigued by Arnold Adoff’s introduction (as much a poem as his actual poem): in it he invites readers to email him so he can send the “original” in its, well, I’d like to say real format, but I’m not sure he would allow the word “real” to slip by – and it’s already on shaky ground in a discussion of e-books. Hmmm! Let’s quote then:

“this poem is in a format to fit the machine you are using now…
but feel free to be in touch [...]
and i’ll send you the “original” and we can talk about:
style and substance an the poet’s hard(est) head….

I’d like to think there’ll be some young poets getting in touch…

With so many ways to find a route into the collection (photographs, the three linking words, each poet’s introduction), not to mention the variety of viewing possibilities for its e-format, these exciting poems touch on so many emotions. From humor to deep pondering, there’s something here for every teen – even the so-called “Reluctant Reader” (Jaime Adoff), and like the goose (or is it a swan?) in Julie Larios’ “Walking, Waiting”, there’s the possibility of ‘a wild honk or two / or three that might surprise y

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14. Books of Poetry for Kids

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 25, 2012

Beautiful Dreamers

In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve hand-picked ten many-splendored new books. Children are born loving poetry from the moment they form their first babbling words to when they begin to tackle more complex rhythms and tongue twisters. As they acquire language and enjoy how it rolls off their tongues, they also gain an appreciation for the beauty of creative expression. Nothing quite tops that moment when they learn to recite their first nursery rhyme. So leave a poem in your child’s pocket and help him discover the appeal of modern poetry.

Every Thing On It

By Shel Silverstein

If you’re like most of us, you may have grown up with Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, or The Giving Tree on your childhood bookshelf. Master wordsmith and doodler Shel Silverstein invented laugh-out-loud silly rhymes for us to endlessly ponder. Every Thing On It has been posthumously published as a new collection of his irreverent poems and characters drawn with his trademark squiggly offhand style. It’s a great joy to share his nonsense poems with a new generation to puzzle over and love for years to come.

Ages 8-11 | Publisher: HarperCollins | September 20, 2011

A Stick Is An Excellent Thing

By Marilyn Singer; Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

What a winning combination Pham’s playful illustrations and Singer’s amusing verse make in this lovely poetry collection. Bouncing rhyme and pictures of active children at play ensure even the most poetry-adverse child will warm to its magical delights. As Singer’s light-handed verse concludes, “A stick is an excellent thing if you find the perfect one.” We’ve certainly found the perfect book of poetry in this one. For more on LeUyen Pham, check out our interview with her.

Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | February 28, 2012

Water Sings Blue

By Kate Coombs; Illustrated by Meilo So

In her first book of poetry, Kate Coombs takes us on a voyage under the sea.

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15. I’m Your Bus by Marilyn Singer - A Review

Reviewed by Irene Roth

I'm Your Bus - Small

Title: I’m Your Bus
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Evan Polenghi
Reading Level: Ages 4 - 8
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-545-08918-0

I’m Your Bus is a cute and delightful book about the daily life of a school bus and his road-hugging buddies. This book has the beep on what makes a school bus so special for kids. Many kids think that school buses are mundane and merely functional. Singer’s story will transform every child’s idea of a school bus. One of the striking features of Singer’s story is how she personifies the bus.

The bus is always ready to drive the kids to and from school each morning and take them home in the afternoon. And in between those pick-ups and drop-offs, the bus spends time with other parked buses or driving around town.

The book is written rhythmically to involve the young reader. Each page is chock full of words that are pleasing to the ear and pictures that are vivid and colorful to the eye. Who would think that a school bus could make a child so happy and content?

The artwork and illustrations in the book are mesmerizing as well. Polenhi is a gifted artist. The cover of the book includes a picture of a big, yellow school bus. The front of the bus is painted as a face with the windshields the two eyes and the top of hood is the nose while under the hood is the mouth.

When I think back to my own school bus experiences, I wish I had read a great school bus story like this. I can still remember some of the cold and uncomfortable bus rides that I had on my way to and from school. Singer’s book might have helped to make my bus rides much more enjoyable. And I’m sure it will do the same for all the kids who read this book.

About the author: Marilyn Singer is the author of more than 80 books for children in many genres. She has won several Children’s Choice and Parents’ Choice awards, as well as a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honour Book prize for Creature Carnival. Her picture book City Lullaby was recently cited by Time magazine as one of the top Ten Children’s Books for 2007. Singer lives in Washington, Connecticut, and Brooklyn, New York, where there are many school buses.

About the Illustrator: Evan Polenghi is the art director for the Learning Maestros, a children’s music publishing company. In addition, Evan has created designs for Gap Kids and Baby Gap. His illustrations have appeared in the Chicken Socks book Eye Find, and have been part of many popular advertising campaigns, including print media for Toshiba and American Express. Polenghi lives in New York City.

irenecropAbout the Reviewer: Irene S. Roth is a freelance writer for kids and young adults. She has articles which will be published in Girls’ Life and Boys’ Life. For more information about her, and to read some of her reflections on writing, visit her online at www.sites.google.com/site/irenerothfreelancewriter. Also visit her blog at: www.szabowska.wordpress.com

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16. What Makes a Good Picture Book?

Marilyn Singer, who's authored over eighty books for children and young adults, asked a group of authors, editors, and other book people this question: What Makes a Good Young Picture Book?

Their responses appear at her web site, and we can take away several things from the conversation.

Many responders mentioned that picture books must deal with universal themes, which are shared across cultures, genders, and age levels. For example, Harriet Ziefert, author of You Can't See Your Bones With Binoculars, says

I believe there are issues that surface in childhood that continue throughout our lives, and that when we're eighty, we're still negotiating these basic issues: separation, loss, and reunion; dependence vs. independence; insecurity (which includes feelings of jealousy, envy, and rivalry) vs. security; delayed vs. instant gratification.

The stories that have the most powerful effects on both child and adult are ones that deal with at least one of these lifelong struggles. Though a child's experiences are different from a 20-year-old's, and a 30-year-old's are different from a 40-year-old's, the same feelings are at the core.
Many others spoke of the need to take out as carefully as you put in; picture books are meant, after all, to be brief, and not a word can be wasted. Jane Yolen, author of over 600 books including How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? proves this by her very concise response:
Lyrical lines, a recognizable sentiment, compression of story, and a character to love.

And finally, several responders spoke of a picture book's ability to make its own world, no matter how new or foreign to a child, one in which he or she will feel welcome. Luann Toth, Senior Book Review Editor of School Library Journal, states it perfectly when she says
I think that the best books for this audience are the ones that tap dir

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17. Poetry Friday

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse Marilyn Singer

There are always different ways to look at things-- whether there's a different perspective to take on a story, or a different way to read a poem...

In this book, Singer uses a the reverso form-- a poem that can be read in the normal fashion and mean one thing, or you can read it up to bottom, change some capital letters and punctuation, and you get an entirely different poem. And these reversos tell two sides to some familiar tales...

I give you "Bears in the News"

The first way it's presented:

ASLEEP IN CUB'S BED,
BLONDE
STARTLED BY
BEARS,
the headline read.
Next day
Goldilocks claimed,
"They shouldn't have left
the door
unlocked."
She
ate the porridge.
She
broke
a chair.
"Big deal?
No!
They weren't there."

And now, just by flipping the order of the lines, a very different side of the story:

They weren't there.
No
big deal?!
A chair
broke.
She
ate the porridge.
She
unlocked
the door.
"They shouldn't have left,"
Goldilocks claimed.
Next day
the headline read:
BEARS STARTLED
BY BLONDE
ASLEEP IN CUB'S BED.


Round up is over at Paper Tigers!


Book Provided by... my local library. A big thanks to Lauren for demanding I read it!

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18. Poem of the Day: The Doubtful Duckling (by Marilyn Singer)


 

I just read Marilyn Singer's fantastic new picture book, Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse (Dutton, 2010, stunningly illustrated by Josee Masse). Oh! Marilyn has invented a new kind of poem, the reverso. Take a poem, place the lines in reverse order, fiddle with the punctuation and capitalization, and make a brand new poem. Simple, right? Ha! Most of these clever poem pairs represent two different characters, but this one, my favorite, shows two different sides of the Ugly Duckling.

The Doubtful Duckling

Someday
I'll turn into a swan.
No way
I'll stay
an ugly duckling,
stubby and gray.
Plain to see--
look at me.
A beauty I'll be

A beauty I'll be?
Look at me--
plain to see,
stubby and gray.
An ugly duckling
I'll stay.
No way
I'll turn into a swan
someday.

--Marilyn Singer, all rights reserved
 

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19. Between the Covers of a Picture Book

What am I reading now? Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston
 
On Thursday, October 7th, 2010, Julie Bosman published an article for the The New York Times entitled ”Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children.” Bosman illustrated that the decline in picture book sales is the result of numerous factors, most prevalent of which is the overwhelming pressure felt by parents.

Let me begin by saying that I completely understand where parents are coming from. The desire of parents to see their children succeed is admirable. However, I urge parents not to give up on picture books.

Yes, Bosman is correct in describing this aspect of children’s literature as being comprised of “lavish illustrations, cheerful colors and large print wrapped in a glossy jacket.” When you think picture books this is what comes to mind. But there’s so much more.

Authors find a way to impart the most invaluable of lessons in a mere thirty-two pages. They are challenging the traditional approach to picture books and, in doing so, they are fuelling the imagination. Now, if reading level is your primary concern, find comfort in knowing that picture books cover the whole spectrum. On one end, there are the text-light books such as One by Kathryn Otoshi. Here’s an excerpt:

Blue is a quiet color.

Red is a hot head.

Red likes to pick on Blue.

Then, there are the text-medium like Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer. Inside this is what you’ll find:

In my hood,

skipping through the wood,

carrying a basket,

picking berries to eat -

juicy and sweet

what a treat!

But a girl

mustn’t dawdle.

After all, Grandma’s waiting.

On the opposite end, there are the text-heavy books such as Stanley’s Wild Ride by Linda Bailey. Here’s a look inside:

Stanley felt like a million dog biscuits. He ran three whole blocks without stopping! to see his best friend, Alice. When Alice saw Stanley running loose, she got very excited. “Just dig a hole,” said Stanley in dog talk. “It’s easy.” Alice tried, but the dirt was too hard. “There must be a way,” said Stanley. Alice poked at her fence and prodded. Finally she found a loose board that was exactly the size of a dog. “Run for it!” barked Stanley, and they did.

There’s something that fits the needs of every child and parent. So before you close the book on picture books take one more look. You may find exactly what you’ve been looking for.


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20. Poetry Friday: “Ice” by Marilyn Singer

Little Brother has gone off to school today with his sledge in tow, very chirpy about the early dump of snow we have had in the UK. As I expressed concern about the drive over steep, rural roads to get him there, his touchingly confident, “Don’t worry, Dad can handle it,” just showed the gulf between his vision of the wintery landscape and mine. So I am particularly drawn this morning to Marilyn Singer’s “Ice” from her book of poems Footprints on the Roof: Poems about the Earth (Alfred Knopf, 2002):

[...] Out on the street
Dad windmilled like a slapstick dancer
Mom crept like a mincing crab
We tried to tell them
ice respects no one
If you can’t lick it
trick it
But they didn’t want to hear
Then we looped our scarves across our faces
so they couldn’t see us laugh
and slid across the sidewalk
like the earth was one big rink

Yes, that about hits the nail on the head. I love the allusion to the scarves as well. They use them to stifle their giggles, whereas I am fussing to make sure they’re wrapped up warmly enough.

In the book, the poem is simply and effectively illustrated by Meilo So. Her blend of solid delineation and soft, calligraphic brush strokes throughout the book help to bring the poems alive. A definite favorite in our household is the volcano poem “Dormant Dragons” and its accompanying illustration. Having been introduced to Marilyn Singer’s work through Poetry Friday (thank you, fellow bloggers!), I have been collecting some of her books, and it was Meilo So’s cover art that immediately drew me to this particular poetry book and the rest of the series it belongs to. You can read more about that, including what Marilyn Singer herself says about it, as well as some more poems, in a recent post by Tricia over at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Marilyn also has the poem “Burrows” on her website. You can read a 2003 interview with Meilo here, and see some of her art in our Gallery Feature here and on her blog. And since Meilo lives in the Shetland Isles, I’m sure she can empathise with my choice of poem today, too!

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Ms Mac at Check It Out. Head on over!

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