Books by Marilyn Singer

Marilyn Singer is the author of many books, including two previous collaborations with Frané Lessac-Nine O'Clock Lullaby and On the Same Day in March. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


WHO NAMED THEIR PONY MACARONI? by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2019

"A popular topic explored with humor and respect for its furred, feathered, and four- (more or less) legged cast. (bibliography) (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)"
"Along with children, First Ladies, and presidents, / the executive mansion had notable residents." Read full book review >
HAIR! by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 2, 2019

"Sure to be welcomed in settings with curious elementary-age children. (hair trivia, glossary, selected bibliography, further reading) (Nonfiction. 7-10)"
Mammals, including humans, are distinguished by having hair, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, in many colors and forms, and for many purposes. Read full book review >
I'M THE BIG ONE NOW! by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 5, 2019

"The creators' matter-of-fact embrace of inclusion is the highlight of an otherwise uneven poetry collection. (Picture book/poetry. 5-7)"
Award-winning poet Singer explores the stumbles and triumphs that go hand in hand as preschoolers become big kids. Read full book review >
HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT LADY BIRD? by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 16, 2018

"Some issues with design and tone but a mostly worthy appreciation of the women who stood and stand (if, sometimes, only figuratively) next to the presidents. (Poetry/collective biography. 7-10)"
"We know Eleanor Roosevelt, Abigail Adams, / but what about those other madams"? Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2018

"A visually and sonically stunning introduction to the importance of appreciating time and the change of seasons throughout the world: a multicultural gem. (Picture book/poetry. 4-12)"
The passing of the year celebrated round the world through verse and collage. Read full book review >
FEEL THE BEAT by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 7, 2017

"Though some poems fall flat, overall it's an effective introduction to the merriment of dance enjoyed by diverse cultures the world over. (notes) (Picture book/poetry. 6-11)"
Singer explores diverse dance styles through poetry. Read full book review >
MISS MUFFET by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"Serious fun whether read or performed. (Picture book. 7-10)"
An old nursery rhyme expands with great silliness and literary sophistication. Read full book review >
WHAT'S A BANANA? by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 30, 2016

"Quick but savory fare, both sonic and visual, for pre- or newly independent readers. (Picture book. 3-5)"
Two award winners pair wordplay and food play. Read full book review >
ECHO ECHO by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 16, 2016

"In all, though, a visual and interpretive feast bringing timeless tales to a young audience. (Picture book/poetry. 8-12)"
Poetic portraits of well-known figures from Greek mythology. Read full book review >
TALLULAH'S TAP SHOES by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 5, 2015

"The ballerina-to-be explores new and challenging steps—successfully. (Picture book. 4-7)"
To toe or to tap—that is the question for Tallulah. Read full book review >
I'M GONNA CLIMB A MOUNTAIN IN MY PATENT LEATHER SHOES by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 2, 2014

"So can a girl rough it in ruffles? Silly question. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A little girl takes all her feminine favorites on a camping trip. Read full book review >
RUTHERFORD B., WHO WAS HE? by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 17, 2013

"Carefully crafted poetry and artwork ideally suited to history buffs. (author's note, presidential biographies, sources) (Informational picture book/poetry. 9-13)"
Witty poetry and equally clever caricatures of all 43 presidents create a book that can add spice to serious studies, but it's not for beginners. Read full book review >
TALLULAH'S NUTCRACKER by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"Tallulah shines as a real little dancer with her own distinct style, learning step by step. (Picture book. 4-8)"
In the fourth entry in the popular series about budding ballerina Tallulah, she wins a part as a mouse in a professional production of The Nutcracker, but the performance doesn't turn out as she imagines. Read full book review >
TALLULAH'S TOE SHOES by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 19, 2013

"A charming entry in the ongoing saga of Tallulah. (Picture book. 4-7)"
Toe shoes are de rigueur for ballerinas, and Tallulah wants them—now! Read full book review >
FOLLOW FOLLOW by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 7, 2013

"Read alongside the traditional tales it plays off of or enjoyed on its own, this volume is one to savor. (about reversos, about the tales) (Picture book/poetry. 8-12)"
A companion piece to the acclaimed Mirror, Mirror (2010), this offering presents more delightful "reverso" poems to treasure. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2012

"A felicitous pairing of two children's literature pros to encourage our sense of wonder. (Picture book/poetry. 5-12)"
Poems in varied forms urge readers to marvel at animals living in surprising environments. Read full book review >
THE SUPERHEROES EMPLOYMENT AGENCY by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 24, 2012

"When budgets or problems aren't quite right for the likes of Spider-Man or the Dark Knight, here's a reasonably priced alternative. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)"
From Blunder Woman to Stuporman, this gallery of underemployed B-list superheroes is up for any task. Read full book review >
TALLULAH'S SOLO by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2012

"A lovely story that gently and effectively presents common childhood difficulties wrapped in a world of tutus and sparkles. (Picture book. 3-7)"
The ballerina-in-training sparkles in her return engagement when she learns to be a good big sister and to share the spotlight. Read full book review >
THE BOY WHO CRIED ALIEN by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 20, 2012

"Inventive, musical rhyming pulls this effort, while the story and illustrations watch from the sidelines. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A prairie fire of wordplay engulfs Singer's otherwise silly tale of visiting aliens. Read full book review >
EVERY DAY'S A DOG DAY: A YEAR IN POEMS by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 15, 2012

"These cute dogs and kids don't break any new ground in the crowded field of dog-themed books for children. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)"
A chronological collection of 30 short poems follows four canine pals and their young owners through a calendar year, in an earnest but uneven effort that tries too hard to please, rather like an overly enthusiastic Labrador. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 27, 2012

"A thrilling integration of verse and image, motivating all to serious fun. (Picture book/poetry. 3-8)"
Turning the adage that sticks and stones may break one's bones on its ear, picture-book titans Singer and Pham team up to entice young readers to go where most Generation Xbox angels fear to tread: outside. Read full book review >
WHAT IS YOUR DOG DOING? by Marilyn Singer
ANIMALS
Released: June 7, 2011

"Amiable and entertaining, just like a well-behaved canine companion. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Snappy illustrations and a short, rhyming text depict a collection of canines in humorous activities from dreaming and scheming to shedding and sledding in this fetching story suitable as a read-aloud for young children or for newly independent readers. Read full book review >
TALLULAH'S TUTU by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2011

Young Tallulah knows she can be "a great ballerina—if only she had a tutu." She works hard in ballet class, which her mother tells her is also necessary, but her teacher rewards her with hugs—not a tutu. Tallulah decides that the tutu must be coming from Paris but is stuck in traffic in New Jersey. Several classes later the tutu still has not arrived, so Tallulah throws a tutu temper tantrum and quits. She does keep dancing in the street, in the park and in the supermarket. There, an encounter with a tutu-clad young girl who cannot dance turns the tables and Tallulah sees the light. She will take class and, in time, earn her tutu. The setting is an upscale New York City neighborhood artfully depicted in the watercolor illustrations. Tallulah's little brother, who loves to dance, and an adorable dog provide some comic relief. The glittery pink cover and endpaper spreads of the five ballet positions are appealing, and Singer weaves the language of ballet throughout her story. Unfortunately, the behavioral issues are too easily resolved, leaving readers to believe that earning a tutu really doesn't take all that much more application than Tallulah has already shown. An additional purchase. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
MIRROR MIRROR by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2010

A collection of masterful fairy-tale-inspired reversos—a poetic form invented by the author, in which each poem is presented forward and backward. Although the words are identical in each presentation, changes in punctuation, line breaks and capitalization create two pieces that tell completely different stories. "In the Hood," for instance, first presents Red Riding Hood's perspective: "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." Reversed, we hear from the wolf: "After all, Grandma's waiting / mustn't dawdle... / But a girl! / What a treat— / juicy and sweet / picking berries to eat, / carrying a basket, / skipping through the wood / in my 'hood." Masse's gorgeous, stylized illustrations enhance the themes of duality and perspective by presenting images and landscapes that morph in delightful ways from one side of the page to the other. A mesmerizing and seamless celebration of language, imagery and perspective. (note on the form) (Poetry. 8-12)Read full book review >
I’M GETTING A CHECKUP by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 14, 2009

Children's doctors' visits should receive a clean bill of health with this engaging and informational treatment. Direct narration clearly explains a typical well-child exam. The brief rhyming narrative is successfully complemented by boldfaced explanations that provide additional context, defining unfamiliar medical procedures and vocabulary. Describing blood pressure to booster shots, the consistent voice maintains its accessibility. Though rhymes are occasionally forced, the encouraging account maintains its energy throughout: "Her otoscope's so cool— / a small light with a funnel. / We pretend she's searching / for bats down in a tunnel!" Ethnically diverse patients and physicians populate each page. Positive family dynamics are represented in Milgrim's soft cartoons, set against inviting office spaces. Digitally rendered oil spreads utilize nimble lines; characters' smiling expressions add comfort and warmth to the potentially anxiety-producing subject. A silent group of mischievous rabbits provides humorous flair; they create hand-shadow ducks on the wall and throw paper airplanes, providing wacky relief within each examining room. Prescribe this child-centered offering to all nervous young patients. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
I’M YOUR BUS by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2009

A cheery yellow school bus, grille grinning from headlight to headlight, introduces itself to the children it carries from home to school and back again in rhythmic, three-line stanzas: "Watch those backpacks coming through. / Have fun today. Learn something new. / Later I'll come back for you." Like any good bus, it works to remember the children's names, punctuating its narration with personal greetings and goodbyes. The verse form is just right for eager preschoolers to latch onto, and Polenghi's digital illustrations feature busy, colorful scenes with heavy, black outlines, the titular bus dominating every composition. As a first-day-of-school reassurance for newly minted kindergartners, for whom the school bus is an often anxiety-producing rite of passage, this one's top-notch. (Picture book. 4-6)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

Lively and engaging acrylic-and-pastel illustrations that include bits of lace, fabric and other found items accompany 29 poems describing the school experiences, from first day to last, of a middle-grade class. A variety of styles are included: haiku, quatrain, acrostic, free verse and others. Most of the poems are no more than ten to 12 lines and are written in the students' voices, with child-appealing topics like "Tag" and "The Class I Hate." The title poem may make school administrators cringe, as food flies across the double-page spread: "A cafeteria ballad— / it started with tossed salad… / (That lettuce really flew! / We're glad it wasn't stew!)" Happily, the following poem, "Indoor Storm," finds everyone pitching in to clean up the disaster. The interesting combination of identifiable poetic forms and Yoshikawa's amusing illustrations should make this a popular choice for classroom reading, as students recognize at least some of their own school experiences (though, one hopes, not food fights) in the poetry. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10) Read full book review >
SHOE BOP! by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2008

Singer weaves a collection of fanciful poems into a clever salute to shoes. When her adored sneakers deteriorate, a young girl must go shopping for new footwear. However, the sheer abundance of options at the store spurs an effervescent outpouring detailing the delights of shoes. The format of the tale strings together a chain of poems to create a cohesive narrative, neatly using bridging phrases in a larger display type to move the story along. Her sassy poems offer readers a sprightly sampling of forms, as the gloriousness of shoes is explored through limericks, jaunty rhymes and a splendidly keen haiku about "Moccasins." Nakata's watercolor illustrations are imbued with a suitable joie de vivre, which is complemented by her palette of fresh colors. This sparkling tale serves as a fun introduction to poetry as well as a paean to the undeniable appeal of new shoes. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)Read full book review >
EGGS by Marilyn Singer
ANIMALS
Released: March 15, 2008

Birds and spiders, most insects, fish, amphibians and even a few mammals lay eggs. This wide-ranging introduction to the container that protects developing embryos of many species begins with a short explanation of egg structure. The author goes on to discuss physical characteristics—texture, size, shape, color and number—before turning to whether and how animals protect the eggs—by hiding them, brooding them in or on themselves, or building and guarding a nest—and finally, how they hatch. Appealing illustrations include both large-scale and miniature gouache paintings with careful detail. Full pages of comparative images highlight particular points. Text transitions are clear, but too often the author suggests purpose when she means effect: Some eggs are camouflaged "so that predators . . . can't find them" and birds remove eggshells "so that predators aren't alerted to newborn chicks." The backmatter includes helpful information about protecting eggs, a glossary of words italicized in the text, the author's sources, a list of wildlife organizations with websites and an index. An unusual take on a familiar subject. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
CITY LULLABY by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 15, 2007

Inspired by Brooklyn's cacophonous streetscapes, Singer's cumulative rhyme counts down from ten to one: "Traffic jam, 10 horns beeping, / In the stroller, Baby's sleeping." Indeed, slumber continues throughout a riot of mechanical noise, until a chirping bird tweets Baby awake. Cneut's full-bleed mixed-media paintings dispatch traditional perspective: Orange buildings lean, box-like yellow cabs careen and a multiethnic crowd works and plays, jammed up against the picture plane along with garbage cans, cell phones, pets and signs. Display type featuring sound words ("Grumble," "Rinnnngggg") overlays the wall-to-curb compositions. On the contrastingly serene white space above Singer's text, Baby's disembodied facial features (pale blue lashes, sleepy half-smile) float—until the waking page. There, a stylized, larger-than-life portrait of bright-eyed Baby looms, with text and art swapping sides. Cheerfully over-stimulating—a bit like the city itself. (Picture book/poetry. 3-7)Read full book review >
VENOM by Marilyn Singer
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

This substantial introduction to toxic creatures of all kinds, both poisonous (to eat) and venomous (injecting their poison), is chock full of fascinating facts. Organizing the text by habitat, Singer moves from home and garden through desert, woods and jungle, to the sea shores, coral reefs and ocean depths. She discusses some species in several different chapters: Snakes appear in the grass, the desert, the pond, the jungle and the sea. The organization occasionally breaks down. In "Home is where the venom is," the reader learns that black lemurs in Madagascar use millipede poison to repel insects. The busy design is clearly aimed at middle graders who may not recognize the bits of song and poetry behind the catchy chapter titles, but will appreciate the light tone. Sidebars provide extra information and puzzles for the reader. Despite repeated assurances that such animals are of more value than threat to humans, the overall effect is pretty scary. A two page webliography lists an intriguing variety of mostly academic and governmental sites for further exploration of this always interesting subject. (acknowledgments, bibliography, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
HEALTH
Released: Sept. 1, 2005

It isn't often that a book of short stories doesn't hold a clunker or two. Singer has avoided that pitfall with this superb collection. Every story is a winner. The combined talents of some of the finest YA writers, such as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Joyce Sweeney, spin 11 stories with a common theme: a makeover of some kind wherein the heroes find their own unique selves. From an avant-garde French club student to boys in the hood, and even including a lovesick owl, the entries dip into Native American storytelling as well as common high-school adolescent angst, ending with an affecting story of immigration. They have humor, drama, insight and heart-touching warmth, all delivering the moral for which every teen yearns: Yes, you can change; you can become better. A real joy from start to finish. (Fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
MONDAY ON THE MISSISSIPPI by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 6, 2005

This unique introduction to Old Man River combines poetry, art, history and geography into a multifaceted whole that just keeps rolling along down the path of the mighty river's progress. The volume's innovative design includes 14 non-rhyming poems that follow it through the course of a week from its beginnings in Minnesota all the way to New Orleans. Each poem and accompanying double-page-spread illustration offers a different view and more information about it, including important cities, key historical facts and insights into riverboat traffic and transportation. A small inset map of the pertinent city and state under discussion is integrated into each illustration, with a helpful larger map on the title page showing the ten states touched by the mighty river. Some poems include children experiencing it in different ways: boating, fishing, hiking and listening to jazz in New Orleans, while other poems introduce famous people who lived along the river. Vibrant gouache illustrations in a naïve style help bring the Mississippi and its surroundings to life. (author's note) (Picture book/poetry. 5-9) Read full book review >
CENTRAL HEATING by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 2005

Continuing their series of poetic evocations of the natural world, Singer and So present 19 poems about fire, this time printing in a curving, delicate red font and choosing a powerful red for the illustrations. By combining linocut with wash, So manages both bold and wispy effects, much like fire itself. Singer, who has sung water and earth in the earlier collections, has a sure hand, although somehow these poems are slightly less of a treasure than the others. In "Fire-Bringers," she posits the power of the person chosen to carry the fire from Stone Age camp to camp; she muses on the "peculiar party" that happens when neighbors gather to watch an old house burn in "Landmark." Firefighters, fireflies, roasted marshmallows, even a chili pepper get their due. In "Holidays," she notes with keen insight the connection of holidays to fire: menorahs, luminarias, paper lanterns, fireworks. Its engaging design will surely entice readers to open and read, perhaps in front of their own candle, hearth, or stove. (Poetry. 7-11)Read full book review >
FICTION
Released: June 1, 2004

Stories by well-known authors take on highly charged issues of race. The perspectives and experiences portrayed range widely and, as to be expected in an anthology, so does the quality of the stories. While all of these writers are talented, some of the stories seem too blatantly purposeful, offering little beyond the message. Others are more provocative and engaging and will certainly stimulate fiery classroom discussion. Many stories stand out as don't-miss reads for any occasion: Rene Saldaña Jr.'s riff on connecting through music; Kyoko Mori's story of a girl in the rural Midwest caught between her Japanese mother's well-earned bitterness and her white stepsister's complete ease with the world; Marina Budhos's multi-layered, multi-racial love story; or Rita Williams-Garcia's offering—rich, yet light in tone—the only really funny story in the collection. These are the stories that will engage teens point blank, though all will be appreciated in a classroom setting for the intensely complex issues they approach. Great cover art should help sell this generally admirable collection, whose sales will benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance project. (Fiction. 12+)Read full book review >
BLOCK PARTY TODAY! by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 11, 2004

A neighborhood block party is the setting for this spot-on tale of friendship and togetherness. "The first Sunday in June," Singer writes, "the sun comes up smiling on Berkeley Place." On the page opposite, a little girl lies in bed, sunlight streaming through the open window. Later, in a full-bleed spread, the girl, Lola, peeks out her window. Outside, neighbors inflate balloons and set up games. Her friends drag jump ropes down the street. " ‘Isn't Lola going to join us?' asks Yasmin. ‘Maybe, if she ever stops being mad,' answers Sue." Roth's airy watercolors depict a diverse cast of characters dancing, drumming, and lounging in lawn chairs. Shifting perspectives—first from the windowsill, then street level—mimic Lola's movements, as she gets over hurt feelings and moves closer to her friends. It's just a matter of time until the girls set aside their differences to enjoy a summertime tradition. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
CREATURE CARNIVAL by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2004

A true feast for all monster fans, this versified tour gathers creatures from myth, folklore, urban legends, and even films, into a decidedly unsavory sideshow. Visitors will encounter the likes of the Cheshire Cat and Godzilla, a drooling Frog Prince and a ruthless beauty queen mermaid. Or, if they so desire, they can wrestle a multi-armed kraken, or take a ride on, well: "Not a horse, not a bird, / wouldn't drop an egg on us. / Very sleek, very Greek, / In a word: / it's Pegasus." Grimly casts an oddball array of egg-headed, pencil-necked young onlookers, marveling at each unkempt, pop-eyed, usually leering Attraction before ending up being hauled off in a cage themselves. The carnival's residents, nearly three dozen strong, get identifying notes at the end. This attention-getting menagerie will have readers and listeners sitting on the edges—and probably falling right out—of their seats: as the mustachioed barker declaims, "Listen—that's the werewolf's band / over by the I Scream stand. / Ticket, please. I'll stamp your hand." Step right up. (Poetry. 7-10)Read full book review >
HOW TO CROSS A POND by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 12, 2003

The team behind Footprints on the Roof (2002) returns to present another slim, elemental celebration. Poems on such subjects as "Spring in the Garden" and "Water Guns" seek to explore many different aspects of water, inviting readers to muse on the mountain origins of a fire hydrant or the many ways to cross a pond. It is an uneven collection, occasionally settling for the cute wordplay that seems to have become the standard in children's poetry, but it can also soar. A blossom in a "Rain Forest" becomes a pond to its amphibious denizens; a grandmother's memories of bringing water from "Wells" become almost tactile. And at its most breathtaking, it imagines the sadness of the "dry moon / tugging at the earth's oceans / as if she could draw them up / to fill her vast dusty seas." So's illustrations are appropriately enough rendered in washy blue ink, her naturally liquid style finding its apotheosis here. The typography, too, is rendered in blue ink, for a total design that barely escapes preciosity. Take it for its frequently splendid parts, not its whole. (Poetry. 8-12)Read full book review >
FIREFLIES AT MIDNIGHT by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2003

Devoted fans of Turtle in July (1989) will savor each minute spent with this companion collection of chronologically organized poems from the prolific and versatile poet. This time, Singer spreads her evocative poems throughout a single day, from a robin "first to greet the light" and a cavorting otter out for a morning swim to ants in the afternoon, a camouflaged rabbit at dusk, the eponymous fireflies flashing at midnight, and on through the night to a mole digging in for sleep as a new dawn approaches. Singer once again captures the intrinsic character of each animal's nature or movement through innovative poetic devices: swooping rhymes describing the playful otter, a rollicking rhythm for a poem about a horse, and a strong two-beat meter for a monarch butterfly that reflects the beating pattern of its wings. She divides the 14 poems evenly between rhyming and non-rhyming works, and all of them employ unusual rhyme schemes or structures. The innovative poetry is well complemented with unusual photographic illustrations that sometimes look like photographic collages and other times like watercolors or oil paintings. The volume's thoughtful design includes firefly-spangled endpapers and a subtle reminder at the top of each poem delineating the time of day. The midnight blue cover with glowing fireflies hints at the magical nature of what lies inside: luminous poems that will stand the test of time. (Poetry. 5-10)Read full book review >
THE COMPANY OF CROWS by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 23, 2002

Crows and more crows fill the pages of this collection of poems. As she indicates in an introductory poem, Singer (Boo Hoo, Boo-Boo, p. 579, etc.) attempts to present crows from every possible point of view, including that of the crows themselves. Some humans see the crow as a practical joker, a nuisance; some watch and comment upon their habits. A movie critic comments upon their use as symbols of fear, while an artist and poet see their beauty. Even pigs, dogs, and other birds express their opinion. The crows admire themselves and their talents. Although some of the poems work better than others, most of them read as prose, engaging neither the ear nor the heart. The format is a bit confusing. Each poem appears as part of a two-page spread, with the title sometimes far enough away from the text so it may be overlooked. Not that the titles, such as "The Father," "The Boy," and "The Youngster," are interesting or even helpful, although they do give a clue as to the narrator. Some of the titles are repeated and can represent a human or animal voice. Saport's (Before You Were Born, p. 893, etc.) vivid pastels, while richly colorful, are mundane depictions of the most basic action of the text. The author's note at the end of the work is actually more engaging than everything that precedes it because it demonstrates a real love and understanding of the birds. An illustrated nonfiction account of crows and their habits might have been much more successful—see Pringle, above. (Poetry. 7-9)Read full book review >
BOO HOO BOO-BOO by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2002

When trying to do anything new or exciting, there are apt to be some minor bumps and bruises and the children featured in this story manage to shake off their falls and try it again. While the message that it is a good idea to keep going even though they have received a setback is clear, it is unclear whether the children eventually learn that trying to skip rope in a long dress is a bad idea or that running through the house with a toy wrapped around one's waist might lead to another fall. Rhyming text with repetitive sounds fill the text. Illustrations rendered in watercolors seem sloppy rather than childlike, spilling over the pages in a haphazard manner. An overly simplistic message and unremarkable illustrations keep this tale from hitting its mark. Boo hoo, this one is a boo-boo. (Picture book. 2-5)Read full book review >
QUIET NIGHT by Marilyn Singer
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: April 22, 2002

What starts out as a quiet night with only one frog bar-rumming soon turns into a raucous cacophony as two owls, three geese, four fish, and a host of other creatures yowl, scratch, and honk. Finally, ten yawning campers awaken to shine a flashlight on the bug-eyed noisemakers. Singer's (Footprints on the Roof, p. 110, etc.) simple and spare rhyming text is carried by Manders's (What You Never Knew About Tubs, Toilets, and Showers, 2001, etc.) hilarious illustrations. As the rhyme repeats the preceding verses— "Six raccoons churr-rurr, / Five coyotes rowl-yowl, / Four fish whap-slap"—each double spread is increasingly crowded with crazily cavorting critters. The lovely endpapers of the moon over pine trees correspond to the title, which sets the reader up for the noisy surprise between the teasing covers. Great fun for reading and laughing out loud, or even for a choral recitation. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
MONSTER MUSEUM by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

This clever collection of 21 rhyming poems by the versatile Singer (Tough Beginnings: How Baby Animals Survive, p. 805, etc.) follows a group of schoolchildren on a field trip to a most unusual museum. The exhibits include a wide variety of monsters of every sort, including all the favorites from Count Dracula to King Kong, as well as lesser-known creatures such as a banshee and a man-eating plant. Each monster is shown in its museum exhibit, with the visiting children often shown in the foreground. The cleverly detailed watercolors by mysterious illustrator Gris Grimly (a pseudonym for Steven Soenksen) steal the show with hilarious humor and offer careful readers all sorts of visual jokes, with additional monsters peering out from unexpected locations. His monsters are charmingly spooky rather than grotesque, and the schoolchildren also have their own quirky personalities. Singer's poems are lively and humorous (if not great literature), and they impart quite a bit of information about various famous monsters. A "Glos-scary" offers excellent definitions of all the monster variations, with enough concrete information and background to satisfy the most committed monster maniac. (Poetry. 5-10)Read full book review >
TOUGH BEGINNINGS by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 1, 2001

All sorts of baby animals have tough beginnings, whether they are tiny sea turtles scrambling to reach the ocean before they are eaten, cicadas emerging from a 17-year sleep, or penguin chicks surviving in the minus-70-degree temperatures of Antarctica. Singer (Fred's Bed, p. 593, etc.) gives interesting details about a dozen diverse animals from around the world, including opossums, whales, wood ducks, fruit bats, desert spadefoot toads, and kangaroos. The newly hatched Komodo dragon lizard may face the biggest challenge. Papa is a large lizard that eats anything that moves, including his own young. Says Singer in one of her opening captions: "It's not easy when Dad wants to eat you . . ." Each animal is presented in a double-paged spread with a full-color painting capturing both the habitat and the animal described. Especially successful are the plates showing the desert spadefoot toad from egg to adult and the cicada nymph buried under the roots of a tree and also emerging as an adult. Last to be introduced is the human baby. Though Singer writes: "Compared with many other babies, we humans have it easy." She gives brief facts about more animal babies, a note urging conservation, and, on the back cover, connects all the animals introduced with a poem which begins: "It's tough to begin on the beaches, / It's tough to begin in the seas. / It's tough to hang on to your mother, / It's hard to jump out of trees." The picture-book format, handsome paintings, and fascinating choice of facts presented make this an engaging and useful science nature title for younger children. (Nonfiction. 5-8)Read full book review >
FRED’S BED by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 2001

A simple, satisfying, reassuring tale of little Fred's transition from crib to "big boy's bed." Singer's (A Pair of Wings, p. 422, etc.) skill with this age group is apparent as the mother offers her son rhyming options to the crib: "Would you like to rest, in an eagle's nest, way up high near the sky?" and he replies, "Too high." The fantasy continues with the refrain "I need another kind of bed." Adinolfi (The Birthday Letters, 2000, etc.) generously renders colored mixed-media paintings, with turquoise blues and soft lavenders, cherry reds, and lime greens on textured paper, some framed by spongy color and others spreading over the very edges of the page. Each painting displays just the right amount of fantasy and security. Fred tries snuggling down a rabbit hole, a "snooze in the fishy ooze," "a nap in a monkey's lap," among other whimsical places, until his mama provides him with "a big, soft mattress, bright red spread, some fluffy pillows for your head." Just right. (Harper Growing Tree series) (Picture book. 2-4)Read full book review >
DIDI AND DADDY ON THE PROMENADE by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 19, 2001

A preschooler drags her father from his comfy bed for adventures on the landmark Brooklyn Promenade. Well-known as a tourist magnet for its striking views of Manhattan from across New York City's East River, the Promenade is also a haven for the urban residents. Singer's (The Circus Lunicus, 2000, etc.) well-chosen spare sentences describe the simple joys of early childhood, "What will she see today? / A blue car? / A yellow car? / A ship with a flag?" Delightful interactions of father and daughter, " 'Vroom! Zoom!' roars Didi. / 'Wide glide' says Daddy. / Side by side they pretend to ride." Singer masterfully captures the young girl's short attention span from page to page: vehicle spotting, petting puppies, listening to birds, cars, and music, dancing, meeting friends, sliding, playing in the sandbox—all of this on a ribbon of pavement built above the Brooklyn/Queens expressway. Parents will recognize the knowing refrain " 'Didi, go slow!' / But Didi says, " 'No!' " The watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations capture the distinctive qualities of each inhabitant enjoying the day, from the movement of the street musicians to the multitude of dogs, in addition to portraying the uniqueness of place—the wind blowing inland, the light on the river. Small details reflect a knowing eye while giving readers lots to examine. The sweeping panoramic views are strikingly reproduced on double-paged spreads and those who know the area can spot familiar sites from the Statue of Liberty to the twin towers on down to the Brooklyn Bridge. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
A PAIR OF WINGS by Marilyn Singer
ANIMALS
Released: March 15, 2001

This diverse writer, sometimes poet, sometimes humorist, sometimes naturalist, explores the topic of wings—how they are shaped, what they are made of, and how they work for their animal owners. She describes how the long, narrow ones of the arctic tern help the birds soar on air currents, while the rounded ones of the owl give this predator faster takeoff, and the slim crescent-shaped wings of the swallow allow them to twist and turn through the air as they hunt flying insects. She discusses the other uses of wings: to scare off rivals, to attract a mate, to lure an enemy away from a nest, and to cool off a hot bird. The text is rich in details that will intrigue and interest young naturalists, though the format of a large-sized picture book may deter some older readers. Each double-page spread is illustrated with full-color paintings of the flyers discussed. While the illustrations are beautiful and accurate, the inclusion of so many different animals on the same double page without regard for size, or region of the world in which they live, could be distracting. For example, one set of pages shows a black vulture, a bald eagle, a barn owl, a barn swallow, a hummingbird, a great horned owl diving after a mouse, a hummingbird approaching a flower for nectar, a flock of swallows, and two Emperor penguins with baby. Visually it's a lot to absorb. The more successful paintings show a single habitat—a meadow, for instance—and the plants and winged creatures that live in and around it. Additionally, a sequence that shows how a bat uses its wings to catch its lunch is especially effective. The author concludes with Web sites and addresses of organizations to contact for more information about conservation, a glossary, further reading, and a brief index. (Nonfiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
FOOTPRINTS ON THE ROOF by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

Nineteen poems, some rhymed, are paired with So's (Countdown to Spring, p. 50, etc.) ink drawings. The poems are sometimes dry and sometimes didactic, but most are straightforward and occasionally giddy. So's art is by turns whimsical, wild, or reticent. The title comes from "Burrows" a poem about the creatures that live under the "roof" of the earth: rabbits, foxes, snakes. The image of a dragon under the volcano in "Dormant Dragons" is beautifully realized as So turns wash and squiggle into the beast. "Winter Solstice" connects a wintry day in America with the first day of summer in Australia most charmingly. In "Go-Betweens": "They issue warnings / They offer praise / This is trees' work / and they do it with such uncomplaining grace / it never seems like work at all." A swath of soft ink and a perfectly rendered rose reflect the turning of the year in "Summer Solstice"—"The richest garden / the greenest trees / will have a different form / wearing withered leaves like memories / of days when it was warm." Esbensen's venerable Cold Stars and Fireflies (1984) makes a nice accompaniment. (Poetry. 7-10)Read full book review >
THE CIRCUS LUNICUS by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

Solomon (Solly for short) has lots of problems: a mean stepmother, two inconsiderate and lazy stepbrothers, an absent father, and an unresolved longing for mothering. Sound familiar? He also has a fairy godmother, but not the usual sort with wishes and wings and a wand. Freeble is a six-foot-tall talking lizard who conquers the highest levels of computer games and teaches Solly to transform himself into a lizard, too. Singer has created a fantastic, funny, but believable world in which intelligent alligators from planet Reptilia transform themselves into human shape when they perform on earth in the Circus Lunicus. Singer's poetic talents are apparent in her language play with the talking lizard, who has an unusual but perfectly understandable manner of speaking. She skillfully weaves all the elements of the Cinderella mythic structure into her tale, along with the concept of a mother from another species who must return to her own kind. The story is told in short sentences and brief chapters with the appeal of a three-ring circus: laughter, suspense, and a little danger to keep the crowd wanting more. Solly wisely solves his own problems in his own way, finding hidden strengths within himself and help from unexpected sources, just like Cinderella. Luminous and humorous. (Fiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
SOLOMON SNEEZES by Marilyn Singer
Released: Sept. 30, 1999

In the Growing Tree series, a story of sneezing: "Solomon Snorkel has such a big sneeze, he can blow all the leaves off the sycamore trees." One sneeze from Solomon clears the house, the bees from the hives, and separates skiers from their skis. Solomon Snorkel's nose just won't stop tickling and everywhere he goes people tremble in fear of his "A-Choo!" He causes chaos on Mars, and the weather forecaster warns folks coast to coast when a sneeze breeze is about to come through. Although Singer's verse will tickle readers, Floca's silly illustrations really convey the magnitude of Solomon's nose gales. Throughout the book, he cleverly shows only the sneezes' aftermaths, saving a complete tableau of a sneeze in action for the very end. (Picture book. 3-6) Read full book review >
JOSIE TO THE RESCUE by Marilyn Singer
Released: March 1, 1999

Second-grader Josie, with a new baby sibling, finds out that her parents are having financial troubles; she wants to help by coming up with an idea so "wonderful, fabulous, terrific" that it will not only solve their problems, but prove once and for all that she's a more helpful girl than her cousin and rival, Mary Jane. And Josie doesn't lack for ideas. In quick succession she plants a vegetable garden so that her folks won't have to spend money on greens, writes a bogus letter of complaint in an effort to get free goods, and attempts to win a contest for a baby stroller. In this gently humorous tale from Singer (Stay True, 1998, etc.), all Josie's efforts backfire. She ruins her mother's flower garden by mistaking tulip bulbs for onions, gets chided for dishonesty when a diaper company responds to her fraudulent letter by sending her a truckload of disposables, and loses the stroller contest. The story culminates in a satisfying fashion; Josie learns several predictable but important life lessons. It's sweet and smooth, with the rivalry between Josie and Mary Jane spicing up the plot. (Fiction book. 6-9) Read full book review >
STAY TRUE by Marilyn Singer
FICTION
Released: May 1, 1998

Eleven well-known authors—all women—use humor, pathos, and fantasy in a skillfully wrought panoply of short stories that resound with a "you go girl" attitude toward life. From pieces that focus on learning to look beyond surface appearances, to vignettes about being your own person, each story can be enjoyed for its entertainment value alone. However, discerning readers searching for appealing female role models will find numerous insights from writers such as M.E. Kerr, Jennifer Armstrong, Anne Mazer, and Rita Williams-Garcia about what it takes to develop a strong and unique personality. One girl takes pity on the man auditioning to become her stepfather, another dispenses with the whole Cinderella/fairy godmother routine in the name of accomplishing her life, her way—without enchantment. In every story, the heroine faces her problems head on, outwilling a willful grandmother over a summer job or deciding to live large, counting the cost of staying true as a life lesson everyone must learn. It's an unambitious, often charming sampler, sure to make readers smile, think, and dream. (Fiction. 12-15) Read full book review >
DEAL WITH A GHOST by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 1997

Is it possible for a girl to make the same mistakes that her mother and grandmother made before her? Singer (The Maiden on the Moor, 1995, etc.) poses that somewhat serious question, and answers it with a fast-paced, superficial ghost story. Delia McCarthy (Deal) has just moved in with her grandmother, eager to make a fresh start in a new town and at a new high school. Still, something compels Deal to play the same ``Game'' she played at her last school; she is curiously amoral as she goes after a new friend's boyfriend and succeeds in winning him. With the help of the ghost of a girl that Deal's grandmother wronged years ago, Deal puts her own demons to rest, accepts her absent mother and chilly grandmother for who they are, and focuses her attention on faithful Laurie—a witty character who deserves a book of his own. It's a surprisingly earthbound ghost story; even more surprising is the benign manner in which Singer presents Deal's moral dilemma. The provocative premise gets only cursory treatment, and readers are bound to be disappointed. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
THE MAIDEN ON THE MOOR by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1995

Tangentially inspired by an old English ballad (LC's 398.2 designation is questionable), this tale of a maiden found unconscious on a snowy moor has grand atmosphere but some unresolved mysteries. The maiden, taken in and cared for by a shepherd, awakens and begs the shepherd's smallest dog to slay her; in death she becomes both a goose soaring into the sky and a new maiden. The shepherd, till this moment in despair over the disappearance of the original maiden (whom he has come to love), joyfully welcomes the new one as his life's companion, knowing nothing of the sorcery and shape-shifting. Readers never learn why the goose was imprisoned in human form, nor how she came to be on the moor, nor why she did not confide her plight to the shepherd. Bleak Scottish moors are the background for colored-pencil illustrations in chill tones of gray, buff, and midnight blue, with the maiden rendered in pre-Raphaelite, alabaster beauty. Howell (The Ugly Duckling, Putnam, 1990, etc.) makes fuller use of the original ballad than Singer (Sky Words, Macmillan, 1994, etc.), by working flowers named there into decorative panels and borders. An illuminated initial capital and Celtic interlaces on many pages help establish the mood of antiquity. An adapted version of the ballad appears as a preface. (Picture book. 8-12) Read full book review >
THE PAINTED FAN by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1994

Set in long-ago China, a tale of a greedy lord who hopes to evade his fate and the courageous girl who brings it to pass. After hearing that the Painted Fan will be his undoing, Lord Shang commands that all fans be destroyed; still, Bright Willow, a poor farmer's daughter, brings along an heirloom fan after Lord Shang selects her as his unwilling bride. When she's caught talking with a young groom, Shang agrees to waive her punishment if she can fetch a huge pearl that's guarded by a terrible demon. The fan's magic is instrumental in her success and the subsequent destruction of the wicked lord; the young people, revealed as heirs to the warring houses Lord Shang supplanted, are happily united. Singer knits together several folkloric motifs to create an original tale with satisfying strands of adventure and romance. The Chinese-born illustrator, now a professor at Duke University, makes a fine picture-book debut with dramatically posed scenes of realistically depicted figures in impressionistic settings that effectively enhance the mood. (Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >
SKY WORDS by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1994

Fifteen poems about the sky, its changing moods and weathers and the things to be seen in it—skywriting or fireworks, the moon and stars, ``Monarchs Migrating,'' birds. In irregular lines with rhymes sometimes cropping up in unexpected places, Singer (Turtle in July, 1989) puts a unique slant on familiar sights—''At the Fair'': ``...the scariest ride/at the fair/Red and gold in the air/...like a giant's hammer/covered with jewels''; ``Twilight'': ``In the hour of the bat/when the world fades like a photo/left lying in a drawer...''; or, ``Fog'': ``The fog is/a river with no direction/a dream with no doors...'' Ray's mixed-media illustrations range from jagged slashes that convey the fair's perpetual motion and garish lights to the subtlest of washes for ``Fog'' and myriad shades of gray for ``Twilight.'' A good collection for use in thematic teaching units as well as in the poetry section. (Poetry/Picture book. 6-9) Read full book review >
BIG WHEEL by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

Big Wheel Wiggins is the undisputed leader of his gang—an affable and diverse clutch of boys and a few girls who acquired local notoriety with high-jinks like conducting a bowling tournament with plastic flamingos, toadstools, and elves on a vacationing family's lawn. Then slick Topper Smith juggles his way into Marietta and challenges Wheel's position. One by one, members of Wheel's gang defect to explore Topper's old house, swim in his pool, and raid his well-stocked refrigerator. The erosion of Wheel's power base is giving him a massive case of executive stress. When he follows his know-it-all grandfather's crack-down advice, he alienates the last loyal holdout, life-long best friend Tag. After one act of sweet revenge, Wheel is forced to revise his Big Wheel code of ethics: he has to make room for two leaders of the gang, stroke his stray troops, and apologize to Tag. A smart, funny story, with a rollicking pace, smart- alecky dialogue, and snappy similes (when Wheel meets his radio deejay idol, Wild Willie, his heart is ``taking off like a pigeon at a cat show''). Wheel's meteorologist father's disastrous foray into TV weather-forecasting makes an interesting backdrop. A surefire story from a popular author. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
CHESTER THE OUT-OF-WORK DOG by Marilyn Singer
ANIMALS
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

Busy caring for the sheep, Chester is happy on the farm; but then his family moves to a city apartment. The frustrated Chester starts rounding up people: he forces four garbage collectors into a restaurant, five firemen into a fountain, and so on; herding a girls' softball team into the boys' bathroom is the last straw. Chester, predictably, redeems himself: dolefully setting out for his old home, he happens on a lost class of children (in sheep costumes, yet) and shepherds them back to school, winning himself a new job as crossing guard. Contrived but briskly told, and the human analog may provide some insights in these hard times. Smith's lively, comical illustrations effectively convey the characters' feelings, especially the appealing dog's. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
IN MY TENT by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 30, 1992

A cycle of poetic vignettes centering on the young narrator's tent (``what I like best is the color/suddenly orange/like an oriole landing/in the emerald woods/quietly saying, I'm here''), promised her during a snowfall ``On the day the twins were born.'' Most of the episodes occur during a summer camping trip: Dad's affectionately teasing wake-up call; getting a little lost in the woods; finding out that even baked beans are delicious here; regretfully taking down a spider's web with the tent. In the last scene, the narrator and her friend are building a tent-like igloo on the twins' first birthday. Subtly, in economical, gracefully phrased descriptions, Singer conveys a great deal about this unique, not-quite-perfect family. McCully's impressionistic watercolors nicely reflect the quiet mood and warm interaction. (Poetry/Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE GOLDEN HEART OF WINTER by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 14, 1991

A new story in a traditional mode: a blacksmith sends his three sons on an heir-deciding quest for ``something of value.'' En route, the first two scorn a trapped raven; the third, Half[wit], frees her and is rewarded with the story of a magical heart: Life has buried it, but Death would like to find it in order to create eternal winter. The raven gives Half a riddle that he shares with his brothers; finding the heart, the two quarrel, invoking Death and a cruel cold. Back at his father's forge, Half thaws the heart and even offers his own in exchange if only spring will come—thus defeating Death and winning his father's contest. The quickly moving story is different enough from its sources to hold attention, while the powerful images are well realized in Rayevsky's vigorous, finely detailed art. Death looks chillingly like one of the Apocalyptic horsemen; other figures are tellingly caricatured. Some of the symbolism seems a bit muddled (why would Spring's lifeblood be restored by fire?); still, an interesting venture from this versatile author. (Picture book. 5-10) Read full book review >
NINE O'CLOCK LULLABY by Marilyn Singer
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 29, 1991

Beginning in Brooklyn, N.Y. at nine p.m., Singer samples activities that might be taking place simultaneously around the world, moving west to east, including an anomalous Indian time- zone (half an hour different) and contrasting points in the same zones (Zaire and Switzerland). Lessac's cheerful, decorative paintings in a primitive style depict activities typical of both the hours and the locales. A useful, attractive concept book. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
CHARMED by Marilyn Singer
Released: Oct. 30, 1990

The evil Charmer threatens many worlds; only a small group of companions with the "Correct Combination" of traits can stand against him. Amanda, 12, has always been saddled with a vivid imagination, but that doesn't prepare her for being snatched through an ancient snake-charmer's basket into other worlds, or for being cast into a desperate struggle With an apparently invulnerable soul-stealer. Surviving several narrow squeaks, Amanda and five new friends confront the Charmer in near-future Los Angeles, where—after a rather ritualized battle—they send him packing. The evil here is a creature who can convince whole populations that drugs and mind-control gadgets create real peace and happiness; he is defeated by Amanda's ability to imagine a universe without him. The characters making up the Correct Combination of traits are particularly appealing, especially the nonhumans; an uneasy truce between Rattus, a rat with a wry sense of humor, and proud, catlike Bastable provides comic relief amid the grave goings-on. Winning, well-wrought fantasy. Read full book review >