Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Marilyn Singer

Singer, Marilyn. IT'S HARD TO READ A MAP WITH A BEAGLE ON YOUR LAP. Ill. by Clément Oubrerie. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1993. ISBN 0805022015.

Marilyn Singer has created a humorous collection of dog poems. Most of her poems go unnamed but can be identified by the breed of dog she’s writing about. There are also poems about mutts and mongrels, and the daily routines of dogs.

These poems all have a regular meter and rhyming scheme. There are couplets, quatrains, and limericks in this collection. Singer even includes four concrete poems. Some of her most amusing poems are the ones which describe specific parts of dogs, like Ears, Fur, and Tails, which are the only three poems in this collection which have titles.

Singer makes frequent use of alliteration (“have to hoot,” unnamed poem about a bulldog), consonance (“When a Rottweiler feels rotten,” unnamed poem about a rottweiler) and internal rhymes (“He stinks at rinks and also links,” unnamed poem about a dachshund). Oubrerie’s illustrations also add to the poetic imagery, as he extends the illustration for the dachshund poem over four pages, and alternates fence posts and dog in the Dalmatian poem. As a final touch, there’s a poem that has one line at the top of each page, sort of like a poetry version of a flip book, and is, ironically enough, about the many ways dogs wait.

My favorite poem from this book is Ears:

     Standing high
     Mr. Spock’s

Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June 1993 (Vol. 46, No. 10))
... a collection of twenty-six silly dog poems.... Oubrerie's scratchy lines and mixed-media art emphasizes the variety in both dogs and poetry by depicting the protagonists sometimes in cartoonish exaggeration and sometimes in highly detailed realism..... always energetic. Kids won't exactly take these up as chants, but the tilted investigation of the doggy world has a giggle-provoking appeal.

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, 1993)
Stalwart bulldogs, waltzing bloodhounds, plain old mongrels, and other varieties of man's best friend scratch, fetch, sleep, sniff, and romp through a volume of amusing canine doggerel. Mixed-media illustrations capture both the playfulness of the poems and the sometimes oh-so-human nature of the dogs.

My 13 year old daughter (July 7, 2009)
"Mom! Marilyn Singer's funny! Can we check out some more books by her?"

1. Have a 'Bring your pet to the library" day. Serve dog treats, cat treats, and cookies
    in the shape of dog biscuits.
2. Have each child in your class illustrate and write a poem about his or her pet. If a
    child doesn't have a pet, have them use the pet they would like to have.
3. Connect this book to math. Conduct a class-wide survey of favorite pets, then
    have the class work in groups to plot this information into bar graphs and interpret
    the bar graphs. Have each group present their findings to another group.

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