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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fireflies at Midnight, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Ken Robbins. Simon & Schuster, 2003. $21.00 ages 5 and up


Web is the work
is the home
is the trap
is the hub
is the map
is the night
is the day
is the hour
is the power
is the pattern
is the way"

It's warm summer, and creatures of both day and night are up and about, doing what they do best. The robin awakens our poetic souls with a cheery song while protecting and boasting about her eggs, just waiting to hatch and be the beneficiaries of the many worms found below. The facing photograph feels like a painting and shows her pride of place alongside her nestled eggs.

The otter's playfulness is captured in quick time, and clear, crisp language:

"It's the tussle with the mussel
or the clever crayfish crunch"

Can't you just hear your students tripping over those delightful words?

On we go through the day with a varied lot of summer creatures. Marilyn Singer is adept at creating their 'voices' in rhythmic lines and phrasing, helping us to delight in the cool freedom of the morning and the lethargic heat of the afternoon for the horse, the drudgery of needing everyone's help to move their picnic place to place for hundreds of ants, the patience of the eft waiting to find its way across a minefield of danger to the cooling magic of the pond and the furtive anxiety of a rabbit wanting to remain invisible.

Moving toward darkness, she introduces the bat with its quick movements and ability to 'see' in the dark, the frog as it croaks its regal song, the fireflies as they flit and dive looking for romance, the red fox as she teaches her kits to forage, the spider whose work is never done and the always weary mole dreaming of its next meal.

In this companion to Turtle in July, Marilyn Singer shows readers the power of poetry for storytelling. Ken Robbins uses digitally enhanced photographs to create the perfect setting for each of the featured creatures. We are the lucky ones who get to share this wonderful collection!

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