[review, recipe, giveaway!] Miss Muffet, or What Came After by Marilyn Singer and David Litchfield

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.


Well, no. Not exactly.

There’s more to this story than meets the eye.

Curtain Up!


🎻ACT ONE, or The Real Story 🎻

It seems nursery rhymers of yore mistook our dear Miss Muffet for a dainty scaredy-cat milquetoast without really considering:

  1. her true potential
  2. some spiders are undeniably cool
  3. the inherent power of cottage cheese.

Now, thanks to Marilyn Singer and David Litchfield, Miss Patience Muffet finally gets her props in a hilarious new picture book, Miss Muffet, or What Came After (Clarion, 2016), proving, once and for all, that where there’s a will there’s a whey. 🙂

Told in sprightly verse as a rousing musical theatre production, the book features a fetching cast that includes an off-stage narrator, a chorus of three (gardener + 2 maids), Webster the spider, and nursery characters Little Bo-Peep and Old King Cole, among others. These clever players had me from their opening lines.


Her given name was Patience.
Her schoolmates called her Pat.
In the garden on a stool
is where one day she sat.
What do we know about her?
Just this much, if you please:
She didn’t care for spiders,
but she did love cottage cheese.


Cottage cheese, cottage cheese,
she eats it every day.
Cottage, cottage, cottage cheese,
she calls it curds and whey.

In December or in June,
in a bowl, with a spoon.
Cottage cheese, cottage cheese.
Very tasty (slightly pasty),
or so we’ve heard her say!

We soon learn that much to her parents’ dismay (her mother yearns for a perfect little miss and her father wishes she’d share his passion for bugs), Pat has a mind of her own.

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friday feast: keeping cool with calvin coolidge and his wife’s crunchy cookies

Since moving to Virginia, I’ve become quite the Presidential buff. It’s easy to do since eight Presidents were born here, and I bump into fascinating history wherever I turn.

That’s why I get excited whenever a new children’s book comes out profiling a single President, or, as in the case of Marilyn Singer’s fabulous new poetry collection, all 43 of them.

In Rutherford B., Who Was He?, Marilyn introduces our fearless leaders in chronological order via succinct, thought-provoking poems, blending critical facts, historical references and fascinating human interest tidbits.

All but eight (grouped together for spirited discourse) are featured in single poems. With just a few masterful strokes, she highlights the subject’s claim to fame and illuminates character and personality, so we can better understand the why’s and wherefore’s. She does not shy away from foibles, failings, controversy or scandal, and I love the sense of continuity from one administration to the next, giving us a broad sweep of Presidential history from Washington to Obama.

Paired with John Hendrix’s witty, exuberant caricatures and crackerjack hand-drawn typography, these verses pulse with verve and vigor — a showcase of poetic forms (a Nixon reverso!) with clever, innovative rhymes that truly bring our Presidents to life.

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friday feast: two smooth talkers, a chunky hunk, and a hot salsa mama

Welcome to our Peanut Butter Poets Party!

Every Poetry Friday in November, we’re serving up creamy crunchy chewy peanut butter poems written by some of our favorite nut cases children’s poets and friends.

Today’s menu features four good-looking but sticky poets: Charles Ghigna, Matt Forrest Esenwine, David L. Harrison and Marilyn Singer.

The guys all love peanut butter but Marilyn doesn’t (gasp!). Don’t worry — what she doesn’t eat, she makes up for with fancy footwork and sassy swaying to that crazy Latin beat.

I call Charles and Matt the Peter Pan twins; they’re both into creamy and are oh-so-smooth with their rhythm and rhyme (get a grip; they may slide off your screen). David calls himself a “Jiffy chunky man.” See what happens when you have a choosy mom? You grow up to be a chunky hunk who knows how to cowboy up. I wonder if he’s found his elusive jelly yet?

Enjoy Our Daily Spread. Okay to read aloud with your mouth full.

* * * * *

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friday feast: a strange place to call home by marilyn singer and ed young

Happy Poetry Friday!

It’s always a treat to see a new poetry collection by the one and only Marilyn Singer, who, if I’m not mistaken, has published six books this year (what a slacker :))!

Today, I’m happy to feature two poems from her latest picture book, A Strange Place to Call Home: The World’s Most Dangerous Habitats & The Animals That Call Them Home (Chronicle, 2012), which is officially out this week.

In A Strange Place, we meet 14 wondrous creatures who’ve somehow managed to survive and adapt despite harsh, extreme, unusual and/or dangerous conditions. Who would expect to find billions of ice worms flourishing in glaciers and ice fields, flies who hatch in petroleum pools, or blind freshwater fish living in deep underground caves?

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friday feast: a full moon is rising by marilyn singer and julia cairns

Happy first Poetry Friday of September!

Today,  I’m excited to share several poems and spreads from Marilyn Singer’s new poetry collection, A Full Moon is Rising (Lee & Low, 2011). Have you seen it yet?

Marilyn invites young readers to come along on a whirlwind tour of the world, providing the perfect opportunity to discover some interesting full moon celebrations, customs, beliefs, facts and natural phenomena. The 17 poems, written in a variety of poetic forms, takes us to places like Turkey, China, India, Colombia, Mexico, the U.S., Canada, and  Morocco. Did you know the world’s highest tides are in the Bay of Fundy, Canada? Have you ever heard of the Pushkar Camel Fair? You must read about the mudflats in Broome, Australia — when a full moon shines on them, it creates an image of a staircase leading to the moon through the sky!

Julia Cairns’s beautiful, evocative watercolor spreads capture the emotional heartbeat of  each poem, feelings ranging from wonder and fascination, to joyous celebration, to lighthearted fun and dreaminess. I love the blend of poetry and science, the nod to diversity, the reverence for the moon as the ultimate unifier. Singer’s poems remind you to look up: your gift, a chance to marvel at full moon magic like never before.

Three of my absolute favorite poems center around food (surprise!). Put on your moon-gazing face and make sure your bib is fastened tight as we travel to Israel, China, and Iowa!

Haifa, Israel

Come in, come in,
     daughter, son, neighbor.
Come into this sukkah,
with its canvas walls,
its leafy ceiling of palm and pine.
Come rejoice in this fair harvest,
     in the harvests long past,
     and the ones yet to come.
Here, the pomegranates are sweet,
     the grapes are sweeter,
and the vanilla white moonlight frosting us
through the fragrant roof
     is sweetest of all!

Hong Kong, China

Look up!
Rabbit, dragon, butterfly, carp:
lanterns parading by.
Look around!
All of us together,
sampling these sweet cakes —
red bean and lotus paste —
each with a surprise inside:
a salty egg, round and golden
as the glorious eighth moon.

A Farm in Iowa, USA

Every September Grandpa tells the tale
his grandfather told him,
     of reaping all this wheat
     by moonlight brighter than the headlights
     on all our combines combined.
And every year the hard-work story changes
     from old-time binders to older scythes,
     from three long nights to a longer six,
     from six strong workers to maybe ten.
But the bread, oh that bread, his grandma made?
That always stays the same!

* * *

Oh my word, I need some homemade bread and a couple of mooncakes now. And that “vanilla white moonlight frosting us” — *swoon*.

Yes, you need to click through to your favorite online bookseller and order A Full Moon is Rising right this second. Heads up: the next full moon is September 12th.  You’ll definitely want your copy in hand by then for a proper celebration!

The luminous Tricia Stohr-Hunt has this week’s Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Check out the full menu of poetry being served up around the blogosophere.

poems by Marilyn Singer
illustrated by Julia Cairns
published by Lee & Low Books, May 2011
Full Color Picture Book for ages 6+, 48 pp.
Includes an introduction explaining lunar phases and fascinating endnotes for each poem that will no doubt inspire further study.

Cool themes: Moon lore, diversity, poetry, science, celebrations, foreign cultures, myths and legends.

♥ For an interview with Marilyn and Julia, links to some of the glowing reviews this title has earned so far, more gorgeous spreads, and to listen to Marilyn read three poems, visit Lee & Low’s website. I love Marilyn’s reading voice ☺!


**If you promise to keep your moon face on all day, you may have some mooncake. Have a great holiday weekend!


***Spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2011 Marilyn Singer, illustrations © Julia Cairns, published by Lee & Low Books, 2011. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.