Winner of the 2015 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry, Marilyn Singer was born in the Bronx (New York City) on October 3, 1948 and lived most of her early life in N. Massapequa (Long Island), NY. She attended Queens College, City University of New York, from which she received a B.A. in English, and for her junior year, Reading University, England. She holds an M.A. in Communications from New York University.
In 1974, after teaching English in New York City high schools for several years, she began to write – initially film notes, catalogues, teacher’s guides, and film strips. Then, one day, when she was sitting in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, she penned a story featuring talking insect characters she’d made up when she was eight. Encouraged by the responses she got, she wrote more stories, and in 1976, her first book, The Dog Who Insisted He Wasn’t, was published by E.P. Dutton & Co.
Since then, Marilyn has published more than one hundred books for children and young adults. Her genres are many and varied, including realistic novels, fantasies, mysteries, short stories, non-fiction, fairy tales, picture books, and poetry. She likes writing many different kinds of books because it’s challenging and it keeps her from getting bored.
Her book, Mirror Mirror has garnered many awards, including: the Cybil Award for Poetry, 2011, an ALA Notable 2011; an CLA/NCTE Notable, 2011 and six starred reviews. In addition, it was a nominee for the Texas Bluebonnet Award and has been listed as a Capitol Choice Book, one of the year’s best books by the Washington Post, Horn Book, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, Scripps News Service, and blogger Betsy Bird’s list.
She has won several Children’s Choice and Parents’ Choice Awards, as well as the following: Echo Echo, NCTE Notable, 2017 and SLJ Best Books of the Year and NYPL Best Books of the Year, 2016; Rutherford B., Who Was He?, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book and NCTE Notable, 2013; Follow Follow, NCTE Notable, Columbus Dispatch’s 20 Best Books of the Year, and Bank Street College’s Best Books of the Year, 2013; A Strange Place to Call Home, IRA Teachers Choice and NCTE Notable, 2012; A Full Moon Is Rising, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best, 2012; Twosomes; Beehive Award, 2011; Eggs and First Food Fight This Fall, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best, 2009; Venom, Orbis Pictus Honor Book, 2008; New York Public Library’s One Hundred Best Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2007; City Lullaby, Time Magazine’s Top Ten Children’s Books, 2007; What Stinks?, NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book, 2007; Science Books & Film Best Trade Books, 2006; Central Heating, ALSC Notable Book, 2005; Creature Carnival, Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book, 2005; Tough Beginnings: How Baby Animals Survive, NSTA-CBA Outstanding Science Trade Book, 2002 and Society of School Librarians International Best Book for Science, 2001; A Pair of Wings, Animal Behavior Society Children’s Book Award, 2001; I Believe in Water: Twelve Brushes with Religion, New York Public Library’s “Best Books for the Teen Age,” 2001; Stay True: Short Stories for Strong Girls, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2000 (YALSA); On the Same Day in March, Booklist’s Top Ten Science Books of 2000 and NCSS-CBC Notable Book, 2000; Deal with a Ghost, finalist, YA category, Edgar Award, 1998; It Can’t Hurt Forever, Maud Hart Lovelace Award, 1983; The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, 1983; Turtle in July, NCTE Notable, N.Y.Times Best Illustrated and Time Magazine Best Children’s Books of 1989; Turtle in July was also a Reading Rainbow review book.
Marilyn currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband Steve; their standard poodle, Bizzy, their cat, Benito, and two collared doves named Jubilee and Holiday. Her interests include ballroom/Latin dancing, dog training, reading, hiking, bird-watching, gardening, and going to the theatre. She’s also a major Star Trek fan.
To find out more about Marilyn’s writing and her life, see her interview in Poetry People: A Practical Guide to Children’s Poets by Sylvia Vardell (Libraries Unlimited, 2007); Speaking of Poets 2 by Jeffrey S. Copeland and Vicky C. Copeland (NCTE, 1992); and her autobiography in Something About the Author, Autobiographical Series, Volume 13 (Gale Research, Inc., 1992).
Marilyn was the host of the former AOL Children’s Writers Chat and currently co-hosts the Poetry Blast at various conferences.