Marilyn On Writing

A Blast of Poetry

Published in School Library Journal, September 2004

Some kids like to play baseball. Some prefer playing “house.” And more than a few enjoy both. I was a kid who liked to play with words. I was fascinated not only by their sounds and their definitions, but by their shades of meaning. I would take my paper dolls and concoct elaborate descriptions of their costumes: “This stunning magenta sheath is made of watered silk with a tulle peplum. The matching cloche hat has hand-sewn paillettes.” What a joy it was to be able to distinguish magenta from rose, paillettes from mere sequins.

I was enchanted by words then—and I still am. And what better to do with such enchantment than to bring the magic to others, children in particular, by becoming a writer—and, more specifically, a poet? For what genre is as much about gorgeous, glorious, perfect words than poetry?

(Click here for article.)

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Nurturing Wonder

Published in School Library Journal, January, 2003

I can’t think of a novel of mine that was inspired by sheer irritation. Nonfiction is another story. When I heard one too many folks call a wasp a “bee,” a gorilla a “monkey,” and even a heron a “duck,” I got bugged enough to write A WASP IS NOT A BEE (Holt, 1995). Then there was the time at the Prospect Park Zoo when a little boy asked his mom why baboons have such big red butts. Despite a series of placards explaining the reason for these simian endowments, the mother loudly replied, “Because they’re sick.” Instead of howling at her, I came up with BOTTOMS UP!: A Book About Rear Ends (Holt, 1997).

What’s so important about taxonomic distinctions or the reproductive habits of animals? For that matter, why bother to study other creatures at all? The answer lies in how we view the world, in our ability to see ourselves as a part of the universe or as the center of it.

(Click here for article.)

Read More »

A Blast of Poetry

Published in School Library Journal, September 2004

Some kids like to play baseball. Some prefer playing “house.” And more than a few enjoy both. I was a kid who liked to play with words. I was fascinated not only by their sounds and their definitions, but by their shades of meaning. I would take my paper dolls and concoct elaborate descriptions of their costumes: “This stunning magenta sheath is made of watered silk with a tulle peplum. The matching cloche hat has hand-sewn paillettes.” What a joy it was to be able to distinguish magenta from rose, paillettes from mere sequins.

I was enchanted by words then—and I still am. And what better to do with such enchantment than to bring the magic to others, children in particular, by becoming a writer—and, more specifically, a poet? For what genre is as much about gorgeous, glorious, perfect words than poetry?

(Click here for article.)

Read More »

Nurturing Wonder

Published in School Library Journal, January, 2003

I can’t think of a novel of mine that was inspired by sheer irritation. Nonfiction is another story. When I heard one too many folks call a wasp a “bee,” a gorilla a “monkey,” and even a heron a “duck,” I got bugged enough to write A WASP IS NOT A BEE (Holt, 1995). Then there was the time at the Prospect Park Zoo when a little boy asked his mom why baboons have such big red butts. Despite a series of placards explaining the reason for these simian endowments, the mother loudly replied, “Because they’re sick.” Instead of howling at her, I came up with BOTTOMS UP!: A Book About Rear Ends (Holt, 1997).

What’s so important about taxonomic distinctions or the reproductive habits of animals? For that matter, why bother to study other creatures at all? The answer lies in how we view the world, in our ability to see ourselves as a part of the universe or as the center of it.

(Click here for article.)

Read More »

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