Singer, Marilyn. 2003. FIREFLIES AT MIDNIGHT. by Ken Robbins. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. ISBN 0689824920
2. PLOT SUMMARY
FIREFLIES AT MIDNIGHT by Marilyn Singer, is a poetry book that highlights 13 different animals throughout the day. You first read about the robin that is awake at Dawn and is wishing everyone a good morning. As we approach noon we read about the horse who loves to canter in the fields except in the summer months of June and July. Once the sun goes down the fireflies begin to flash their tails as they fly around searching for their summer romance. The words and phrases used by Singer makes readers want to go outside and find each animal throughout the day.
3. CRITICAL ANALYSIS
On each page Singer arranges the poems differently to reflect the animal characteristics she is describing. The Monarch Butterfly lines look as if they are flying off the page, and the Frog has lines that jump out from the rest. Although every poem doesn’t rhyme, they all seem to read very smoothly and eloquent. The otter poem does have rhyming lines that really let you imagine the otter eating lunch and playing in the pond. “Next the catch-a-quick munch/ or the leisure lunch.” The best part about this book is how each poem makes you feel so different and emotional involved in the character. While you are reading about the Red Elf you too seem frustrated that he can’t cross over the road to get to the pond. With the Ants you see the team work that all of them have to do to make objects move. My favorite line in the book really reflects that hard work attitude. “One and one and one and one/ is the best way/ to get things done.”
The layout of the book helps readers to understand the difference in poetry picture books verse a regular picture book. The left side of the page is white except for the black font of the words. Each animal name is larger, and in a different font from this rest of the poem, helping students to remember each animal. On the right sides of the pages are the amazing illustrations of the animals.
The illustrations by Ken Robbins are so real like that you think he took pictures of each animal in their natural habitat. He also uses colors that reflect the time of day each animal represents. The robin has a bright sky in its background, and the bats have a pitch dark sky only illuminated by houses in the background. The frog page is amazing with pink flowers in the pink and the moon reflecting in the water.
A 1st grade class that I read this book to had several comments about the poems and illustration. Listed below are their comments:
- “I really liked the poem about the Red Fox because I had never that animal before.”
-“The pictures were my favorite part. They looked like real pictures.”
-“I liked the poem about the Frog because it had rhyming words.”
- “My favorite part was the illustrations because there was a lot of details and pretty colors.”
4. REVIEW EXCERPTS
*School Library Journal- “The vividly realized photo treatments are at once hyperrealistic and dreamlike, reinforcing the feeling of moments frozen in time.”
*Kirkus Review- “Singer once again captures the intrinsic character of each animal's nature or movement through innovative poetic devices: swooping rhymes describing the playful otter, a rollicking rhythm for a poem about a horse, and a strong two-beat meter for a monarch butterfly that reflects the beating pattern of its wings. She divides the 14 poems evenly between rhyming and non-rhyming works, and all of them employ unusual rhyme schemes or structures.”
*Publisher’s Weekly- “Ken Robbins's photorealistic art brings each animal into an up-close, often soft focus.”
*As a science activity have students research one of the animals in the story and create a collage of pictures and facts to share with the class.
*Read PLEASE DON”T SQUEEZE YOUR BOA, NOAH! by Marilyn Singer. ISBN 0805032770
- Compare and Contrast the different animals Singer uses in each book.
- In FIREFLIES AT MIDNIGHT, frogs, ants, bats, horses
-PLEASE DON’T SQEEZE YOUR BOA, NOAH has snakes, cats, guppy, mouse
*Have students create their own poem about an animal answering the questions: who, what, where, when, why