This is a 2005 honor book for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:
Singer, Marilyn. 2004. Creature Carnival. New York: Hyperion.
Here is a Digital Trailer for CREATURE CARNIVAL created by graduate student Blaire Beathard available on YouTube and here.
Here is a Readers' Guide for CREATURE CARNIVAL created by graduate student Amber Ramsey.
Recommended age levels 4-8
1. Summary of book
This collection of 26 poems presents characters from myth, legend, and popular culture in a twisted and eerie manner. The creatures are on display at a run-down carnival. As the shady ringmaster leads the disheveled visitors through the carnival, they encounter creatures such as Godzilla (“Fateful day, / Atomic ray. / Dino mutation, / Terrified nation”) and Pegasus (“Not a horse, not a bird, / Wouldn’t drop an egg on us. / Very sleek, very Greek, / In a word: / It’s Pegasus”). Singer’s witty and clever word play grabs the reader’s attention and keeps them interested. There is a glossary at the end of the book that explains the characters in more detail. This could also be strategically placed in order to encourage further reading on specific creatures. Gris Grimly’s ghastly illustrations represent the text very well.
2. Review excerpts/awards
*Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award honor book
*Publishers Weekly; “A devilish collection of rhymes, Creature Carnival leads readers through a festival of mythological proportions.”
*Children’s Literature; “The zany, detailed illustrations are a feast for the eyes and will appeal to the quirky taste of many an elementary-aged student schooled in video games and horror flicks.”
*School Library Journal; “The poems will bring appreciative smiles from readers who know the stories-and for those who don’t, the book concludes with a glossary. Not since Jack Prelutsky and Arnold Lobel teamed up in Nightmares (1976) and The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight (1980, both Greenwillow) has there been a better collection of poems celebrating the weird.”
*Kirkus; “The attention-getting menagerie will have readers and listeners sitting on the edges-and probably falling right out-of their seats: as the mustachioed barker declaims, “Listen-that’s the werewolf’s band/ over by the I Scream stand. / Ticket, please. I’ll stamp your hand.”
3. Questions to ask before reading
Invite the children to discuss the following:
*What is a creature carnival? Look at the book’s cover and speculate about the book’s content.
*Imagine that you are at a carnival. What do you see? A ringmaster? Animals? Is the setting warm and inviting with happy animals and performers?
*Based on the book’s cover, is this a carnival you would like to attend? Why or why not?
*Do you think characters can be easily described through the use of poetry? Why or why not?
4. Suggestions for reading poems aloud
*”Creature Carnival”—invite the whole class to read each stanza’s end line (“It’s Creature Carnival time”) as a repeated refrain.
*Divide the class into four groups of four. Allow each group to choose a poem that they would like to act out. Once the groups have had ample time to practice their play, have them put on a show for the class.
*Prepare puppets and props for a specific poem. As you recite the poem to the class, use the puppets and props to provide a visual aid for the students.
*Allow each student the opportunity to choose a poem from the book to read and practice. Encourage students to write the poem down and draw a scene from the poem. Have the students read or recite their chosen poem to the class and display their drawings.
5. Follow up activities
*Have students write a poem about what they would expect to see at a carnival.
*Have students create a creature to put on display at a carnival. In addition to writing a paragraph explaining the creature and its abilities have them draw a picture of it.
*Using various art supplies, have students create their own creature to display in the classroom.
6. Related web sites/blogs
*Marilyn Singer’s web site
[Look here for information about the author and her books.]
*Marilyn Singer’s acceptance speech
[Look here for Marilyn Singer’s acceptance speech.]
*The Miss Rumphius Effect
[Look here for ideas for teaching poetry.]
[Look here for a blog that reviews and discusses books by Marilyn Singer.]
[Look here for a parent and child reading a poem from Creature Carnival.]
7. Related books
The companion book to Creature Carnival:
Singer, Marilyn. 2009. Monster Museum. Ill. by Gris Grimly. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 1423121007
Other macabre poetry books:
Crimi, Carolyn. 2006. Boris and Bella. Ill. by Gris Grimly. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0152059008
Grimly, Gris. 2003. Gris Grimly’s Wicked Nursery Rhymes. California: Baby Tattoo Books. ISBN 0972938877
Grimly, Gris. 2006. Gris Grimly’s Wicked Nursery Rhymes II. California: Baby Tattoo Books. ISBN 0972938834
Grimly, Gris. 2005. Little Jordan Ray’s Muddy Spud. California: Baby Tattoo Books. ISBN 0972938869
Leuk, Laura. 2006. Santa Claws. Ill. by Gris Grimly. California: Chronical Books LLC. ISBN 0811849929
Pearson, Susan. 2008. Grimericks. Ill. by Gris Grimly. New York: Cavendish, Marshall Corporation. ISBN 0761454446
Related fiction books:
Evans, Lady Hestia. 2007. Mythologies (Ologies). MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763634032
De Lesseps, Zoticus. 2009. Oceanology: The True Account of the Voyage of the Nautilus (Ologies). MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763642908
Drake, Ernest. 2008. Monsterology: The Complete Book of Monstrous Beasts. MA: Candlewick. ISBN 9780763639402
Sands, Emily. 2005. The Egyptology Handbook: A Course in the Wonders of Egypt (Ologies). MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763629324