Friday, June 08, 2007

Happy Birthday, Judy Sierra

Today is Judy Sierra’s birthday: librarian, puppeteer, author, poet, and speaker. In Sharron McElmeel’s profile of Sierra we learn that Judy took to poetry like a fish to water. Her mother reminisced about “two-year-old Judy going to her doctor and reciting a Robert Louis Stevenson poem for him. Sierra herself said, "As a child, I was a great fan of Dr. Seuss and Wanda Gag and shared my parents' enthusiasm for Ogden Nash, Cole Porter, and Gilbert and Sullivan." Her father paid her a dollar for every poem she learned by heart. She memorized poems by many poets, including Lewis Carroll and T.S. Eliot. Second-grade reports were written in rhyme.”

Many of her works for children are rhyming picture books that bridge the worlds of poetry and folklore, with a strong dash of humor. She enjoys parodying or spoofing classic children’s rhymes from Mother Goose to “The Night Before Christmas” to “The Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.” Sierra has a knack for creating rhymes and rhyming text that are musical and song-like, often injecting a bit of wordplay a well. Look for:

Schoolyard Rhymes: Kids' Own Rhymes for Rope Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun
Wild About Books

Counting Crocodiles

Antarctic Antics
(which was also animated by Weston Woods)
'Twas the Fright Before Christmas

There's a Zoo in Room 22

Thelonius Monster's Sky-High Fly-Pie

Good Night, Dinosaurs

Monster Goose

Sierra worked as a librarian, toured with her own puppet theater, and earned a Ph.D. in Folklore and Mythology Studies from UCLA. Besides her work for children, she has also authored professional books and storytelling and folklore collections for librarians and teachers, including:

The Flannel Board Storytelling Book
part of the Oryx Multicultural Folktale Series
Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children

Nursery Tales Around the World

Fantastic Theater: Puppets and Plays for Young Performers and Young Audiences

Children's Traditional Games

Can You Guess My Name?: Traditional Tales Around the World

Storytellers Research Guide

Mother Goose's Playhouse

Picture credit:

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